Since it premiered last summer, Bravo’s hit makeover series, “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” has gotten a lot of people thinking. For starters, it’s got some guys thinking it’s OK to dress to impress, while women everywhere are wondering why the men in their lives don’t put more effort into their appearances. But with the bar raised on what it means to be well dressed, some guys have been left high and dry. Developing fashion sense doesn’t happen overnight; it takes time and a little guidance, and not everyone gets the benefit of a personal visit from “Queer Eye’s” Fab Five. To help bridge the style gap between Dupont’s fashion elite and your average J Street slob, The Hatchet and GWTV teamed up with Alex’s Designer Consigner, Pro Euro Salon and The Darkhorse to give one lucky GW guy a dream makeover from five of the university’s own fashionistas. Read on to find out how our crack team of makeover artists transformed one typical GW guy from everyday to extraordinary in just a few hours, then tune in to GWTV to watch the fun for yourself.
You couldn’t ask for a better “Queer Eye” makeover candidate than junior Justin Bevers. A “Queer Eye” devotee since the first episode. This criminal justice major is preparing for the NY Police Department exam he will be taking in February and thinks a new image might help motivate him – and he’ll try anything.
“I’ve been working out for a while now, and I wanted a new look,” Justin said. “Jeans and T-shirts are OK, but they’re starting to get old and I just wanted something totally different.”
But as he got closer to Alex’s Designer Consigner, where the GW Five were waiting to revive his look, Justin confessed that he had a few misgivings about what he was about to subject himself to.
“I just don’t know what’ll happen when we get in there,” he said. “I don’t mind telling you that I’m a little scared.”
Figuring Out How to “Work It”
But Justin doesn’t have much time to feel frightened. As soon as he enters Alex’s the camera crews descend on him for “before” shots while the GW Five escorts him upstairs to the clothing racks. Ryan Smith is the clothing specialist for the afternoon, with Dylan Peckenpaugh handling accessories, but that doesn’t mean the other members of the team, Joel Rice (grooming and hair) and Stephen Markos (personality and charm) are willing to stand by the wayside. Expert No. 5, Robert Goldberg, might be, though, because he is running late. Meanwhile, the first four stare at Justin for a moment and then begin raiding the racks in search of something that will complement Justin’s style. They also manage to set aside every other article of clothing for their own personal consideration.
“We’re trying to find a middle ground between what he normally wears and what we’d do,” Ryan explains. “Really, anything can look good, as long as you know how to work it.”
When asked what “working it” meant, Ryan shrugged and smiled. “Working it” would come with due time. First, the GW Five needed to choose an outfit.
Alex’s is a consignment shop, meaning it carries primarily vintage clothing that clients sell to the store in return for a percentage of the item’s eventual sale price. That means no two pieces at Alex’s look the same, which is both an asset and a pitfall for our makeover team. Much of the distinctive clothing perfectly straddles the line between formal and casual, lending itself to the team’s fondness for eclectic, unbalanced, almost chaotic ensembles that somehow retain a sense of elegance. On the other hand, many of the one-of-a-kind items ends up being ruled out because they aren’t Justin’s size.
The GW Five gradually weigh down Justin with an armload of jeans, slacks and collared shirts and send him into the dressing room. The idea is to get him ready for a night on the town – Justin will be going out to dinner with the GW Five after the makeover is complete, and if he’s going to be dining with them, Justin might as well look the part.
When Justin emerges in the outfit in which he’s most comfortable, Ryan and Joel grab him and begin tugging at his sleeves, turning up his collar and folding back one of his cuffs.
“Pose like you like these!” Joel instructs.
Maybe this is what Ryan meant by “working it”?
“Sorta,” Joel says, and then turns his attention back to Justin. “Unbutton! Untuck! Have fun with it!”
Later, Dylan elaborates on the need to rough up an outfit a bit.
“The idea is to unbalance things. When you turn up the collar you make a formal shirt casual and fun. When you pull up a collar you throw everything off a bit,” he says.
The collared shirts and different slacks are nice but lack pizzazz, and everyone seems ambivalent as to how the hunt is going. Meanwhile, Stephen has fallen deeply in love with a black velvet suit. He presents it to the group several times to mixed reactions but then disregards his peers and tosses the jacket into the fitting room.
“Have him try it on,” Stephen says.
“He said no,” Dylan replies.
“He can’t say no!” Dylan retorts.
Justin finally relents and tries on the jacket and, lo and behold, the GW Five unanimously agree: it works. Perhaps it’s because Justin “worked it,” perhaps he just got lucky, but the jacket really brings it all together. Good thing, too, because the gang is due at ProEuro Salon for Phase 2 of Justin’s beautification. The clothes are left behind, with the promise that they will return in a few hours to complete Justin’s transformation.
“It’s Totally Addictive”
At ProEuro Salon the group is met by owner Apo Vural, who reviews the services Justin will be receiving: haircut, highlights, shave, eyebrow waxing, manicure and an express facial.
Justin nods his head as he listens to the list, but his eyes light up when the facial is mentioned. He turns to Joel, our grooming expert, and confesses that he’s never had a facial but has always wanted to try it.
“Oh my God,” Joel says. “It’s totally addictive. You won’t be able to move for hours afterward.” Joel, who goes home to Minneapolis for haircuts and the like because he feels D.C. is “too conservative,” admits to indulging in a facial whenever he gets the chance, even here in the District.
Justin shaved his head earlier this year for the Buzzing for Change fundraiser, so he doesn’t have a lot of hair to cut, but Vural trims it anyway, shaping his hair to accentuate the highlights he then puts in. The highlights are mild; because Justin has thin, dark hair, more radical ones wouldn’t show up well. But the light accents definitely add spunk to a previously lackluster hairstyle.
On the Bravo show, the straight guys being made over are frequently chastised for unsightly nose, facial or body hair, but Justin thankfully doesn’t have those problems. His eyebrows do tend toward the bushy side, though, so the GW Five has decided these features would benefit from some trimming and waxing.
“Shave his eyebrows just a little. We don’t want to make him look gay,” Joel says, and Justin and the rest of the GW Five all laugh. Whatever nervousness our straight guy had going into this ordeal seems long gone.
After a quick shave, our stray makeover guru, Robert, finally joins the ensemble, and the party is complete. But unfortunately, the dye job took longer than anticipated and the group must travel back to Alex’s for photos and Justin’s reintroduction to his best friend, Samantha McGowen, who will accompany him to tonight’s dinner. Justin looks a little disappointed when he’s told there won’t be time for a facial, but he vows to return and experience it for himself someday.
Before the guys head out, Vural inspects the work that’s been done on Justin and nods with approval.
“He’ll get a date today,” he says. “I guarantee it.”
The Great Unveiling
Back at Alex’s, the GW Five have a few more surprises in store for Justin. After he changes into his selected attire, Dylan whisks off Justin’s glasses and outfits him with trendy sunglasses instead. According to Joel, the specs make all the difference.
“You have really nice eyes. They sparkle,” he tells Justin, and everyone else agrees.
The GW Five then asks Justin if he’d consider wearing a little makeup.
“I’ll try anything once,” he says as the guys take turns admiring and critiquing his final look.
Justin walks dramatically down the stairs and is greeted by an astonished Samantha.
“You look cute!” she declares before bursting into laughter. “He looks good, it’s just funny. But in a good way.”
“I really like the way this turned out,” Justin says as the group heads out of Alex’s to make its way to the Darkhorse for dinner. “I’m definitely going to try layering more, more different colors. Definitely going to start primping.”
After dinner, everyone goes back to Justin’s place so that Robert can work his interior design magic, while the rest of the guys critique his closet. Robert, a confessed stickler for cleanliness and order, tears through Justin’s living room, cleaning and moving furniture furiously before the cameras, while Joel and Dylan lecture Justin on the importance of layering clothes and inform him that he needed to mix up his wardrobe.
For a guy who wasn’t sure what to expect going into this, Justin looks both relieved and stylish when all is said and done. But more importantly, next time he sits down to watch “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” he won’t have to feel the least bit jealous of the guys being reborn before the camera. For one brief day, Justin got to live out that dream and do his little turn on the catwalk.