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Fashion forward

December 10, 2011
By Cindy Votruba ( , Marshall Independent

When Ghent native Tenessa Gemelke would choose clothes for the day, she would wear things that would make her laugh, which included funky earrings and cartoon T-shirts.

And those fashion choices are the reason she's going to be featured on TLC's "What Not To Wear" at 8 p.m. Tuesday.

On the show, hosts and fashion experts Stacy London and Clinton Kelly help participants go from "dowdy to dashing," according to the program's website.

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Tenessa Gemelke said she likes wearing clothes that “made her laugh,” which includes tie-dyed pants paired up with a Bell Biv Devoe T-shirt.

Gemelke, who graduated from Marshall High School in 1994, now lives in Columbia Heights. She said her sense of style can be a little different, and she rarely bought new clothes, with the exception of a Simpsons T-shirt.

"I always have been wearing wacky clothes, even back in high school," Gemelke said. "I was still wearing stuff I was wearing from high school."

Gemelke said she also used to raid the MHS theater basement for clothing items. The director had told her to take some things home because no one would ever wear them.

She would also wear kids' clothes as well if they were big enough to fit her, Gemelke said.

"I just basically liked clothes that made me laugh," Gemelke said.

In January of this year, Gemelke was starting a new job at Brain Traffic, which does content strategy for websites.

"I was trying to dress nicer for work," Gemelke said.

Gemelke's friend, Alison Dotson, nominated Gemelke to be on the show. She had to write a letter in the spring and then there was a "What Not To Wear" casting call earlier this summer.

"They had to get me to audition at the Mall of America," Gemelke said. "My husband knew I would not leave work to go to the mall on a Tuesday."

A few people conspired to get Gemelke to the mall, and once she was there, she had her audition. Gemelke said she was asked several questions about her clothing.

Gemelke was then selected to be on the show.

"They decided I was a likely candidate," Gemelke said.

Gemelke was flown to New York for the week in September and given $5,000 to spend on a new wardrobe.

"They ask you if you're willing to part with your clothes," Gemelke said.

Several people have asked Gemelke if she was offended about the experience.

"I just thought it was a fun adventure," Gemelke said. "I was in on the joke with my clothes."

When she was shopping in New York, Gemelke, who is used to finding her clothes at thrift stores and garage sales, was taken aback.

"I had complete sticker shock," Gemelke said. "I was out of my element."

But it was "really fun," Gemelke said.

"The people who make the show are really great, they want to pick a style that matches you," Gemelke said.

Gemelke's reveal was filmed in September at the Loring Pasta Bar in Minneapolis.

"It was fun to come back for the reveal," Gemelke said.



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