Typically, the participant is nominated by their friends and relatives, although some episodes ask for self-nominations, such as the class reunion specials or mall-nominations. If the subject is nominated by others, the show then secretly follows and videotapes the participant for two weeks. At the end of the two weeks, Stacy and Clinton review the secret footage and prepare to surprise the participant. During the surprise visit, the participant is offered a Bank of America or Visa card in the amount of US $5,000 to buy a whole new wardrobe, but there is a catch: They must turn over their existing wardrobe to Stacy and Clinton and be prepared for honest criticism. If the participant accepts, they are brought to New York City for a week of evaluation, shopping, and hair and makeup styling.

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