Just two weeks ago, the TLC Television Channel raked in the ratings with one of the most-watched episodes they've ever had. Coincidentally, TLC's "What Not to Wear" featured Andover resident Anne Concemi, a wife, mother, and owner of First Integrity Mortgage in Lawrence.
Friends and family secretly nominate people to appear on "What Not to Wear" who they believe desperately need to update their look. Those who agree are given a shopping spree, but must agree to toss all the clothes frowned on by the hosts, and they receive a new hairstyle and makeup.
Although Concemi was in absolute shock at the arrival of show co-hosts Clinton Kelly and Stacy London, who appeared while she was out looking at a motorcycle, she admits she was entirely up for the adventure.
"I always tried to kind of go with the styles but my clothes didn't fit properly. It wasn't all pulled together," she said.
And as a professional company owner, oversized clothes just did not do the trick. But then again, business suits weren't exactly the desirable look for a part-time Harley gal. Kelly and London got to work on Concemi immediately, discarding most of the clothes in her closet as well as what they called her mullet hairstyle. She was awarded the standard $5,000 shopping spree in New York City with the hosts.
The most important concept of the trip, Concemi explained, was that the Kelly and London did their best to locate places where their client will continue to shop in the future, since every individual's style and regular budget will vary.
"I shopped a lot near Taylor Loft. Banana Republic, Filene's Basement, Lord & Taylor, and GAP were also big for me," said Concemi, almost proudly. The most challenging aspect of the journey, in Concemi's opinion, was trying to find a nice balance in her wardrobe. "I don't fit into the [lesbian] stereotype at all, but I'd never dress like a housewife of the Orange County either," she said.
Anne Concemi resides in town with her wife, Whitney, and her two sons, Sam and Gus.
For some, "What Not to Wear" can become a highly emotional experience.
"I just didn't take it personally. Their job was to tell you what they thought, and if you were wearing something they think is ugly, they are going to tell you," said Concemi.
Although the hosts can be tough, she argues that they truly care.
"If everybody walks away from the show just not feeling 'good' then the show wouldn't be so successful," she said. "It's one thing to make someone look different, it's another thing to make someone feel different."
Concemi detailed how horrifying shopping had been for her in past years. "I just never felt good in anything," she admitted. But now, Concemi's confidence level has shot up. "I know exactly what to look for, I know the sizes, I know the fit, and I know what just does not look good," she said.
Plus, for Concemi, the experience wasn't just about fame and fashion. She was able to use the appearance to help a good cause.
On Friday, March 5 - the date the episode aired on national television - Concemi hosted a fundraiser at the Kowloon Restaurant in Saugus in support of a client's daughter, Hannah Lowe of Londonderry. Hannah was diagnosed with stage three embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma and is now in the recovery process from her most recent tumor removal. On the night of the premiere, Concemi and others set up huge-screen televisions throughout the restaurant and raised over $19,000 in honor of Hannah. Checks continue to come in through the mail.
"I think there's a much greater message to be spread here," said Concemi. "This family has been through such a huge ordeal and are in need of our assistance."
Send a donation
To send support in the name of young Hannah Lowe, address mail to:
The Hannah Lowe Donation Fund
Heir of First Integrity Mortgage
354 Merrimack Street
Lawrence, MA 01843