Acting as a temporary host while Wheel of Fortune’s Pat Sajak recovers from medical hiatus, Vanna White can fill the host’s penny loafers, but not just anyone can pull off Vanna’s ball gowns. The almost 37-year-old gameshow has aired over 7,000 episodes—but that doesn’t mean all 7,000 dresses are at home, jamming the door of an overstuffed, mothball-filled closet. In fact, Vanna doesn’t even get to keep her show dresses—once she films a 30-minute episode, she probably won’t ever see it again, no matter how stunning or remarkable. Vanna White’s dresses are a fashion flame that burns wild but quick.
Operation Accoutre Vanna White commences with dress designers sending Wheel of Fortune Costumer Kathi Nishimoto look-books full of gowns fit for the gameshow hostess with the mostest, of which Nishimoto requests certain styles and colors. The dresses arrive in dozens, where they then go to Vanna for fitting, during which she and Nishimoto confer and eliminate until they arrive at a smaller number, usually about 12 for two weeks of shooting. “The biggest challenge was to just get her to [be vocal about dresses she doesn’t like] because she is so nice, she doesn’t want to say no to anybody,” Nishimoto told People. The selected dresses are altered prior to filming, and after the episode, those Vanna-shaped garments are sent directly to Vanna’s personal closet, right? WRONG! (It’s ok, here are 14 final Jeopardy! questions everybody gets wrong, too.)
The Wheel of Fortune crew typically films six episodes per production day, between which Vanna has her outfit changes down to three minutes—and reportedly gets in a few reps with 10-pound weights, too. (Those letters are not going to turn themselves!) After the dresses are whisked off Vanna between takes, they’re promptly documented and sent right back to the designers, who receive on-air credit.
The heels, however, are all Vanna-owned, and she cites their familiarity as a major help when prancing across the board. “Off-camera, I’m a blue jeans, tennis shoes kind of girl,” says White. “My favorite gowns are the comfortable ones.” According to Nishimoto, Vanna’s style has currently pivoted to shorter dresses while she’s temporarily hosting so she can more easily navigate the Wheel. See them live—here’s how you can get on Wheel of Fortune, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, and other popular game shows.