The Washington Post’s Katherine Boyle pens a lengthy article on female anchor fashion that covers quite a wide area…
For decades, the suit jacket transformed women into workers. With jackets required for entrance at male-dominated clubs and boardrooms, women bundled up their breasts to blend into a professional culture that predated their arrival. But in recent years, even as men continued to assume corporate uniforms of suits and ties, newswomen — one of the last vestiges of female suit wearers — have resoundingly dismissed them from their closets. They now flank themselves in bright sleeveless sheath dresses and stiletto heels, renouncing the once hard-and-fast edicts of television news: no bare legs, no long hair, no feminine distractions from the news. The revision of the female anchor’s dress code happened swiftly and broadly on network and cable television. And if newswomen are the most visible barometers of workplace fashion, the women’s suit may one day go the way of the petticoat.
“Ten years ago, professional dress meant a Talbots suit for women,” said Dave Smith, president of SmithGeiger, a market research firm that consults with news networks. “What’s appropriate for female talent on television has evolved because of familiarity. The audience has equal regard for female and male anchors. It’s given women far more liberty to be feminine.”
It’s also gotten out of hand…especially on cable news. This topic is one I had been mulling over doing a story on for a while now. If, ten years ago, the female cable news wardrobe situation skewed too heavily towards a cookie cutter suit sameness, now things have gone too far in the other direction. Now we see an over abundance of bare shoulders which itself has become the ‘new suit’ in terms of its ubiquity and boring sameness. Five years ago you could make a drinking game where you took a shot if someone wears a sleeveless dress and not get hammered. You try that now and you’ll be comatose by mid-day.
Sleeveless-mania is so out of control now it has broken though traditional seasonal patterns. The summer dress and its cousins would traditionally pop up in mid spring and hang around into the early fall when more winter style clothing like turtlenecks and boots would start appearing. No longer. Now the sleeveless or short sleeved dress appears year round.
Including right now. It’s 33 degrees in New York City today. All you NYC female anchors wearing sleeveless or semi-sleeveless dresses this week I have just one question for you, “Are you nuts?!? IT’S 33 DEGREES OUTSIDE! Why are you dressing for weather that doesn’t exist within a thousand miles of you?!?!”
We viewers aren’t stupid. We know when someone is trying too hard in the fashion department wearing clothing they wouldn’t normally wear this time of year. I was actually planning on waiting for the first big NYC snowstorm and then video capture every cable news talent that wore a sleeveless or semi-sleeveless dress and post them on the blog and call them out for it. I may still do that.
We need some sanity returned to cable news fashion. Dress sensibly. Dress for the occasion. Dress for the season. Dress for the weather. Don’t dress like you have no idea what occasion, season, or weather there is.