Dressing The Part…or not…

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.


9 Responses to “Dressing The Part…or not…”

  1. I blame Michelle Obama for the whole sleeveless trend. Its all her fault. In four years, it will finally be over.

  2. So, I always wondered how you temp control a set that has a girl in a cleavage showing sleeveless dress next to a guy in a full wool suit showing nothing but his face and hands? It must be warm with all the lights and she isn’t shivering, she clearly has a padded bra, and her lips aren’t turning blue from hypothermia (not that we would know with the uber-shiny turtle wax lipstick they wear). I am convinced they put the male co-anchor behind a desk because he isn’t wearing pants. (At CNBC, they call that a twofer.)

  3. Are you kidding? With all those lights there’s a lot of heat generated on set. It’s not cold there.

  4. I rarely notice what a host, male or female, is wearing on air unless it’s something that is totally unexpected. If Rachel Maddow did a show in a hot pink sleeveless sheath dress I’d be asking WTF.

    Last night LOD did a bit where he sat on some steps and pretended to be drinking. He was wearing a suit and sneakers. It caught my eye. There was a time awhile back on MJ where Joe and some other show regulars wore sweaters that looked out of place and drew some comment. And who can forget the BW’s fascination with sleeves on the FNC women.

    I say wear what feels comfortable to you; although I draw the line at a halter, bare midriff and short shorts.

  5. As someone who is constantly cold, I could NEVER see how these women wear these sleeveless dresses, year round, on TV (and I’ve written this before on this very site). And I particularly agree with Spud’s assessment of this in the winter – who are they kidding?

  6. Ok, I get that TV people should make some effort to reflect the season in the way they dress, but it’s kind of silly to presume they need to. As Spud says, it’s freakin’ hot in there. All year.

  7. So your topic about female anchor fashion .and other thinks say good …

  8. This subject has been driving me up the wall and down again for months/years now. The sleeveless bimbettes on TV! Grrr. I wouldn’t mind if I lived in hot climes but up here in the Northeast area, sleeveless is totally inappropriate on these babes. I blame the producers… you know, the male ones, who are all insisting every single female on TV go blonde…even the beautiful dark haired anchors are sporting stripes now, going blonde slowly but surely. I am so sick of every in this country being a fake blonde… who do they think they are kidding, especially with an inch of black roots coming thru up top!

    Cover the arms up, you all do not have great arms, and let your hair go natural for pete’s sake! The colors you were born with are your best colors naturally.

    Just for the network people, whenever I see a female in sleeveless attire in winter, I change the channel right away…

  9. The women should at least be permitted to slip on some tailored slacks under their overcoats when they go outdoors in cold weather. I see them shivering from the wind and chill every winter while trying to do their jobs, their bare legs exposed to the elements. As for the sleeveless dresses, I think longtime and respected WNBC anchor Sue Simmons might have been let go because she wouldn’t wear one. Too bad. She and Chuck Scarborough made a great team.

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