KTBC FOX 7 reporter Elizabeth Saab in action. (Photo: Michael Shane Gordon)
Local anchorwomen may not have as wide an audience as someone on Today or CNN, but they have to be just as camera-ready. So it came as a bit of a surprise to us when we found out that many local news stations don’t have the budgets to provide their anchors with a glam squad and wardrobe options. At your local news studio, you won’t find shelves full of Louboutins or Manolos. There are no racks of conservative-yet-stylish Roland Mouret or Zac Posen frocks. Usually, there’s not even a makeup artist on call for touchups. In local TV, the women delivering the news act as their own stylists and makeup artists.
Good Day KDFW FOX 4 Dallas anchor Lauren Przybyl at the news desk with her co-anchor Tim Ryan. Photo: Courtesy FOX4
“In local news, and this has been at every place I worked at, we have our own clothes,” Elizabeth Saab, a KTBC FOX 7 reporter in Austin, Texas, told us over the phone. Saab works as both an anchor and a reporter and has to take into consideration the different roles when she’s getting dressed. “I try to incorporate things that I wear on a regular basis to my wardrobe for work so I can get more bang for my buck. You want something that’s going to be a little more classic that you can continue to rewear.”
Saab focuses on practicality and comfort when she’s dressing to be in the field, as opposed to sitting in the studio all day as an anchor. When you’re out in the streets chasing down a story, footwear is key. “I would love to tell you that I’m wearing Manolos and Louboutins running around every day, but I’m not,” she said. “I’m wearing ballet flats, which really come in handy for me, and other kinds of flat shoes. Yeah, I’ll invest in a great pair of boots, but that’s just because I love shoes.” As it is for many women, striking the balance between footwear that is polished, professional, and comfortable is extremely important.
Lauren Przybyl shows her viewers how her footwear changes through the day. Photo: Lauren Przybyl Facebook
“I have a pair of great Lanvin flats that I run around in constantly; they’re just great solid colors that I rotate in and out of my wardrobe,” Saab explains. “In the winter months, I do wear boots, so I have a couple of great pairs of boots I can change up as well.” But once Saab is behind that anchor desk, the footwear gets a bit more fancy — and much higher. “When I’m filling in anchoring, I do wear heels. I know that’s weird because you don’t see my feet ever, but it’s kind of my personal thing.” Sarah Bloomquist, an anchor and reporter at WPVI ABC in Philadelphia, agrees. “When anchoring, I do wear heels even though my legs are under the desk. Something about heels just makes me feel polished and professional.”
We all have to consider the weather when we dress, but reporters have to be extra attentive, especially if they need to be outside to deliver a story in the elements — whether it’s a drizzle or a full-blown storm. “When I think about it, the way I dress is based off of what I’m assigned,” said Frances Wang, a reporter at KXTV ABC 10 Sacramento. “Because I’m the morning reporter, for example, in the summer it’s great. I’m in Sacramento where it gets to 100, 110 degrees in the summer. So when I get up in the mornings at 2 or 2:30, it’s perfect temps. Sixties, 70s. Perfect T-shirt, short-sleeved dress type weather. Winter is a whole different story. I used to try to get cute jackets in different colors and pair them with different scarves. But we just got these new ABC 10 jackets for our station and my morning manager wants me to wear that jacket only on air. It kind of sucks, but it makes life easier! I don’t have to think about anything, I just have to purchase new scarves.”
KXTV ABC 10 Sacramento reporter Frances Wang at work. (Photo: courtesy Frances Wang)
For reporters, dressing isn’t always as easy as getting up in the morning, putting on an outfit, and going to the field. “I travel around in a news van in the afternoons and stand outside at crime scenes, in blizzards, in excessive heat,” Bloomquist explained. “I take two changes of clothes to work each day so that I have the appropriate outfit for anchoring and another for standing outside in the elements.”
For anchorwomen, a flattering, professional-looking solid, usually brightly colored dress or separates seem to be the go-to choices. “In my ‘real life,’ I wear a lot of black. For my job, I wear bright colors frequently,” Bloomquist dished. “We’re broadcasting in high definition now, and color really jumps off the screen. Pink, purple, yellow I might not wear in my everyday life, but I do on the air.” While bright colors are a definite must, extremely busy prints and stripes are usually avoided, as they tend to make it more difficult for the camera to focus.
DVF’s wrap dresses were popular with the women we talked to, and J.Crew is also a favorite spot for local newswomen to shop. Bloomquist notes that the brand’s Tippi sweater is a staple for many. Because they’re buying their own work clothes, many of the anchorwomen we talked to say they frequent places like Nordstrom Rack, Marshall’s, or Last Call Neiman Marcus to pick up professional, good quality clothes at reasonable prices — you know, the way we regular, non-TV people shop. Lauren Przybyl, an anchor for Good Day KDFW FOX 4 Dallas, has mastered the art of bargain shopping in her area. “When I do shop the discount retailers in my area, or even just regular stores that I like to go to, I’ve done a little research to figure out which days they do their markdowns or that they restock some of their merchandise.” As with dressing for anything, fit and silhouette are key when you’re on TV. Anchorwomen and reporters have to find pieces that will flatter them on camera. Many of the women we spoke to said they look for pieces with fitted sleeves, as looser ones can make your arms look big.
Sarah Bloomquist, an anchor and reporter at WPVI ABC in Philadelphia, hits the streets. (Photo: courtesy Sarah Bloomquist)
Anchorwomen and reporters also have to have a DIY approach when it comes to their makeup. Though some smaller stations offer a hair and makeup squad as a perk, usually, you’ve got to have your own routine nailed down pat. Besides mastering a basic makeup routine, these women need to be able to appear on camera with a perfectly painted face, even if they’re racing against the clock. “Often, I am applying makeup in the passenger seat looking into a tiny mirror,” Bloomquist revealed to us. Sometimes, a TV station will have a makeup artist to consult with the women to help them figure out what works, what doesn’t, and the best way to apply cosmetics for the camera. Other times, women seek advice from their local makeup counter or from a makeup artist they know.
“You kind of have to do it all. I wish there was a five-minute face for TV, but I’ve kind of perfected the 20-minute face, maybe 15 minutes,” Przybyl said. “You have to have the powder so that you’re not so shiny on camera. That’s one of the things that comes with being on camera. I basically use the same stuff I use on the weekend, I just put on a little extra [for TV] than I normally would. I just make my look a little bolder.” Skin care is also an important factor, since makeup always looks better when it’s on a good canvas. “I spend more of my money on maintenance for my face. I don’t go crazy, but I invest in really great skin care products because I don’t want to be the news reporter who has to wear 50 pounds of concealer on her face every day.” Saab told us.
Elizabeth Saab dons a color-blocked blouse, black pants, and comfy flats to report on air. (Photo: Michael Shane Gordon)
Hair is also a very important factor when you’re an anchor, reporter, or both. It has to be flattering, functional, and usually, familiar to viewers. “Hair needs to be clean and out of your eyes,” Przybyl said. “I think it needs to look pretty much the same every day. In the TV world, there is something to be said for consistency, and that’s really what the viewers want. I try to remember that because they see you every morning and if you change something up, they notice it.” Still, that doesn’t mean that change isn’t welcome. “Recently, I changed my hairstyle ever so slightly,” Bloomquist said. “For years, I had a little flip. About two months ago, I lost the flip and made it straight. I’ve received so many comments from viewers and people on the street telling me how much they love my hair now! I don’t know if it was the subtle change, but I was surprised by how many people noticed and the positive feedback I’ve received.” But even with the slight change, Bloomquist stresses, “Consistency is essential. People expect the same newsperson each day. I wear my hair exactly the same way every single day.”
Hair gets a bit more complicated if you color it — especially if you’re a blonde. Wang notes that a blond newswoman at her station told her that the most expensive part of maintaining her look was her hair color. “If anything, women complain more about having to maintain hair color than their wardrobes.” Bloomquist tells us that she outsources some help from her local stylist and colorist. “Often, when I come in for my appointment, they will suggest a slight change based on what they saw when I was on the air.”
Sarah Bloomquist with her co-anchor Rick WIlliams. (Photo: courtesy Sarah Bloomquist)
Viewers will not hesitate to offer their unsolicited opinions about these women’s appearances, which makes it all the more stressful when you’re the one putting yourself together. “Women in the business are more closely scrutinized when it comes to attire,” Bloomquist said. Sometimes, viewers will take to a news station’s social media page to offer their views on anchorwomen’s appearances. “I once wore this black and white Trina Turk dress. I had my eye on it for a while, I saw it on sale, grabbed it, and I wore it to work the following week,” Przybyl recalled. “I think within an hour or two of me being on the news, someone had already posted a picture online of me in the dress, they’d taken a screenshot from the TV — and it was next to a picture of Beetlejuice.” Still, like many anchorwomen, she takes it all in stride. “I haven’t worn the dress on air since, but I’ve worn it for other stuff since I love it.”
Wang says that sometimes the criticisms can be a generational issue, depending on where you are. “When I was in Spokane, one viewer wrote in on our Facebook page about how my dress was too tight. It’s funny because I thought it was appropriate. It was a high collar and you couldn’t see my collarbones. And it was tight, so I can see why she said that,” she explained. “But that’s when I got more aware of my boobs. I’ve always had big boobs, and I’ve never been conscious about tightness, but I’ve been worried about cleavage. But to an older grandma-type woman, they might not like a tight dress, even if your chest is covered.”
Lauren Przybyl, clearly camera ready. (Photo: courtesy Lauren Przybyl)
But even with all the thinking that goes into their appearances, for anchorwomen and reporters, the main focus is always the story. “I got into this industry to tell stories, not look like Cindy Crawford — not that I would mind,” Saab said. “That’s why I try so hard to keep it on the story. I could sit here and tell you, ‘I wear Roland Mouret and I shop at Chloé,’ but I don’t. I think the most important thing is telling great stories. I think some people in my industry have forgotten that.”