Newscasters Navigate Fashion Minefield

Carita Rizzo

While you stare groggily into the abyss of your closet, once again thinking you have nothing to wear, your impeccably groomed morning hosts are there to wish you a good morning on TV. But these newscasters didn’t leave their sartorial decisions up to chance. There is reasoning behind every fashion choice on morning TV.

Audrey Mansfield, visual stylist appearance coach for NBC-owned stations, makes sure the look is consistent from coast to coast. “You have a brand, and it’s not just the graphics or the content,” she says. “It’s also the expectation of the visuals on the talent.”

Whether local news or on national, the expectations are the same. “The look of local news doesn’t exist anymore. Just the content is local,” says Mansfield. “The audience expects talent to look like they’re at network level, even if they don’t have the same budget or the same help.”

Mansfield gives anchors and reporters a “menu for success” to avoid making purchases that won’t go the distance. The goal is not to be trendy, but on trend.

For male talent, the focus is on the silhouette. “It used to be that you could get a custom suit and it would last you 10 years. That doesn’t exist anymore,” says Mansfield. “Men’s fashion changes about every three years. There’s less shoulder padding. The lapel’s a little thinner. The fit is slimmer. There’s no pleats in the pants. All of that can immediately date you if you don’t have the right silhouette.”

Mansfield recommends that a female correspondent’s wardrobe be 90% solid-colored dresses, 10% patterns, with little white. “Men relate to color. Women are not afraid of it. And solids are less memorable to the audience, so you can do repeats more often.”

And there are no-nos: fur — real or faux — suede, animal or flowered print, lace, black, white, beige, pink, sheer fabrics, statement necklaces, or dark lipstick.

“All of those can add very minimal impressions that the audience retain. Anything you wear, think of yourself as Switzerland.”

Sandra Lee, Special correspondent, “Good Morning America”

“Morning television is a very special kind of TV. People are inviting you into their bedrooms. They need to trust you and feel good about who you are and what you communicate. And that you exemplify what their morals are,” says Lee. “I like things that are more conservative, but high fashion. Women are the most important consumers there are, and the last thing they need is to feel hyper competitive with someone they view as a friend.”

Megan Tevrizian, NBC 7 “News Today” anchor, San Diego

“The biggest thing is to dress appropriately for your story, and in the studio we cover hard news as well as lighter segments. One time I wore lip gloss, and my boss said, ‘You can’t have that much lip gloss for a domestic-abuse story,’” Tevrizian says. “If you’re covering a fire or something more rugged, you should wear a vest, with long sleeves underneath, or fire gear. … The tricky part is you never know what you’re covering so you have to be prepared for everything.”

Steve Chenevey, Fox 5 Co-Host of “Good Day DC,” Washington, D.C.

“D.C. is a fairly conservative town fashion-wise, and probably the only city where people may even assume your political stance based on what you wear, so I make sure I wear red and blue at least once every week,” says Chenevey, who anchors five hours daily. “As it gets past 9 o’clock, the show becomes a little more entertainment-driven. So after 10 o’clock, and this is huge, I sometimes take my tie off. That’s kicking back and getting crazy, D.C. style.”

Stephanie Simmons, CBS 2 morning traffic reporter, Los Angeles

“I work on the green screen, so I can’t wear anything green, and some blues also key out. I have maps behind me, so if I wear too many patterns it can look crazy — and people will let you know about it,” Simmons says. “They will call and complain, or tweet you. If you wear a subtle pattern and the lines are too close together, they moiré [produce a strange wavy pattern] on camera, even with HD. So I have a walk-in closet with really brightly colored, jewel-toned dresses.”

Marcellas Reynolds, Fashion correspondent, “Good Day L.A.” and “Good Day Chicago”

“As a fashion expert I can come on and be a little bit hipper, but I take bigger risks in L.A. than I do in Chicago,” Reynolds says. “I would never wear jeans; I would wear a suit. I would never wear tennis shoes; I would wear shoes. It’s the Midwest, so it’s a little more serious. Anything loud, anything graphic is a no-go. In fact, last time I was there I brought the jacket [in the picture], and they didn’t like it. I ended up wearing Ted Baker plaid.”

Rosanna Scotto, Fox 5 co-host of “Good Day New York,” New York

“I tend to be fashionable, but not fashion-forward — otherwise I’m going to look like the clothes are wearing me, and not like I’m wearing the clothes,” she says. “I once wore a dress that had cherries on it. As soon as I got off the air, my boss and everyone around me said, ‘Put that in your closet and keep it there.’ I think when you have too many patterns people are distracted. It’s one thing to get your attention, it’s another when the outfit is louder than you are.”

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