“My mother was big on beauty. She’d say, ‘Anna, how come you look so ugly? You dress like a boy. You not sexy nothing. Anna, fix hair. You cut the hair like a boy.’ She had this ancient view that a woman’s value was wrapped up in her appearance. But I never bought into that pressure to be pretty.”One day I wore a multicolored dress [on Today] and someone asked if I was trying to be Toucan Sam. But I chose it because I thought, ‘This will perk up America.’ I’m encouraged by my bosses to wear these ridiculously high-heel shoes because women say, ‘I love your shoes!’ So if it makes women happy, I’ll wear them. But I’m still going to be me.”
Ann Curry recently said this in an interview with The Ladies Home Journal. The interview was conducted before Ann was fired from her post as anchor on The Today Show but she probably knew what was coming as she was rather candid about her employers in the interview. Now Ann was held to a higher standard than most women because her job was to go on television each morning and tell millions of Americans the news of the day. But the sentiment that heel height and the color of your dress affecting your work abilities is something some working women can relate to, even if they aren’t sitting next to Matt Lauer. We talked to some fashion experts about this.
Kat Griffin, founder of the work wardrobe blog Corporette, told TheGrindstone:
“I’ve always been a big fan of Ann Curry’s style, but I do think that she has pushed boundaries for anchorpeople, who are often supposed to be very conservative. I suppose there’s a reason for this — you want the person giving you your news to be serious, competent, trustworthy — a lot of the same reasons why people like lawyers and bankers are advised to dress conservatively. That said: she was on a morning show, covering everything from serious news to puff pieces — and I’ve often heard her criticized for being TOO serious, and not “warm” enough. So I actually think the colorful clothes were a smart decision on her part.
For the everyday working woman: I think you really have to look at what trait you’re trying hardest to convey. Bright, on-trend colors do say you’re creative. Gray hair says you’re comfortable in your own skin (provided it’s well taken care of and doesn’t cross into the “I’m too Overwhelmed By Life to get to the colorist” category.) And flats say, well, that you prefer to wear flats.”
A recent CareerBuilder survey found that pink and red are the least preferred choice (1% or less) for CEOs. The presumption is that these colors are too girly and are not taken as seriously as the corporate world’s favorite colors, the always exciting navy blue and black (navy blue was the top choice at 36% amongst CEOs, with black falling behind at 26%.) And even though The Wall Street Journal declared this spring that the power suit look for professional women is overand that floral patterns and pastel colors, once thought to be office fashions sins, are now acceptable, we aren’t quite sure. We asked work fashion blogger Marion Green if you are allowed to wear “loud” colors in the office:
“Should you use restraint and good judgement when wearing color in the workplace? Absolutely. But a cobalt blouse or a deep red pencil skirt is not going to get you fired (sorry Ann). If you are a valuable asset to your company and produce great work results, then no boss is going to fire you based on colorful attire. That said, if your employer has a conversation with you regarding your attire and has asked you to “tone it down,” I would suggest you heed that advice. But it really shouldn’t have to happen. Just look around your office and if you stand out like a sore thumb, exercise good judgement.”