This ‘viral dress’ actually says a lot about what it’s like to be a female TV …

25 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Delightful Fashion Advice from Female Meteorologists (and Why They All Wear the Same Dress).

You may have already seen it by now — the cheap Amazon dress that has “gone viral” among TV meteorologists. The Internet has fallen in love with the story of the $23 “meteorologist dress,” which appeared this week — as if by magic (!) — on hundreds of thousands of televisions.The famous white and gold or blue and black dress that adorned the Internet earlier this year has been relegated to the back of the closet now that a new frock frenzy has taken over. The dress, which is sold on Amazon, was shared in a private Facebook group for females in the business and soon became a favorite among the women that deliver your weather every day.

That’s because female meteorologists across the country have taken a fancy to the Homeyee Women’s Stretch Tunic Pencil Sheath Dress that sells on Amazon for an easy-on-the-wallet price of just $22.99 and they are wearing them on TV en masse. An Imgur user has revealed the fact that many female meteorologists are wearing the same $23 dress — which, it turns out, says a lot about their job and the attitudes of fans. Link to the dress: The dress is pretty great. It all started when a meteorologist in Ohio found the stretchy shift and posted the bargain buy on a closed Facebook page for the professional weather watchers, according to the New York Post.

Bree Smith wrote that form-flattering dress was made of good quality material, had long sleeves and came in a variety of colors including pink, blue, red, green, purple, houndstooth and carmine. That meets strict dress codes that some work under: “Many stations even have consultants that come in and tell you colors you should and shouldn’t wear,” KOCO meteorologist Shelby Hays tells Tech Insider (white is bad and green would vanish with the green screen). Since the world’s first TV weather forecast (George Cowling, the BBC, 1936) they have worn suits, their only consideration how natty to go with the tie.

The next thing you know, more than 50 fellow meteorologists bought the same dress (which some said also vaguely resembled a Star Trek uniform) and started posted their pictures on the page. The dress costs around $23 on Amazon and $61 straight from the vendor, Homeyee, a China-based e-commerce site whose website is full of “lorem ipsum” placeholders and mistranslations. Then over the weekend, Dallas weather woman Jennifer Myers posted a collage of the colorfully frocked forecasters on Reddit and the dress zoomed to the top of the Internet charts. The low price point; wide variety of bright colors; stretchy fabric; and flattering, structured cut made it a shoo-in for meteorologists who need to build a high-volume wardrobe without, in most cases, an employer-provided clothing budget.

Of the women who appear on television news — and they’re already in the minority! — 88 percent were rated “highly” attractive in a 2007 study, versus only 12 percent for the guys on TV. So prevalent is this silhouette that in the US this week dozens of meteorologists were spotted wearing exactly the same dress: Homeyee’s stretch poly-cotton-spandex pencil tunic sheath, to be precise, available in seven bold colours from Amazon for $23. Their jobs require clothes that are comfortable enough to move around in (the sweeping arms of a cold front! the quick steps of an incoming hurricane!), fancy enough for a TV broadcast, and cheap enough to buy more than one. “Sometimes what to wear is biggest stress of my job,” the Weather Channel’s Jen Carfagno told me over email. “Don’t look too old, or too young. A body of research into the sexualization of female broadcasters suggests that means a few very specific things: youth; a small waist-to-hip ratio; blonde hair, frequently — and clothes that over-emphasize the chest and hips. (Like, say, a bright Spandex dress with black banding. “Can’t have a stomach or pudgy arms,” one reviewer says of it, helpfully.) Men, meanwhile, tend to get a pass on how good they look.

The ubiquity of one dress doesn’t surprise British weather veteran Siân Lloyd. “You have to remember that, with the weather, you are terribly confined,” she says. “You can’t do florals, stripes or checks; they shimmer and shake on television. They’re the kind of people that will send messages to women after their broadcast ends, commenting on what they were wearing, or the way they did their hair, or maybe just how particularly phenomenal they looked during their weather segments. Not only do stations fail to screen for male attractiveness in their initial hiring, research suggests, but it’s also okay for male broadcasters to age and grey in a way that it’s not for women.

In fact, men with wrinkles or greying hair are seen as more authoritative — whereas attractive women, who are required to look attractive to get their jobs, are typically considered less competent. Apart from at Christmas, when you have a huge captive audience, and I did get lent some fabulous garments – like one velvet jacket with a little fur collar.” Colour isn’t the only consideration: “You also don’t want to bare your arms in a formal broadcast. So if you find something that works, you tend to go for it in an OTT way.” In Lloyd’s experience, the producers don’t get involved (“you’re more or less an island, left to yourself”) and meteorologists do their own makeup, too, which can feel quite perilous when appearances are picked apart in real time on social media. Thankfully, she says: “Often the cheapest clothes work best on telly, I have some really great Dolce and Gabbana and Vivienne Westwood dresses but designer pieces that have an amazing billowing shape in real life can look awful on screen.

I honestly can’t recall the last time I wore a suit on air.” Sophia thinks that women preferred suits in previous generations of broadcasting, when they felt pressure to look as authoritative as the men who dominated the industry. “As more and more females were hired and climbed the ladder, I believe dresses and clothes outside the suit became more acceptable with the same credibility,” she says. Here’s one silver lining, at least: Jennifer Myers, the meteorologist who initially posted the collage to Imgur, captioned it with an affiliate link. And then plain jackets I have from Peacocks work a dream.” Nazaneen Ghaffar, a Sky meteorologist, uses a video wall, not a green screen, but still has to avoid patterns that would distort or colours that would cause her to be camouflaged against the map.

And dresses, more than suits, are easily available in colors other than black, a color she calls “unfriendly.” A blue suit could be even worse. “For a while there, you had to be really careful with what color blues you wore, what color greens you wore,” Abrams says. There were so many complaints; my mother was really upset.” She also had to relegate a dress with a top-to-bottom zip after unsavoury viewer comments. Luckily, her network uses TV monitors instead of the blue or green screens that could make ill-dressed meteorologists disappear, although color is still a major concern. “Remember the gold/black/blue dress thing? But it becomes a little burdensome when your wardrobe is a fundamental part of your job, even though your employer does not provide a stipend or allowance for clothing. At Sky, budgets must be healthier; Ghaffar has a stylist to shop with. “I pick what I want but she checks that it works – reds and blues are best; stripes we avoid.

And I always tuck my microphone pack into a pair of Spanx – that kills two birds with one stone.” Undeniably, bodycon dresses are more obviously feminine than the boxy suit jackets of the 80s and 90s – that Homeyee dress, says Lloyd, is designed to be flattering: “It has that thing of the black going down the side and at the waist to give that Jessica Rabbit shape. They all look blue on TV.” Sophia is conscious of her dresses’ texture, too. “I don’t want my clothes to be a distraction from the weather story I’m telling, so I shy away from leather and anything with sequins … because it tends to reflect the light,” she says. Since meteorologists can’t plug their mics into a desk like anchors sometimes do, they have to wear something that can accommodate a bulky mic and earpiece communicator device.

Carfagno wears hers on a strap around her thigh—like “a Bond girl,” she says—and Abrams tucks hers into her Spanx on her back; other women use a bra strap to keep it stable. Viewers have registered their disapproval when Carfagno’s worn something they considered too tight; some have even asked if she was pregnant. “Then I generally take that outfit off frequent rotation,” she says. Still, amateur opinions come in from all sides. “Nowadays with social media, [viewers] tell you everything you want to hear and not hear,” she says. Abrams loves to share her secret to staying warm in rain and snow: She buys heating wraps and pads from the pharmacy and sticks them all over her body, then wears a wetsuit.

She puts other heating pads in her jacket while she’s getting ready in the morning, so when she goes out into the storm, she’s “raging hot, sweating, like, you feel like you’re going to pass out.” Freezing temperatures are a problem in the studio, too. One of Abrams’ recent Instagram posts shows her and two other women wearing winter jackets and clutching a heating lamp during a commercial break while their male colleague claims sweaty armpits. (And yet the winter-unfriendly sheath dress remains queen on TV.) Very few on-air meteorologists get wardrobe budgets, which can make for a substantial financial burden if they don’t shop wisely. “I love French Connection, but they can be pricey,” Sophia says. “I wait until their dresses go on clearance and when it’s marked an extra 30 to 40 percent off the clearance price.” She owns more than 100 dresses, each of which cost an average of $40 to $60, from clearance racks at outlets like Dillard’s, Saks Off 5th, Michael Kors, BCBG, J.Crew, and H&M; she finds January to be the cheapest month for dress-buying. “This month, I’ve spent about $250 on my wardrobe and came home with six dresses,” she says. “There are some female reporters/meteorologists that have worked out trades with clothing stores that will allow [them to] borrow an outfit in trade for a 10- to 15-second ad during the newscast.” Abrams sees a silver lining to the hefty wardrobe demands. “You always have dresses for every event,” she says. She and one of her meteorologist friends, WABC’s Amy Freeze, swap dresses to keep things fresh. “I have, like, five of her dresses right now, and then I’ll give them back to her, she’ll take mine,” Abrams says. “We need to start this in our whole community with everyone who’s the same size.” And it’s not just solid green or blue that needs to stay in the closet — it’s every pattern or hue that has a touch of that color, which means a lot of clothing out there gets an immediate veto. The great part about this group is that it encompasses women across the entire spectrum of markets — from tiny to mega — and the most senior of these women have been through it all.

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