Last night, Katie Couric, the first solo anchorwoman in television history, made her debut on the CBS Evening News.
I suppose I should have been paying attention to her journalist expertise, her savvy skills as a hard-driving investigative interviewer, or maybe just been pondering the fact that I was watching a woman break through the biggest barrier in her career.
Instead, what enthralled me most about this important, historical event was what colors she chose to wear.
Analyzing Kate Couric Wardrobe Choice
Following the current trend of black-and-white dressing, Katie wore a white jacket over a black dress. Black and white is a combination that is not only timely, but also chic and elegant in its simplicity; a classic look that combines the sophistication of black with the purity of white.
“Black never goes away. It’s so symbolic; it’s sophisticated, elegant, classic, safe, dependable, and classy,” says Leatrice Eiseman, internationally renowned color and design expert. Black is seen as authoritative and powerful. Interesting that the words we use to define black could also be used to describe qualities most of us look for in a respected news broadcaster.
Black is also a color that is known to make the wearer appear thinner. However, after how gracefully Katie handled last week’s airbrushed picture fiasco (without her knowledge, CBS promotional magazine Watch! digitally altered Katie’s picture to make her look about 20 lbs. thinner), I doubt that anyone would dare to suggest Katie wore black for its slimming qualities.
In contrast, white generally projects purity, cleanliness, and neutrality. It is a color that encourages us to clear clutter or obstacles, and in this position, it is likely that Katie will need to do both in order to reinvigorate the CBS Evening News.
The symbolism of the “white jacket” adds another layer of meaning. A white jacket, an undeniable icon worn by medical professionals, scientists, chefs, and other professionals, symbolizes trust, confidence, knowledge, and wisdom.
While I enjoy analyzing the color combination and think that it may have been a long considered choice, there’s another part of me that knows it could have been simply an intuitive decision or perhaps even a sudden inspiration that came to Katie while reading the August issue of Vogue magazine. In this issue, we are reminded that white “is often like a clean slate – simple, fresh, and full of potential.”
Regardless of what you or I may think about her actual wardrobe decision, I think that in theory the black and white combination was a perfect color choice. Taking into account what colors are most flattering on Ms. Couric, however, black and white were a huge misstep.
Katie Couric Wardrobe Choice Not Her Best Choice
For her soft coloring, the strong contrast of black and white is too stark. Your eye is drawn to where black meets white rather than to where the focus should be, which is on her face. It is the tone in her voice and the expressions on her face that send us signals related to trust and credibility. This is where our eyes need to be focused not distracted by a poor wardrobe choice.
Her best hue of dark blue would have been a much better choice. Dark blue sends a message of trust, honesty and integrity perfect for this situation. It is a color that enhances her natural skintones, hair and eye color. If she had been wearing a deeper blue it would have helped focus our attention on her face and our connection with what she was saying. I hope that her future wardrobe choices will be in colors that make her look and feel absolutely great as she embarks on this new chapter in her journalism career.
Now, you may ask – would I have paid as much attention or given so much relevance to color choice if she were a man? Well, yes and no.
Since this has always been a male-dominated position, a conservative colored suit and tie have always been the style du jour, but if Brian Williams delivered the news wearing a black shirt and white jacket last night, I guarantee I would be talking about it today.
What’s exciting is that with Katie comes the possibility of a new era in color and style for our evening news. Will she step up to the challenge? We will have to stay tuned to find out!