Dressing for TV: bright colors and no armpits

Dressing for TV is not easy. The camera adds 10 pounds, and colors must be chosen with care. 

The key, says Megyn Kelly, co-anchor of Fox News’s “America’s Newsroom,” is bright colors. She and other Fox correspondents have a style department that oversees their ensembles. “I was a corporate lawyer and my entire wardrobe was black, brown, navy and gray,” Kelly recalls. That might be acceptable in a courtroom, she says, but for TV, “it’s dull and not interesting to look at.”

Now her wardrobe is bursting with “reds, yellows, purples, pinks and oranges.”

As A.B. Stoddard, The Hill’s own TV personality, notes, “Turquoise, purple, red and orange may have gone out of fashion 15 years ago, but they are still the most flattering on television. Banana Republic Beige and chalk-gray are hip but can add several years or make you look nauseous.”

Men have to get it right, too. They “can’t wear a suit that’s purple,” Kelly says, but a purple necktie or one with patterns is good. A blue shirt looks exceptionally good on TV — Bill Hemmer, Kelly’s co-anchor, “has about 30 different shades of blue for ties and they all look great,” she says.

Michael Crowley, of The New Republic, prefers to go without a tie for shows such as MSNBC’s “Scarborough Country.” He makes the look work for him. “I just feel comfortable without one,” he says. “I like the way it looks for me personally.”

Someone at Fox News once called down from New York and made him put on a tie, but bookers told him he looked best without one. “The main thing is I feel more at ease,” he says. “People at that show have said, Whatever makes you feel most comfortable — within reason — is what you should do.”

Crowley jokes that the look has been blessed by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who generally wears a jacket, shirt and no tie. “I can’t say he’s exactly my role model,” the scribe says, “but he may be a sign of some global trend.”

(Actually, the trend is centuries old. Ties became fashionable across Christendom after soldiers wearing them repulsed the Turks from the gates of Vienna in the 17th century. Naturally, ties never had much cache in the Muslim world.)

But back to ties on TV. Bold and bright is best. Fox News’s Capitol Hill correspondent, Major Garrett, used to ball up his ties in a drawer, but they still looked great on air, Kelly recalls.

You can go too far, though. On last Sunday’s “Meet the Press,” Richard Perle, former chairman of the Defense Policy Board, wore a blinding orange tie with a matching leather watchstrap. Didn’t work.

Too shiny is also a no-no. “On women a silk blouse does not usually work,” Kelly says.

And forget about going sleeveless. “I object to seeing any armpits on air. I don’t need to see that.”

Who does?