In The Newsroom, Dressing Truth Before Power

The Transom’s reporters have recently been scolded by a fashion reporter for looking “terrified and clearly out of place” at fashionable events. (And: “SO nerdy, and they dress/ act like it! They walk around with glasses and little notepads. Nobody is going to open up to people like that!”)

So it was with great interest that we saw that fashion powers-that-be have weighed in on two distinguished newswomen of the New York Times: prisoner of principle Judith Miller and prisoner of the Culture department, Arts & Leisure deputy editor Ariel Kaminer. They’re two of our very favorite power journo-machers… but do their fashions convey their schwang?

As for Ms. Miller’s big day in court this week, The Washington Post said:

She was also carrying a black shoulder bag whose most distinguishing feature was its ability to keep a multitude of writing tools within easy reach. […] She was wearing the sort of practical, comfortable and just-stylish-enough clothes that can be worn in any situation […] With her sensible pageboy and its trim bangs, she has the look of an English lecturer at Barnard. […] She wore reporter clothes — almost a suit, but not really.

Clearly, nobody is going to open up to people like that.

As for Ms. Kaminer: in a spread in the August, 2005, issue of Lucky magazine (p.158), she looks strangely, wondrously radiant for someone, in The Transom’s opinion, who has been forced to sit so very close to former culture boss Jon Landman for so long. Though she does not, surely, appear as radiant as other members of the Arts department, nor could she have that special glow spread by a television critic in the office. (Perhaps this is a good place for The Transom to disclose that it once lifted a small suitcase of money from Arts & Leisure in exchange for a small suitcase of words.)

What The Transom is saying is: the New York Times, though not a terribly womanly place, is in fact a very fertile place at the moment. It is perhaps a dangerous and wonderful time to have ovaries.

But back on topic: “[T]he Times,” Ms. Kaminer told Lucky, “is obviously a place where the emphasis is on working hard, not dressing up.” (She also notes that in her first job, her fashion look was more like “an attempt to convince people I’d slept in my clothes,” a sentiment the Transom can really get behind.)

And most importantly: “If you can’t compete,” Ms. Kaminer said to Lucky, “don’t: nothing’s more uncomfortable than looking like you’re trying too hard.” Clearly it’s damned if you do and damned if you don’t for The Transom. And so it is decided: The Transom shall err on the side of schlub.
—Choire Sicha