Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Bare arms are still for cocktails, and for movie premieres

If you're going to appear on a news program as a public official, you really shouldn't have bare arms. I've said this before. But what happens when you have more than one appearance to make in an evening?

Michelle Rhee recently sat down with ABC News to discuss her service as DC Schools Chancellor, and whether she just cost Adrian Fenty the nomination in the DC Democratic Mayoral primary (she says yes). After a montage of file footage showing Rhee in her signature structured black clothing, she suddenly appears on the screen in a burgundy dress with a cowl neck and no sleeves:

Seeing Ms. Rhee sitting down for a formal interview in this outfit was jarring in the first shot, until the story continues to mention (and show footage of) her appearance on the red carpet for the premiere of a documentary about DC public schools in which she stars. On the red carpet, she's wearing the dress - it's obviously the same night, although the shot is quick and it's never explicitly stated.

ABC could have just as easily chosen not to mention the red carpet appearance, or mention it but not show it. And then we would all be scratching our heads trying to figure out why on earth she was dressed this way. Even with this explanation, I can't recommend this look. Her shoulders practically glow under the studio lights. This dress, as a dress, is pretty conservative and not all that dressy. It would have looked great with one of the many black blazers we know she owns thrown over the top of it. And then we might not even have noticed that she just walked in from a movie premiere.

It's ironic, too, that a woman known for wearing black eschewed that traditional evening wear shade and opted for color instead. But the burgundy works for her. She could even include the dress-plus-jacket look in her regular work wardrobe.

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