Fashion Covers the Media Beat

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This fall, the people who report the news are in the spotlight themselves — or at least their clothes are.

According to style experts, "media chic," which consists of a variety of journalism and entertainment industry-inspired pieces such as tailored tweed cargo pants and large tote bags, is a leading look this season.

"Media women are stylish and fashionable — a very trend-setting group," said Shaye Strager, spokeswoman for the women's clothing store Express (search). “We work with people in these professions and we were inspired by them."

The national chain store has designed three styles of pants based on media occupations: Editor, which are low-rise, wrinkle-free and wearable with kitten heels, loafers and stilettos; Stylist, which are fitted, comfortable and sexy; and Correspondent, which have cargo-ish pockets with tie closures meant for easy access to pens, cell phones and notepads, Strager said.

Fashion glossy Marie Claire also has the newswoman-chic scoop. In its October issue, the magazine will feature a fashion profile, entitled "Hemline News," of a make-believe correspondent who “looks great — functional, chic and fashionable,” said marketing director Kate Dimmock.

This fictional character will wear everything from "on-air clothes," or the perfect polished skirt suit, to a trench coat and pants when she's out in the field covering a story.

Dimmock said there are several reasons why women want to look like a modern-day Mary Tyler Moore (search). One is a growing fascination with media professionals, who are often depicted in movies and on television.

"Look at Carrie Bradshaw, Sarah Jessica Parker's character on 'Sex and the City.' She's a writer. People are intrigued by the media."

Another is the increasing prominence of journalists in a post-Sept. 11 world.

“There is more news now than there was two years ago. Correspondents like Ashleigh Banfield have gained in notoriety," she said. "They’re more high-profile.”

Dimmock said the Murphy Brown-evoking (search) look is also a celebration of working women.

“There’s a whole new crop of women who are role models who have jobs like magazine editor, online editor, correspondent," she said. "Women don’t have to dress in a dowdy way at work and they don’t have to dress like men."

Strager added that the look is also fitting for the still-recovering economy.

"It’s also known that media jobs don’t pay the most, so these fashions are stylish yet affordable," she said.

Real-life Fox News correspondent Heather Nauert said the practical styles, at least the Express correspondent pants, sound like they have the fashion beat covered.

“When you’re out in the field you need to be comfortable and sensible," she said. "You’re always running around, jumping in and out of cars and trucks. You need the pockets because there’s no place to put a purse, and you have your cell phone, lipstick, powder, pens, pads and IDs."

Nauert, who covered the Iraq war from Jordan, also said the journo look probably has something to do with more women in the news traveling to far-off places.

“When we go out, I’m thinking less about style and more about comfort and function," she said. "But if style meets function, even better. It would be great to have a fashionable pair of pants to wear on the air."