Women can often be scrutinized about their appearance. There are a lot of opinions when it comes to clothes. Too revealing, not revealing enough, too plain, or too patterned.
Repeating the same outfit can also be a problem for some. We wanted to see what kind of a response we would get if two of our WTWO-TV anchors wore the same outfit every day for one week.
“I plan to not change my dress. Maybe wash it a few times for sure,” says Meteorologist Robyn King.
King wore the same dress on air every day for an entire week.
“I think that there’s a double-edged sword,” says King. “I think a lot of people do focus on what I wear. Not that I mind that, but I do want them to actually pay attention to what I’m trying to say.”
Viewers noticed, and took action with Facebook messages.
“Hey what’s up with you wearing the same dress? Did someone steal your wardrobe,” reads one message sent to King.
But it wasn’t as obvious when her male counterpart, Chief Meteorologist Jesse Walker, did the same thing.
“No viewers made any comment that I wore the same thing,” says Walker.
Including people who were actually in on the experiment.
“Even my coworkers after a couple days I said, ‘have you noticed anything different?’ And they’re like what,” says Walker.
I’m reporting on the story, and I even forgot about his outfit all week, but everyone remembered Robyn. Susan Kray, an associate professor of gender studies at Indiana State University, explains why that may be.
“Audiences apparently have that expectation. They’re used to it. I don’t think they scrutinize the men’s clothing, because it does what it’s supposed to do. It covers them up,” says Kray.
As for the women?
“Women are expected to be different, creative, colorful, entertaining in the way they dress,” says Kray.
Even our expert feels the need to change up her wardrobe to limit recycled looks.
“I learned right away that the expectation is you wear something different every day. Doesn’t have to be glamorous. Just has to be workplace appropriate, but different,” says Kray.
Women in other professions experience similar expectations with their clothing.
“Being in the banking atmosphere, mainly giving customers loans. They’re coming to you, and wanting your help,” says Hannah McConchie, a commercial lender at Terre Haute Savings Bank. “To me, I want to represent myself as best as I can, so that they feel comfortable coming to me as often as they want.”
What would happen if she didn’t come to work dressed up?
“They would just look at you like what is going on with you? You need to go home and change. This isn’t–this isn’t normal,” says McConchie.
Despite the expectations, the women interviewed said dressing up has its benefits.
“It makes me feel good whenever my hair is done, my makeup’s done. I look good. To me, you can just conquer the day better,” says McConchie.
But comments on clothes aren’t always uplifting.
“Women and people in general, if you spend more time supporting each other, that that will go a long way,” says King.
After all, it’s just clothes.
“The fact that there’s so much unfairness in what you wear. It’s just, it sounds kind of silly when you step back, and think about it,” says King.