The debate over what companies should and shouldn’t be telling female employees to wear is one that reached parliament earlier this year, following the dismissal of London receptionist Nicola Thorp from work because she wasn’t wearing high heels.
Questionable dress codes continue to plague us without any further resolution, even in organisations like the BBC that should perhaps know better.
Granted, it makes sense that there are certain rules for presenters who are about to be on camera – red on a red background is never a winner, for example. But this list of can- and can’t-wears, leaked by presenter Sam Smith, has been a bit of an eye opener.
“The below is my view based on long experiences of getting it wrong and very occasionally right both reporting and presenting…this is a starting point for a conversation so pitch in with your own thoughts,” the Mirror reports that the start o the email reads. “This is a minefield of PC pitfalls.”
The paper claims that the email then goes on the describe the items that look good on TV, such as well-fitted suits, block colours, simple make-up and ankle-length trousers.
Apparently, Smith claims that “skirts should reach to somewhere around your knees – controversial, maybe – but I honestly believe anywhere else is distracting.”
To who, we wonder? The Beeb also advises against presenters having long hair, as “shoulder length and above is easier to cope with.”
Items placed on the ‘please avoid’ lists included sunglasses, flip-flops, bright make-up, patterns, leather, fur, jewellery and anything baring a logo.
“This informal advice was shared with a small number of staff who appear onscreen about what does and doesn’t work on camera or under TV lighting,” the BBC told the Mirror in response.
Fair enough. Though we’re still baffled by the hair and skirt length. Does the Beeb wash presenter’s hair for them, we wonder? Run a comb through in the evening, and therefore are clued up about its manageability? And has, say, Fiona Bruce ever been sent home for rolling her skirt up an inch? How short is too short? What about a midi? So many questions.