Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Too much focus on what Catherine wears!

When I took J-classes in college, I was taught that the six most important things to write were: who, what, where, how and why?

Where seems to have become wear when journalists write about the Duchess of Cambridge,  especially when she appears in public.  The focus has become what the duchess is wearing (coat, dress, shoes, oh, it's that clutch again), and not on the who, what, where, how and why.

This bothers me.  Why?  It is sexist, for starters, because focusing on the clothes diminishes what the Duchess is trying to do: highlight important charities.   When a royal male is working, reporters rarely mention the clothes, apart from the color of the suit.  It is demeaning to report on what a woman wears, and not what a woman does.  The reporting has become too shallow and less focused on the real story.  The clothes are not the real story.

Yes, there is the "Kate effect," where the largely British designers have seen their bottom line soar after the Duchess is seen wearing their clothes.  Last year, Seraphine, a British design firm that specializes in maternity wear, saw their profits jump 60%  due to the Duchess of Cambridge's clothing choices.  

Profits are a good thing.  Companies can grow, and pay more to their workers (one hopes) but reporters should report on the Duchess and the event, first and foremost, as the duchess is not a mannequin, but a member of the British royal family.    Although there are still a few glass ceilings that need to be crashed, the number of women executives, political and religious leaders and CEOS continue to grow.  No serious journalist would report what these women are wearing so why should they report what the Duchess of Cambridge is wearing?

In contrast, read this article from the Sydney Morning Herald about Crown Princess Mary of Denmark's visit to Ethiopia.   The writer does not mention what the Crown Princess is wearing.  This is how the Duchess of Cambridge's engagements, at home and abroad, should be covered.

Beat reporters and journalists should leave the fashion reporting to the fashion magazines and bloggers, and focus on the who, what, where (NOT WEAR), how and why.

It can be done.  Here is a very good example about the Duchess of Cambridge's visit earlier today to the Emma Bridgewater factory in Stoke-on-Trent.  Richard Palmer is getting a round of applause from me (and a thank you) for writing a good, responsible news story about the Duchess of Cambridge.  Plenty of photos, but no mention of what she wore.    This is classic reporting: who, what, where, how and why.

Oh, by the way, I am wearing a Ralph Lauren rose pullover with Ralph Lauren jeans and G.H. Bass Shoes.  My handbag is by Coach.  My silver earrings were bought in tiny jewelry store in Budva, Montenegro's Old Town.  My watch is by Bulova (Caravelle) and my silver flower bracelet was purchased in Bucharest, Romania.  As it is very cold here today, I wore one of my two Icelandic wool jackets (bought in Iceland), with a Washington Nationals scarf, a multi-colored Washington Nationals winter hat, and Washington Nationals gloves.


Holly B. said...

I totally agree, the clothing comments should be left to the fashion bloggers, it not only diminishes her work but it diminishes the reporter as well.

And btw, I love my Icelandic wool jacket, too!

Holly in Michigan

Matthew Plooster said...

Reminds me of an interview where Hillary Clinton was asked which designers she wears. Her response was perfect: "Would you ever ask a man that question?" The host's response was "probably not, probably not."

I don't think the Countess of Wessex has been praised properly for the role she plays. Recent articles covering her 50th birthday have talked about her new sense of fashion, especially given certain patronages. However, what little media attention she gets tends to focus more on her work than her clothes. She and the Duchess of Cambridge wear some of the same designer's necklaces. Sophie has worn them for ages, but it wasn't until Catherine wore them that they instantly sold out.

We're all for boosting the industry, but at what cost? Culture and society...

Cheryl Ciucevich said...

Cheers to you for this post! This obsession with what a princess wears goes back in time, but it really got out of hand with Diana. However, we can't blame everything on the media. Clearly, there is a hunger for it--many, many royal blogs focus on Catherine's clothes. Plus, Catherine herself could choose to wear fewer new outfits or less remarkable fashions. I know that her "repeat" outfits get noted as repeats, but if she wore them a dozen times a year, people would stop noticing. The Princess Royal has drawn very little attention due to her sartorial choices, and she has been in the public eye for more than 60 years.

PS Are you, by any chance, a Washington Nationals fan? LOL