Dear WSJ On-Air Journalists…

Cindy Crawford, MTV House of Style

On the heels of Tuesday’s story about Turkish Airlines requiring its staff to cool it on the maquillage during working hours, another company has come out encouraging the opposite. The Wall Street Journal’s Deputy Editor-in-Chief, Matt Murray, and video operations head, Chris Cramer, sent a memo urging their staffers (both male and female) to get a bit more gussied up for their on-camera appearances. Of course, there is something to be said for dressing appropriately for whatever job you have—or, actually, the job you want?—but what, if any, input should your employer have in how you present yourself on a daily basis? As much as we're an anything-goes, you-do-you society, workplace dress and beauty codes aren't going anywhere. "All of us appearing on-air should take care to present ourselves in the best light possible, and that includes physical appearance," one line of the editors' memo reads, suggesting both men and women get a "quick dash of powder." After all, "You want the spotlight focused on your stellar journalism–not shining off your forehead." (Which reminds us: what about the lighting team?! They better get some nudging, too. Good lighting makes all the difference...)

Murray and Cramer tread lightly with their wording, careful to avoid a nagging or negative tone, but rather seem to offer support to their journalistic crew. They want to help you with your appearance, not hinder you, even offering their “resident makeup artist on the 6th floor…” in case you need a hand. But for all you WSJ-ers unable to pay a visit to the makeup artist, we would like to offer ourselves as a proverbial sixth floor and, to steal a phrase from Lena Dunham and her Girls, be your “crack spirit guide.”

P.S.: On any given day, we're lucky to be able to wear Adidas track pants, overalls, leather shorts, and crop tops to the office, so, you know, you could always come work here. But actually, where do you work? And what's your dress code?

Photo: Cindy Crawford hosting MTV's House of Style.

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  • Elaine R

    PS You can wear leather shorts in your office? Where can I sign up?

  • mt

    When I was a graduate student teaching assistnat, I was determined not to be the stereotypical campus schlub. The dress code was pretty much "anything goes," but I always showed up with neatly applied lipstick and a fresh application of Bare Minerals face powder before I taught (the dewy thing just doesn't work under fluorescent classroom lights). I also kept my eyebrows in good order and liked to have a fresh, no-nonsense scent, usually Hermes Jardin sur le Nil (spring) or Kelly Caleche (fall). Even at higher-level jobs and functions, one can get a lot of mileage out of that basic routine.

    • Angela_E

      I'm on the other side of the spectrum. I'm a grad teaching assistant, and I dress like a "campus schlub" (to be fair, my paychecks are less than impressive). On campus, I'm always in jeans and a variety of colorful kicks (Nike, Gola, Adidas). I wear little makeup other than sunscreen and lip gloss. My only embellishments are my linen scarves, loud nail polish, and ridiculous amount of rings on my fingers (my only splurge). Some deem my style too casual and undergraduate-y, but I have great rapport with my students who always remark on my evals on how approachable and accessible I am. Admittedly, though, I have the sense of a humor of a 13 year old boy, which tends to be a hit with most undergraduates.

      • CFH

        I'm graduate student, too. One of the challenges of this lifestyle, for me, is that I have tons of unscheduled time, but it's hard to determine when it's "free time." I probably take too much free time in the mornings while getting ready (and reading blogs, what up ITG)... would I be further along on my dissertation if I hadn't gotten so into skincare as a G1??

        Anyway, my style is the same whether I'm teaching or holing up in the fine arts library: matte lipstick, large vintage earrrings, only ever dresses or skirts (going on 6 years, day in and day out). I try to tread that line between grandmother and drag queen.

        • magpie

          +1. I was a law student at a slightly stuffy institution; in my first year a classmate told me I dressed like a chic grandma. Or, on another day, a stylish version of Rachel Berry. (This is before she got all gussied up in NYC.) Still not 100% that these were compliments, but hey, I'll take the happy honesty.

          • Hannah

            Well, hey, my dad once told me I looked like "a crazy Soviet grandmother." I have decided to assume this is a compliment

    • Esme

      I always love hearing about what other grad students wear to teach! I fall somewhere between the two of you: my usual teaching outfit is dark skinny jeans, a v-neck shirt, a blazer (usually black), ballet flats, and maybe a colorful scarf. I adore bright lipsticks but don't feel comfortable wearing them to teach, so I usually settle for a boring, ahem, "work-appropriate" MLBB lipstick, plus mascara and either eyeliner or eyeshadow. I do wear my usual bright nail polishes, though. It would take more than a graduate teaching job to come between me and my blue glitter polish.

      • Mina

        This sounds like my graduate school "uniform"! Blazer, v-neck tee, dark jeans, ballet flats, scarf. To each his own, but I am a firm believer in dressing for success, and my vision of success does not involve sweatpants or slovenliness. I am dismayed by the way that students dress nowadays - as if they had rolled out of bed and decided to come to class. This is disrespectful to the professors and to fellow classmates. There is a huge difference between the idiosyncrasies of one's style - e.g., colorful sneakers and nail polish, etc., - versus looking disheveled and untidy. We are judged by our appearance and there is nothing we can do about it, so why not make the best of it?

        • magpie

          I hate to say it, but from not-too-distant memory of being an undergrad, probably they DID feel pretty good about just rolling out of bed and coming to class.

          But I'm with you. Hate sweatpants, even if it's Marant. I'd rather skip class than look schlubby any day. In fact, I what I did back then. Oops. <3

  • mt

    I also think it's very important to have neat hands on the job (no matter what it is). They don't need to be manicured, but they do need to be well groomed. No one wants to look at, borrow a pen from, have their groceries packed by or shake a peeling, dirty-fingernailed, hand with untrimmed nails and bleeding cuticles.

  • Meryl Friedman

    Gotta love being a 'creative'; you can get away with fashion choices that may not work in other jobs. Currently rocking a red-orange lip, cambray shirt, black jeans, and black and white Nikes.

  • Anna

    I'm incredibly lucky to work in a super casual tech firm in Vermont, but I've never been tempted to show up in yoga pants. I have yet to invest in a nice suit or a frumpy pair of heels, for which I am incredibly grateful, but I do really like that I can dress up, down, or all over the place and not have anyone give me a stern look.

  • Somebody from Somewhere
  • L

    Law firm. Business formal at all times. Thank god for easy silk tops from Joie, basic JCrew pencil skirts, black shifts and Hermes scarves. And makeup wise nothing works better than perfectly groomed brows, a BB cream and some Lancome Doll Lashes.

  • KT

    I'm a registered nurse, so I always try to wear "no-makeup" makeup. Chanel probably has the best safe-for-work choices especially their rouge coco shines. No nailpolish for me either (the germs!). I really can't stand people who don't dress professionally and relevant to their profession. I mean MACs candy yum yum definitely has a place in the ITG office, but not in a hospital. And then there are the nurses that can't be bothered at all and roll in like they have just gotten out of bed...seriously, nobody wants a shower from somebody who doesn't look like they shower themselves!

    • Jenn

      Do polished nails spread germs? I was unaware of this.

      • Lauren

        Not polished nails per say, but nails longer than roughly finger-tip length can lead to an increased risk of spreading bacteria and pathogens because people don't clean well beneath them (studies on NICUs and surgical areas in particular have demonstrated this) Also, chipped nails and further chips in nail polish can possibly contaminate sterile areas of hospitals.

        Acrylics and extenders are the worst since they often collect moisture (perfect place for bacteria and pathogens to grow) under the artificial nail and inhibit proper hand hygiene.

        Yikes and gross!!!

        • Kattttt

          This is why I hate long nails - I totally understand the attraction, but thinking of the germs...
          The few times I have cut myself on my very short nails, it has always gotten infected instantly. I wash my hands and clean my nails, and yet! Rihanna must be one unlucky scratch away from leprosy.

  • Angelo

    Ummm, what kind of person doesn't use a free makeup artist?

  • Rt

    work at a sandwich chain as a delivery driver, so obviously the dress code is pretty brutal: company hat and shirt, non skinny blue jeans or khakis (yeah, "non-skinny" is part of the dress code) and black or white sneakers. I always try to do more fun makeup to kind of show that I'm a person and not a sandwich drone, but since nail polish and lipstick are verboten, options are limited. Alas, I make pretty decent money to buy fun products and clothes for my off time!

  • ikillplants

    Art history graduate student, formerly a curatorial assistant at a museum. I left the world of structured shift dresses, heels, and button earrings and had to re-engage with business casual once I left my job (eek!). Clean lines, color, good prints and lots and lots of diaphanous scarves and hard jewelry are my MO now. I believe in a good nail color working as the best accessory on a tight budget. Keeping the beauty routine the same: bare skin, winged black eyeliner, rosy cheeks, some smudgy highlighting around the eyes.

  • Heather P.

    Look, I get where they're coming from - if part of your job involves being on camera, representing your company, wearing powder to get the shine off your face is kind of part of the whole deal. Everyone...and I mean EVERYONE on television gets a little help from the makeup department. It's just part of the job. It would be no different than my boss requiring that I not swear at work (I'm a college instructor)...which he does...and I respect it. I don't take that as a referendum on my character, or a slap to my rights...I just get that it's part of what I signed up for. Teachers don't cuss - and people who are on TV for a living shouldn't look like shiny-faced slobs. To each his or her own!

  • dizzle

    i work at a coffee shop so i'm always covered in coffee and lifting shit like crates of milk. my dress code is a teeshirt and jeans and all the customers can tell when my laundry hasn't been done because then i might come in in a dress, skirt or something mildy cute and awesome. i make sure to cut my hair while drunk and wear lots of jewelry to keep them on their toes though. sometimes i miss working in clothing retail, not the actual clothing retail part itself but waking up every day to find the cutest/craziest outfits i could put together and changing my shoes three times in a shift and that being totally normal.

  • bella

    i work as a waitress (i study also - so it's pretty much the best of both worlds) and we are allowed to wear almost anything as long as it's black. that includes leather shorts!

  • anouck

    Management consultant at multi-national firm. Formal business attire at all times. Salon blow-dried hair each morning (my natural curls were deemed "unprofessional"); subtle but obviously made-up "no-makeup makeup"; heels are mandatory (even pregnant women are encouraged not to wear flats); generous wardrobe allowance - so lots of Celine, Oscar, Hermes. Extremely fashion conscious office environment - my non-Loubi days are considered "low key". Way too high maintenance. I wonder how I get through the year, to be honest...

    • Mina

      I want to work here!

    • DeneuvesGhost

      Wardrobe allowance??!

    • magpie

      Well, I would LOVE to know where this is and hope to keep an ear to the ground... You probably won't or can't say, but it sounds like stylish buttoned-up heaven to me! Well, except for the blowdrying. Natural curls are gorgeous; it's a shame you have to go straight.
      I'm in big law, and alas Louboutin every day would draw a fair amount of--not uniformly positive--attention.

  • LucN

    I work in finance and eventhough no one directly told me, I know that open toe shoes are a no no, no blazer is a no no, any dress/skirt that's two inches above your knees is a no no, too much or too little makeup is a no no... and the list continues. Fortunately, I am one of 7 girls on a floor of 150+ people so I think we have more wiggle room.

  • Cassie Piasecki

    That picture of Cindy Crawford....I still remember that. Damn!


  • Dere

    It is a shame that they even HAD to put out that memo. Some industries call for and accept a more relaxed attitude. But overall I think society has dropped the ball on looking groomed and put together.

  • Guest

    I own my own business (photo studio.) The dress code is what I say it is, which is to say non existent, except for the following: no shorts, no bare feet, no perfume (I have allergies) and no bizarre face piercings. That's it.

  • Guest

    Indeed. And they almost NEVER know what to do with brown skin. Still.

    I once had to appear on TV and I let the in-house makeup artist have her way with me. I barely had enough time to wipe off he whore-tastic mess she made before I had to go on air. Never. Again.

  • Kattttt

    I don't know if this is worldwide, but in Denmark most professional kitchens allow cooks and other people working with food to keep on their wedding rings. I just hope they all have old fashioned, stone- and filigree less gold bands. That they dip in peroxide.

  • Sarah Moran

    I have a dress code, as a barista at Starbucks. So when I'm not working I tend to go all out :)

  • hollygoeslightly22

    I work in government and I'm one of the youngest people in my office (I'm 29) and everyone dresses pretty...boring. It's very conservative here and I live for casual Fridays.

    I miss the days when I worked in Macy's corporate office and creative dressing was encouraged. It was especially encouraged with discounts and sample sales.

  • Katie R

    I work as wardrobe stylist on commercials, so I'm constantly trying to find the balance between being comfortable running around for 12 hours and being "stylish," since that what I figure they're paying me for. When I'm prepping that usually means skinny jeans and a cute top with a casual blazer, or a comfortable dress, I'm pretty obsessed with shirt dresses. Pockets are a must! Shoes that are cute but comfortable are a huge challenge, but leather oxfords like Dieppa Restrepos are my go-to. Shoot days can go from 5am till 7pm and 50 degrees to 90 degrees, so it's all about layering. My "uniform" is skinny jeans, some combination of linen tank top, Acne or Black Crane t-shirt, chambray button-up, and cardigan, topped off with my Vince wool coat with leather sleeves that makes me feel very "cool," a beanie, and flat boots or my CDG converse.

  • Uschi

    Ugh, work. I work at a natural foods market (or Co-op) which is great because I don't have to wear makeup! I don't even have to shave my legs!

  • Caro

    i'm currently intern at l'Oréal cosmetics and while they do not give any precision on the dress codes; men are still always in suits and girls can wear pretty much anything; except that you still need to be presentable (which i figured meant no shorts or summer clothes or being too casual) while not being too classy either because it's frown upon...guess they're really taking into the "effortless chic" french girls around here seem to have going on!

  • caitlin

    i am of the belief that when you are working, you do want to present the best version of yourself to the world! i am an aesthetician by trade and we don't have a uniform or "dress code" but it is understood that we need to look professional but also approachable. makeup and perfect skin is kind of a must do..who would trust an aesthetician with acne and a make-up free face? that may sound unfair to some, but i think you need to know what you sign up for when you choose your profession.


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