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Dressing for television news

September 10, 2008

Women who read out English news mostly dress in western clothes and women who read out news in Hindi or Marathi usually wear Indian clothes, either a sari or a salwar kameez. There are exceptions ofcourse, but English news readers do dress in western clothes more often than the Indian language counterparts. Probably because they think that their audience dresses that way? I find it a little amusing…

Here are some screen shots I took.
The first collage shows women reading out news in Indian Languages. The top left hand has a lady on IBN Lokmat (Marathi), top right hand corner, a lady on Sahara Samay (Hindi), bottom left hand corner, lady on a Cable news channels (Marathi) and bottom right hand corner, a lady discussing the Big Bang experiment on IBN7 (Hindi).

Women on Indian Language News Channels

Women on Indian Language News Channels

These are the women who anchor the English news programmes. Most of them wear western clothes, at least on the channels I picked. I did find one wearing a salwar kameez though.

Women on English News Channels

Women on English News Channels

The men who anchor the English news are usually in western formals, unless the programme calls for a more informal way of dressing.

Men on English News Channels

Men on English News Channels

But men on the Indian language news channels wear western formals as well, not Indian clothes. I wonder why they don’t try wearing Indian clothes? I think it will look good. They are imitating real life I guess…in metros you don’t usually find Indian men in Indian clothes. Certainly not in offices.

Men on Indian Language Channels

Men on Indian Language News Channels

I am not a fashion person, but even to my layman eyes the styling of the clothes worn by news anchors leaves much to be desired. Some anchors dress well, but here are some outfits which I found rather gross. The woman on the top left hand corner (she was reading for a cable tv channel) is clearly wearing a man’s jacket. The man in the top right hand corner has a jacket that is a trifle short and his shirt collar is over his jacket. Also, both his blazer and trousers are blue…unless it is a suit this is not done. As far as I could see, there was a shade difference in the colour of his suit and trouser…which means he was not wearing a suit. The woman on the bottom left hand corner looks uncomfortable in that western outfit,  and I fear that she has been forced to wear it! Her companion is in an ill-fitting suit.  Usually the female anchors in Indian clothes dress quite well, but the churidar kameez worn by the anchor on the bottom right hand corner doesn’t look elegant.        Poorly dressed news anchors

One thing I was thankful about was that these women did not look like clones of each other. I have noticed that this clone culture has started on some channels…girls with identical figures wearing identical suits and with identical haircuts. I have a tough time distinguishing between them.

Related Reading: What a man should wear to get that elegant, stylish look
Does it matter what an air hostess wears?
Is the saree an immodest garment?
All posts on the Media.
All posts on Fashion and Clothing

40 Comments leave one →
  1. September 10, 2008 10:04 pm

    I guess Western formals for anchors are okay. May be its their dress code. Like in my previous company we had western dress code including tie. Okay in the office, but pretty uncomfortable when we walk out on of the office into the hot and humid climate.

    For news anchors I guess it should be something that is pleasing for the viewers, like you mentioned, if she is not comfortable with the dress, she shouldnt have worn it in the first place… that is indeed awkward.
    Also our news channel are the exact copy of US news channels.. they copy the graphics, the presentation style… and the fashion they follow 🙂

    It does seem to be their dress code, but I feel a tie is not suited to Indian weather…ofcourse their offices will be airconditioned, but still… and I am not for a dress code to offices. I don’t like that concept. I think just saying “formal” or “informal” should be okay. And its true, we tend to copy the foreign news channels, or try to – nita.

  2. September 10, 2008 10:07 pm

    Jyotika Grover, from DD news channel has got perfect Indian looks, and she dresses simple, minimum makeup, and I like her. Infact I watched DD News only for her. 😉

    I don’t know Jyotika but I guess she must be doing something right! 🙂 – nita.

  3. September 10, 2008 10:12 pm

    Great blog. I found you through Maria Cristina Poesia and so glad I did. I just returned from a month in India, and your point of view is so meaningful to me. Thanks, I’ll be back.

    Hullo Deborah, and thanks. I have seen your comments on G and Christine’s blog. Welcome here! – nita.

  4. September 10, 2008 10:40 pm

    Hi,Came here through IHM’s blog.. 🙂

    In kerala,where there are many news channels,many/most ladies wear sarees..In fact I switch on to her news,only to see ther different styles of saree presentation each day…lol…

    Are these channels in Malayalam or English? – nita.

  5. September 10, 2008 11:20 pm

    Personally I like them in western formals. They are there to read news! News is a serious business. I do not really care if they wear if someone wears Indian clothes though, but perhaps an Achkan type thing. I do wish our politicians will wear suits though some of them come dressed to the parliament in their night suits. They do not take their jobs seriously at all. May be a change of attire would give them a bit of credibility. 🙂

    I like the Indian mode of dress, although I agree it doesn’t suit everybody. Finally all should wear what they are comfortable with. I just find this any dress code odd. Whether its an entry into a club or an office, why should Indian formals be discouraged? I am sure the newsreaders are told to wear western formals for news reading in English. And about the politicians…I think they should have a makeover! 🙂 – nita,

  6. September 11, 2008 12:00 am

    Yes I have noticed this interesting phenomena too. English and Western clothing go together for women, for men even in rural areas and ‘krishi darshan’ trousers and shirt was fine!
    It’s just like in Hindi movies the heroine starts wearing Indian clothing the moment she becomes a ‘good girl’ 🙂

    Men are not the upholders of Indian culture! 🙂 – Nita.

  7. September 11, 2008 12:45 am

    Nita, do you remember, there was a news reader on doordarshan by the name Salma Sultan? She used to wear beautiful sarees and wore a ‘gajra’ of white flowers in her hair. Recently I saw her on TV with her trademark ‘gajra’.
    About men not wearing traditional clothes- on festivals and national holidays I have observed men wearing ‘kurtas’ even on English news channels. Rajdeep Sardesai was wearing a ‘kurta’ on Independence day.

    I remember Salma clearly, I mean in those days we just had DD and nothing else to watch! 🙂 I also remember Smita Patil who was a news reader once and used to read news in marathi and I remember her clearly although I was in school then.
    True, about those people you mentioned. On festive occasions many of them dress “Indian.” Overall though Rajdeep has a decent dress sense. – nita.

  8. September 11, 2008 1:40 am

    Maybe the trend towards formal clothes for males/females is to cover their fat ?
    The funny thing is that dd had a sari code for women and the women in bygone era would be much bolder with their saris, while the current bunch of politicians have put a code on how much skin they must show and whatever it is saris are passe and replaced by formal suits and salwars.

    clone culture ? interestg observation – do they have a common suit wardrobe ?
    maybe it is because news has been sexed up so much due to the competition that bimbette model newsreaders are preferred to actual journalists – no wonder the ratio of askg stupid questions to intelligent questions has gone up in recent times.

    Prax, that’s a good point! 🙂 Covering their fat! haha. And you are right about the moral police, who are also in the I&B Ministry. And this clone culture is there on foreign news channels…I guess they call it dressing according to a certain code. I prefer no code! As for the silly questions, OMG. I get so bored, and they ask the same silly question in different words, again! – nita.

  9. September 11, 2008 3:44 am

    Hmmm … It seems to me that the salwar kameez would be more comfortable than the Western attire, is this true ?

    Not for me. I feel most comfortable in pants (not tight) and a shirt or a kurti. – nita

  10. September 11, 2008 8:13 am

    There are glaring exceptions. Barkha Dutt, for example, is almost always in Salwar Kameez; Sagarika Ghose wears mostly sarees these days.

    True, these are the owners or part owners though. Wonder if they apply their code to themselves. – nita.

  11. September 11, 2008 8:28 am

    Our local news channel tried to copy these national newsreaders but now they have comeback to Salwar Kameez. I second Prerna on men wearing Indian dress. They do on occasions like festivals. Why should a news reader wear Indian dress for hosting a astrology program or some other religious program? And that one in western outfit is clearly uncomfortable in her dress as visible from her body language. Have u seen teen deviyan on Star news in mornings? They wear all sort of dresses with plunging necklines.
    Very innovative post.

    Thanks Reema. Actually that is the point I am trying to make…why should a newsreader not wear Indian dress while hosting an astronomy program? 🙂 – nita.

  12. September 11, 2008 9:56 am

    I love the Indian outfits but I would like to play the devil’s advocate here.

    Is it possible that people wear the outfit because
    1) the outfit is more comfortable
    2) the approach to ‘fit in’ with the crowd
    3) there is more supply or should I say more outfits to choose from thanks to the explosion of the internet.

  13. September 11, 2008 9:56 am

    Wow !! .. This is some observation, I must say ..

    But whatever they wear, they do look decent and watchable even though their news are mostly crap and irrelevant ..

  14. hoku permalink
    September 11, 2008 11:03 am

    A case of dress code stereotyping?
    Western dress for ‘serious business’.
    Now I know why street corner “Mom-and-Pop Shops” are failing. They need to change their attire from dhoti, kurta to business suit.
    Nita@ thanks for another thought provoker.

  15. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    September 11, 2008 12:10 pm


    Nice to see some people here who still remember the “bad” old DD monopoly days. The women news presenters, whether in English or Hindi, used to wear sarees, and with much more elegance than any you see now. And all of them, men and women alike, had much better diction (they still do on DD) than the present lot.

    I’m glad you brought up Smita Patil. I never got to see her as a news presenter, but did see some of her films. A fantastic actress, who wore her “star” status lightly. Also from Marathi TV, there is the less well-known case of Ashwini Bhave, and I am sure there must be many more in other languages.

    The whole idea of dress code is quite silly. The top prize for silliness goes to the legal profession, bar and bench alike, who, in our generally hot and humid climate, wear maximally heat absorbent black. I often wonder how the judges can focus on the case they are hearing in such discomfort. No wonder our courts, despite lakhs of pending cases, periodically go on vacation like schools and colleges!

  16. September 11, 2008 12:13 pm

    @ Nita

    I wouldn’t care what they wore as long as they learnt to enunciate clearly and speak in one language at a time not the cacophonous melange (used in at least the Hindi channels).

    It would also be better if they actually understood the issues they were supposedly interviewing people about. The questioning is patronising and the questions ill-conceived and of no consequence. The conclusions are almost always foregone; it is as if nobody cares what the interviewees said, the channel had a position that they had to regurgitate.

    If I keep going on like this, I may well expect them to have 2 brain cells. But that may be too much to ask of auto-cuties. Oops, did I say that aloud?

  17. September 11, 2008 12:18 pm

    @ Nita:

    I think I was typing my comment when Vivek was typing his..

    Salma Sultan was pretty, wore a nice sari and flowers in her hair etc, but never actually opened her mouth to enunciate anything. It was very irritating to hear her read news. Raman was clear and well-spoken I thought, as were Tejeshwar Singh, Rini Simon, Komal GB Singh etc almost all of whom had other jobs in the day. They were not making a career in TV unlike those reading things on autocue these days.

    This was also the era when there was no pressure to do live interviews or streaming videos or catch up with news before Twitter, blogs and texting made it old. I think those oldies might have done well with that too, though.

  18. September 11, 2008 1:23 pm


    You rightly mentioned about the clone culture, it has indeed creeped into various channels. Nita, It’s not just about the western and the traditional outfit that they wear but also their original look, which is modified to an extent that they start looking like artificial dummies.

  19. ulag permalink
    September 11, 2008 1:45 pm

    Interesting topic!!! But i just think what we see is reflective of how people generally dress in today’s corporate world–Women in salwars and Men in western formals. On the other hand, female anchors in formal suits is a blind imitation of CNN. It looks pretty obvious that this choice of attire was imposed on them.

    There was also a issue of dress code for school teachers. Even in my private CBSE school, teachers were supposed to wear only saris and no salwars were allowed until a few years back. Even now they arent allowed to wear western attire. And i think this is the same in most schools because i remember that a few years back a govt school teacher had won a case granting her the right to wear a salwar which was being denied by her school authorities. This is another side of the spectrum where the women were forced to stick to more traditional dress as opposed to western.

  20. September 11, 2008 2:31 pm

    Some people do dress really well.
    You should watch Surya TV News in Malayalam. The men dress in the most horrendous way. Orange Shirt, Red ties!!


  21. September 11, 2008 3:41 pm

    Nita, exellent observaion!
    Interestingly, Indian men even in Europe – they mostly wear (white) shirts while the western men weat t-shirts and pullowers. May be the Indian men think they look more serious with that? 🙂

    Regarding the “clone culture” – I believe it is the worldwide trend, they do the same in Europe and also in Russia. May be because the TV stations want to keep a certain style of their own, like branding? It is like in a brand-shop – the personality of the seller does not matter, he/she just wears uniform.

  22. September 11, 2008 4:28 pm

    Well India is also catching up wt the clone culture,
    and i agree with axinia abt indian men being too uptight in dressing
    sad saris have been substituted by suits

    on western culture have u read about naked news ? that is indeed an interesting concept of making people see news ….. 😉

    But the good thing i think is still in regional language news saris are preferred and infact people have a cult following of newsreaders as there are forums like discuss tv etc

  23. September 11, 2008 4:29 pm

    Lol,interesting post 😛 Yup maybe we should encourage men to wear Kurta or something… 🙂

  24. September 11, 2008 8:12 pm

    Interesting thought-provoking post. I do think there is a western-inclined thinking here in that “serious stuff on TV” should be matched with “formal wear” and that western formal wear projects (or makes one perceive) the most apt setting.

    Of course from my perspective, here in west, a formal attire does mean “no-nonsense, serious business” (which although in itself led to turn-off in the hi-tech world).

    Perhaps, it could also be that TV, just like most hi-tech stuff came to India after it was well ingrained in the west. Hence Indian TV is always trying to “mimic” the west. In other words, if news in the west must be delivered in formal wear with dead-pan voices (as it was 25 years ago), here it must the same (and it was and is still to some extent). And with the implications of English/English-speak in our society, it meant western formal wear – certainly for men. Although I do think at least in the early Indian TV days, for women, an Indian attire (e.g. saree) met this need. But I do not remember seeing a guy with a turban, a jibba and a formal dhoti, reading my Tamil news 🙂

    Nowadays, I think in the western world, news is “less formal” as in no dead-pan voices, more people with a dash of informal banter – but the dress is still “formal” (they dont show up in jeans and T-shirt). This “casual formal” could be an American influence, which then went to Europe (?). In India, perhaps there is again a need to “mimic the west”, now, in particular America, and thus perhaps the women attire is going towards western formal which perhaps has a perception of being “chique” to make it in line with the “like how it is in US” look?

    Not sure if that all made sense. Even if it didn’t, it simply proves that yet again you have come up with a post that provides ample food for thought :)!


  25. September 11, 2008 8:13 pm

    yikes! Now that I see it posted – that was a super long comment. Man! Do i tend to ramble! Sorry!


  26. September 11, 2008 8:25 pm

    I dont have any problems if they wear western clothes as long as it covers their body.. i think we should be greatfull of that fact 🙂 ..
    and more importantly if they are providing some usefull news ..i feel most of the news channels in hindi (dont know much about other redional language )dont provide just news..
    they have various shows just for increasing the view count..shows are which are lame and silly..
    ofcourse good news channels are there but very few

  27. September 11, 2008 11:03 pm

    Nandu, I am not sure of the reasons, but I tend to think there is a dress code. Otherwise one doesn’t see women dress in western suits in offices.

    Soham, good to hear that people find them pleasant to look at!

    Hoku, 🙂

    Vivek, the women did look beautiful in sarees didn’t they! They carried off the saris better too, being used to them. I also agree that imitating the west when it comes to formal dressing is stupid. It is some sort of inferiority complex I think.

    Shefaly, true, one could forgive all if they had good diction and were competent.
    I don’t remember all those names you mentioned. But as you said, journalism was in a way simpler then, at least tv journalism. And DD had no competition either. But in any case that was a different era, people sort of stuck to one job and often gave it all they had…

    Priyanka, you said it, artificial dummies! That’s exactly what they seem like quite often. I wish they would just be themselves!

    Ulag, your observation is absolutely correct! The way they dress on tv, in formal western suits, is very unlike the dress code for women in corporations in India. That is why it looks so artificial.

    Nikhil, I don’t know why but I find very few people have dress sense!

    That’s interesting Axinia, I didn’t know that about Indian men in western countries. In India men usually wear light colours, and in fact often wear white. A while back I did a post on this – here. And true what you said about the “uniform.” Just feels odd!

    Prax, I had heard of this cult following…amazing that the tv news presenters have also become “stars.” I don’t know whether this is the case abroad.

    for that we will have to start another tv channel! 🙂

    Arunk, thanks for your thoughts! We are mimicking the west, for the very reason you mentioned. The fact that this tv news culture is already ingrained out there…but even in offices you rarely see men in Indian clothes. It’s just not accepted and I think its a hangover or a complex we have from the British days. However in Indian language serials you do see men in traditional Indian wear, although a lot of western wear too, more of the latter. Women in India in offices or otherwise are encouraged to wear Indian clothes, except on tv channels! And yours wasn’t a ramble at all…always the comments provide me for a lot of food for thought!

    Arvind, tv news like print news, has lost its lustre!

  28. Diya permalink
    September 11, 2008 11:28 pm

    a Ms Tinku Jain reads news in DD style with beautiful sarees for the news after the indian programmes are over. for all that you may know, she might be coming to the TV station in a trouser and going home in a trouser. Nobody can get closer to a robot as her. on other channels like fox, msnbc – the women are loosening up … a little clevage here and there are shown sometimes… it has been a rather new trend..may be very soon the channels in india will follow..

  29. September 12, 2008 12:58 am

    Enjoyed your post..
    though i do watch the fashion displayed by news readers, never gave such a depth study on them..!!


  30. September 12, 2008 7:13 am

    This is all too confusing for me. As long as Women readers don’t come in Nighties and Men readers don’t come in Banian and Lungi, I am fine with it. Heck, they can even mask the body with the background and just show a floating head that reads out the news, that will do 🙂 You are giving way too much room for Rambodoc to try some link love humor in his blog.

  31. September 12, 2008 7:24 am

    I’m not known for my own personal fashion sense, but I’m always ready to critique TV news anchors! The women wearing traditional Indian clothes look well-groomed, like they feel at home in their clothes. The ones in Western outfits look uncomfortable.

    Some of your observations really made me laugh, like the woman wearing a man’s jacket, or looking as though she was forced to wear the clothes.

    The man without a tie looks silly. You’re right, if you’re going to wear a formal suit, you have to do it write, otherwise you look foolish.

    I’d like to know why Indian professional men don’t tend to wear traditional Indian clothes. I’d be interested in reading your take on that question.

  32. September 12, 2008 1:37 pm

    A very interesting post Nita!
    I really feel sometimes that news readers should dress elegantly and look dignified, and western dress doesn’t make them more distinguished or reliable! The should also enunciate properly and use better Hindi on the Hindi channels. Sometimes they even gesture wildly in front of the camera, like there is one guy on TimesNow who shakes his pen at us :), which I find very distasteful even if they are well-dressed.
    Some DD1 male news readers used to wear achkan I remember? Was it Ved Prakash?

  33. September 12, 2008 1:58 pm

    Even though I don’t understand your message in this post, I would like to share my opinion. I think men and women in all kinds of news anchor shows should wear something elegant. Somehow, the western outfits do seem to suit more than most Indian outfits, the saree being the exception. Sarees look elegant any day. But some people who wear sarees tend to not be in ‘total’ shape and hence, the saree looks rather inelegant.

    I am from Kerala myself, and in all Keralaite news channels (in Malayalam) its always the Saree.

    Another point is that it also depends on the person. Some people look good in anything. So, it’s part of the personality and elegance as well.

    Did all this make sense?

  34. raghav permalink
    September 12, 2008 2:49 pm

    Saree for me sometimes looks too heavy on news presenters. But if anybody wants to wear i got no issues. The main thing is that presenters should be comfortable with their clothing. Ething wud be ok until their dress causes some prob. for bjp, Shiva Sena, congress or VHP. But even then i wudn care. Anyways i was listening to some Pak news presenter n she said tht they got couple of issues there.

  35. September 12, 2008 2:51 pm

    Diya, Vinz, thanks for your observations.

    Dinesh Babu, soon you will be providing competition to Rambodoc! 🙂

    Christine, for men at least wearing western clothes has got a “superior” tag, and in fact just today there was this news item where a social organisation in Mumbai has issued a “diktat” to its members not to wear lungis and venture out saying it shows them in poor light! This is what it says:

    Members of Veer Abdul Hamid, who are from Uttar Pradesh, have even gone to the extent of tearing off the lungis of those who refuse to follow the diktat issued 10 days ago.

    Ofcourse a lungi is casual wear, but these people are referring to casual occasions, not formal ones. Indian clothes if worn the way they are meant to can be very comfortable and are suited for Indian weather. But men could find it infradig. Frankly only a man can answer as to why he chooses a trouser over a lungi or a dhoti (not referring to office compulsions).
    However women in India generally are expected to wear Indian clothes, particularly for formal occasions. Even for casual occasions, most Indian women wear Indian clothes.Women are the upholders of “culture” in Indian society you see. We don’t have gender equality here.
    Nomad, I agree. Whether someone looks elegant or not is individual and doesn’t depend on whether he wears western clothes or Indian clothes.
    Kris, no message in this post, just some observations! And what you said makes perfect sense! It depends on the individual, not that tv channels are giving much choice to the presenters! I guess its like participating in a film, the director choose your dress! The reporters who are out there on the streets interviewing people seem to be dressed the way they want to though.

  36. September 15, 2008 10:56 pm


    How fascinating to explore your snapshot of Indian television dress styles (or lack thereof). Here in the States, our anchors, reporters, sportscasters, and weatherpersons also have a blend of on-air fashions — not as varied as yours (due in large part to our limited clothing options compared with the variety of possibilities in India) — that are nonetheless notable for their reflection of their local markets.

    As I travel around the country, staying in hotels and watching local television news programs, I can tell where I am — in what region of the United States — by the dress, makeup, and hair styles of the men and women on the news programs. From north to south, east to west, American television personalities, whether in large or small markets, reflect local tastes. An anchor in Boston will not look like an anchor in Tucson … no matter how hard they try to look “the same.” A plunging neckline might work in Los Angeles, but in Omaha, Nebraska, a more conservative suit might be the dress of the day.

    There is a lot of CNN emulation being attempted — but there is also a lot of “local” style that tends toward awkward colors, ill-fitting suits, self-styled hair, and self-applied makeup.

    To catalog the variety of styles seen on U.S. television would require a much longer reply, but suffice it to say that what you experience in India, we experience here, perhaps in a more subtle way as viewed by our international visitors. To us, the differences we see are as plain as the difference between a saree and a churidar kameez would be to your audiences (I hope I got that right).

  37. September 22, 2008 7:26 pm

    Its nice to see these anchors wearing Indian clothes on special occasions such as Ganesh Chaturthi, 15th August, Diwali, etc.

    I find Mini Menon of UTVi (earlier with CNBC,Times Now) to be the best dressed anchor on News channels.

  38. June 21, 2009 2:18 pm


    It’s a good post and keen observation.I feel Men news readers should wear Indian dresses in non-english news channels.
    Its good women news readers are wearing indian dresses.. But i miss seeing a bindi on most of the women.I am not saying it being religious or non religious but i heard NDTV dont allow Bindi.. though Brinda and her sister Radhika keep one Big Bindhi.Hypocrites…Their NDTV emblem itself have one big Bindhi…

  39. April 27, 2011 8:22 am

    I like newsanchors in sarees as it gives them the feminine feeling as ETV is presenting there aanchors in sarees and also Mahuaa News is also presenting t in sarees…. I hope 1 day all the news channel must make it mandatory to wear sarees instaed of the western wear where the anchors look dumb……

  40. SUJIT KUMAR PRADHAN permalink
    February 26, 2012 12:09 pm

    Please include the ENGLISH NEWS ANCHORING in DOORDARSHAN-LOK SABHA CHANNEL at 03:50PM on 25th FEBRUARY 2012, where smartness in the anchoring persists. It must promotes the NEWS BULLETIN on DD NEWS channel.

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