It is with deep shame and sorrow that I admit my sordid secret. I no longer can make the slightest claim to being a professional journalist.
When I tell my editor and publisher that terrible truth, I feel certain that they will try to reassure me. What about my masters degree from the Columbia School of Journalism, they will say, followed by more than 10 years of experience as a real estate editor in this area and four Virginia Press Association writing awards?
But these are all mere trifles. The shameful fact is, I no longer have a red blazer. And as everyone who watches television news knows, professional newswomen wear red blazers.
A week-long survey left me feeling even more inadequate. Red blazers did, indeed, rule the airwaves. Some might have been dresses that were cut like blazers. It was hard to tell when the wearers were seated behind their desks, but they sure looked like blazers to me. The trademark attire was sported by Robin Meade and Christi Paul at CNN, Alex Witt at MSNBC, and Gretchen Carlson and Megyn Kelly at Fox News. On the local front, Kimberley Suiters at NBC4 showed the same style. So did Heather Tesch at The Weather Channel, and since she was standing up in front of a weather map, I could tell for sure that this one was a blazer. As if any other evidence were needed, it was provided by Eleanor Clift on the McLaughlin Group.
Legend has it that the first female journalists donned red blazers for press conferences in order to help them stand out in a crowd of reporters shouting questions. You in the red! the celebrity would presumably shout. For whatever reason, they are now as standard as white for brides and navy for the, well, the Navy.
I did, indeed, own a red blazer in years pasttwo of them, in fact. There was wool for winter and linen for spring. But, alas, I failed to notice that fashions were changing as dramatically as the seasons themselves. Those big shoulder pads were fast becoming as obsolete as the manual typewriter.
This finally became glaringly clear the first time I donned the wool garment this fall, and I immediately did my best to replace both outdated jackets. Since Sears and JC Penney were the best bet for moderately priced classic fashions, I scoured them both with no luck. I then turned my attention to the Chadwicks, Lands End and L.L. Bean catalogs. Here in the capital region, after all, fashions are so conservative that L.L. Bean is haute couture, which is probably why they have a shop at Tysons Corner Center. You would think that they would appreciate and accommodate our needs. No such luck.
Finally, in sheer desperation, I tried cutting out the Dynasty-esque shoulder pads. The garments looked even worse, as though I had, well, cut out the shoulder pads, leaving the shoulders sagging dismally.
So there I was, facing meetings with realtors, mortgage brokers and other assorted professionals. My only consolation was that realtors tend to be tactful and kind. So if they were barely holding back their laughter at the sight of my trendy brown corduroy jacket or truly timeless blue wool version, I pretended not to notice.