Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
The workplace dress code debates continue.
Over the weekend, a local news channel made national headlines for asking one of its female meteorologists to put on a sweater over her little black dress — live on camera.
Liberté Chan of KTLA 5 in Los Angeles was delivering the local forecast when someone standing off-camera dangled a sweater into her shot. "What's going on?" she asked confused. "You want me to put this on?
Yup, apparently viewers wanted her to cover up. "We're getting a lot of emails," said the male voice off-camera.
"What, really?" Chan asked incredulously, while putting the beige sweater on top of her beaded Aidan Mattox dress. "I look like a librarian now..."
Said the male voice on set, "That works!"
They weren't wrong — the emails were indeed rolling in. In a Facebook Live video right after the broadcast, Chan and her coworkers read some of the emails aloud. Viewers called her dress "totally inappropriate," saying that she looked "like she didn't make it home from her cocktail party last night."
Another comment, that Chan seemed to take particular issue with: "The show's producers should not have allowed her to do [the broadcast] in a cocktail dress."
Chan can be heard on camera saying, "It's a dress, people!"
Needless to say, just as many viewers found Chan's dress problematic, even more found the network's decision to give Chan a sweater problematic.
The ONLY reason to make the KTLA meteorologist put the sweater on live was to embarrass her. She's gotta forecast death as a clap back.— Jas Waters (@JasFly) May 15, 2016
The incident is just one of several viral news stories about women's clothing being "policed" by strict dress codes, both in workplaces and in schools. In 2015, a JCPenney employee named Sylva Stoel rallied internet support after she was sent home from work for wearing "revealing" shorts — that she purchased in JCPenney's career department.
"I think the most detrimental thing about dress codes that specifically target women is that they are often defending the idea that women must dress in a way that doesn't provoke or distract men," Stoel told Mic at the time.
That unfair targeting of women's clothing has also played out at schools, where female high schoolers are calling out their dress codes for body-shaming and slut-shaming them.
For what it's worth, Chan of KTLA 5 doesn't seem too upset about the sweater incident.
"For the record, I was not ordered by KTLA to put on the sweater," she wrote in a blog post. "I was simply playing along with my co-anchor’s joke, and if you’ve ever watched the morning show, you know we poke fun at each other all the time."
But we bet this isn't the last time she wears the little black dress. After all, it seems so fun to wear...