Code Blue: TV Reporter Jason Knowles Ditches Dark Suits in Favor of a Technicolor Wardrobe
AS A REPORTER FOR ABC 7 NEWS, Jason Knowles has a strict dress code. “The traditional attire is a dark suit, a light shirt and a tie that pops but isn’t too crazy,” says Knowles. “You want to stay relevant and connected to the younger audience, but you don’t want to offend older viewers.” Audience demographics aside, there’s one cardinal rule in the newsroom: “Don’t distract from the story.”
Like many other Chicago men who must tuck their style away to conform to industry dress codes, sartorial restraint is a tall order for Knowles. A dapper gent who digs color and patterns and dons Hugo Boss and Theory in his off-hours, Knowles feels he’s played it too safe in his work wardrobe. “I’ve always liked fashion, but I’m just realizing how important it is. It’s your statement to the world; it’s who you are.”
Looking to infuse his highly visible professional threads with a bit more personality, Knowles enlisted the help of renowned stylist Eric Himel. A staple on the Chicago fashion scene, Himel is well aware of the men’s office attire gray area, where a suit and tie is too stuffy, but jeans and a tee are unacceptable.
Himel began the “man-over” at square one, giving Knowles his signature closet purge. After weeding out the fashion misfits, Himel brought Knowles to Maxine (712 N. Rush St.) for a sophisticated haircut. Then the duo hit up the Saks Fifth Avenue men’s store (717 N. Michigan Ave.), where Himel selected two looks for Knowles: A classic suit and a business casual ensemble. “When you want to distinguish yourself while still being professional, it’s all about the subtleties,” says Himel. Little details such as a pocket square, a scarf, a subtle stripe and a classic watch—all paired with expertly fitted attire—can quickly and affordably take any look to a new level.
The result? “Jason looked amazing,” says Himel. Knowles was equally pleased, noting that Himel pushed the limit, selecting items that initially seemed too wild for work but looked clean and sophisticated when Knowles tried them on.
So, how will this affect him in front of the camera? “I felt like I was a different person,” he says of the man-over. “If I can put some of what I learned into my wardrobe, it will improve my confidence on air.”
ERIC HIMEL’S TOP FIVE TIPS FOR AMPING UP YOUR WORK WARDROBE WHILE REMAINING BUSINESS-APPROPRIATE
1. Don’t be afraid of bright colors. Bring out color in your tie, shirt pattern or pocket square, but make sure you do it in a sophisticated way.
2. The pocket square. It’s such an easy way to bring a little zing to your ensemble and set yourself apart.
3. Ditch the messenger bag or the worn, soft leather briefcase. Invest in a structured leather briefcase or even a hard-sided one.
4. Grow up. Ties shouldn’t represent sports affi liations, humor, abstract art or small repetitive animals.
5. Sick of plain ol’ black or brown shoes? Try cordovan, a rich shade of burgundy with almost-black undertones, which goes with every color.