When journalist Joy Reid made her on-camera network debut in 2010, she didn’t realize that her wardrobe was in need of a revamp.
“When I first started as a contributor for MSNBC I was dressing casually,” explains the “AM Joy” host from her 30 Rockefeller Plaza office in New York. “My concept of dressing for TV meant putting on a blazer.”
When Reid eventually launched her first show “The Reid Report” in 2014, NBC executives offered her help from stylist Mario Martinez, who gave the Harvard alum a style makeover. “I used to wear a lot of black, but the big change he helped me make is that I can wear color,” she explains. “That was a big discovery. Now I love to wear a lot of color and it doesn’t have to be about just a blazer. I can dress up in a cool, interesting, feminine way.”
Here, she tells WWD about her ongoing style evolution:
WWD: What lessons from Mario Martinez did you take and you continue to employ in you own wardrobe?
Joy Reid: Some of his best tips were to find something interesting in the neckline. If you have something that has some cutouts and is something unique, you can do that in lieu of dressing up a plain top with jewelry. Now when I shop I look for an interesting pattern in a dress or blouse.
WWD: What’s been a catalyst for a change in the dress code of the news industry?
J.R.: Michelle Obama took the sleeves off of women. It used to be that not only women in politics — first ladies — but also anchors never bore their arms. You always wore sleeves and you almost always wore a blazer. Once Michelle went sleeveless, we all went sleeveless.
WWD: Do you have anybody else in your life who influences your style?
J.R.: In the short hair trend Tamron Hall is an influence on a lot of black women who are in this business. She and Gwen Ifill are both women with short haircuts. It showed us that we don’t have to have “anchor hair” — we don’t have to have hair down to the shoulders and cut with a certain flip. Women who are in the news industry are going short or going very long, which you used to not be able to do.
WWD: You’re very active on social media. Do you have a lot of experience with feedback from fans?
J.R.: My “Tweeps” are wonderful and they’re very interactive. They’ll let me know if they love or don’t love what I have on. I feel a certain responsibility as a black woman doing this job to represent the people who look like me and young girls who are going to look like me when they get older. I want to always look my best and to present a certain style that’s professional but also a little fun.
WWD: Do you follow trends or adhere more to your own personal style?
J.R.: [I follow] certain trends because that’s what is actually in stores. One thing that happens when you work in 30 Rock is there is a certain set of stores around the office and all the anchors have [those brands] on. Part of the game is not showing up in the same clothing as somebody else.
WWD: Has that ever happened?
J.R.: Oh yes it has. I bought a purple dress on the sale rack [of a nearby store] and it was the last one in my size. Two days later [MSNBC anchor] Alex Witt had it on.
WWD: If given the choice would you dress more casually or more formally at work?
J.R.: I used to be a very casual dresser, but now I don’t think casual is so great for TV. Even though it’s news, it’s still TV. This is fun and we’re getting fabulous hair and makeup so I figure why not dress up? I’m doing a show on Sunday so after church all of the saints want to see me looking good.
WWD: Do you spend more money on clothes for work or for play?
J.R.: For work definitely. You can wear the same things over and over. You don’t want to just wear things one time and throw them out, obviously. But also you don’t want to repeat too much so you end up having to buy a lot of clothes.
WWD: Do you repeat outfits on the air?
J.R.: I’ve definitely repeated, but you can try to cheat it. You can throw a cardigan or blazer on it and disguise something you’ve worn before.
WWD: Have you seen among your colleagues who are not on the air a shift in how they are dressing?
J.R.: Clothing has become more eclectic and people don’t think they need to be so structured and corporate. Yes, this is a corporate environment, but people are having more fun with clothes. In general, people are softening the severe corporate look that when I graduated college was standard. You had to have a structured jacket and look a certain way. That is totally not true now. Your personal style can actually be a part of your work look and you can make that style a lot more eclectic and get away with it. You have to have some personality.
Keep up with Reid’s looks on “AM Joy” every Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to noon on MSNBC.