This weekend, Times Style writer Guy Trebay accurately observed that the CNN reporter's default uniform in Haiti was a snug-fitting muscle shirt. This, Trebay concluded, was a sign that journalists were basically becoming slobs. But how to explain Don Lemon?
Viewers who watched CNN's earthquake coverage this last week were bound to be struck by correspondents who looked a lot less like the usual disheveled examples of those in the profession than like bendable action figures. You could call it the Anderson Cooper effect. Mr. Cooper has rarely missed an opportunity to showcase his buff physique (as anyone would know if he or she remembers his stripping to a bathing suit to quiz Michael Phelps).
Forget the hilarious-in-a-sad-way fact that the New York Times figured out a Styles angle to the Haiti story. ("What if we focus on the survivors? The torn shirts, the dusty sandals, MRE in one hand, Trac phone in the other. The rise of 'Disaster Chic?'") The premise of the article—that a loosening of the 'Sartorial cliches of the trade' leads inevitably to a bunch of chest-bumping, musclebound G.I. Journalists—is false. CNN Newsroom anchor Don Lemon upends those cliches nightly and looks damn good doing it. Come, let us delve into the delightful looks of Don Lemon, CNN's resident dandy.
Classic Don Lemon here. The open shirt, no tie/suit jacket combo probably best embodies Lemon's style, which generally conforms to CNN's middle-of-the-roadness in all but a few key details. The tension between the network's institutional stodginess and Don's personal flair gives many of his ensembles the feel of a teen who rebels against his image-obsessed parents by paradoxically caring more about how he looks than they do.
Case-in-point: Lemon's glasses. When reading a document or viewer tweets, Don whips out a pair of hip chunky black frames and morphs into a bookish blipster. But as soon as he's done reading, the glasses come off and Lemon turns back into a mild manner CNN news anchor. It's like the opposite of the Superman/Kent Clark thing. And check out the skinny tie! $20 says Lemon is a Mad Men fan.
Lemon has got to be the only CNN anchor outside of Larry King who can pull off not wearing a jacket in the Newsroom. But where King's jacketlessness only underscores his unhinged incompetence, Lemon comes off looking like he just stepped off a private yacht where he was partying to down-tempo electronica with a tastefully eclectic group of artist and musician friends.
Here, Lemon rocks the classic "Wolf Blitzer"—conservative suit, bright red tie. Let's see Wolf try to sport Lemon's inauguration outfit.
Compare Lemon's fresh look with his fellow CNN Newsroom anchor Tony Harris' used car-salesman suit and mustard (!) tie. It's the difference between a Walkman and a 3rd Generation iPhone.
Don Lemon gets casual in the field while avoiding the "Anderson Cooper effect".
This is not to say Lemon isn't immune from the occasional fashion slip-up. He was a little too eager to relate with the common man or something during this report on a FedEx delivery guy, and ended up about a beer bong away from fraternity vice-president. Also: Man boobs?