April 28th, 2010
05:17 PM GMT
A few years ago I wrote an article for Vogue magazine about wearing my grandmother’s clothes. These days the fashion magazines call old or second hand clothes ‘vintage.’ Mine are just called ‘granny’s clothes.’
I thought about that story and the history behind many of my clothes recently when I pulled on one of my granny’s jackets, just before going on air to present Marketplace Africa.
I had been planning to wear a neatly cropped, steel gray jacket with an orange necklace but the weather made me change my mind. It was an unusually gray, wet and cloudy day in Johannesburg so the combination of a gray background and a gray jacket made for a dull picture.
So I did what I have done countless times in my 15-year TV career – I went to my office and took my 86-year-old grandmother’s red jacket off a hanger. She gave it to me when I first started as a news journalist in 1995. I worked for the South African Broadcasting Corporation and was so poor that I couldn’t afford to buy a whole new set of ‘smart’ business attire. So granny let me go ‘shopping’ in her wardrobe.
The red jacket remains one of my favorites and it always makes me feel happy and confident when I wear it – how could I not? The wool jacket was bought more than thirty years ago; so it’s a little bit worn, the wool is slightly itchy if I wear it for too long, and the sleeves are a bit short but it is perfect for television. The fire-red color ‘pops’ on screen – which means it really catches your attention.
That is why most of us reporters and presenters have at least one red jacket in our arsenal of on-air clothing. Mine, though, is granny’s. It’s not the only jacket that has a story to it. In my office in the CNN Johannesburg bureau I have quite a large collection of jackets; backup clothes for any on-air eventuality. Many are now a bit too small or tight – after having two babies in three years, I suppose that is understandable. But that doesn’t mean I am going to give them away.
There is the dusty pink jacket I bought in Sicily, Italy while I was presenting CNN’s sailing show a few years ago. It was a total impulse buy because I don’t normally like wearing pink because it’s so, well, PINK. But this jacket is more blush or rose colored rather than bright pink so I tolerate it.
Then there is ‘Hala’s jacket’ which IDesk anchor, Hala Gorani, gave to me years ago when she left London to move to Atlanta. We used to sit next to each other, in the same little cubicle in the CNN London bureau where it seemed like the rail of anchor’s jackets was bigger than the office space. When she cleared out her stash of on-air clothes – I bagged the light blue, boyfriend-cut jacket. I wore it constantly throughout my pregnancy last year.
Of course, I have a rather ridiculous amount of new and stupidly expensive clothes too – but it’s the freebies that I am most fond of.
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