What BBC newsreaders are never allowed to wear

Peter Thomas/YouTube screengrab

A leaked email from a BBC editor has revealed what clothes presenters are advised to wear (and more importantly not wear) on air.

The email originated with the editor of Inside Out South West, Sam Smith.

Smith made clear in her email that her suggestions were intended to be a starting point, and she encouraged recipients to pitch in with other wardrobe ideas.

The below is my view based on long experiences of getting it wrong and very occasionally right both reporting and presenting...this is a starting point for a conversation so pitch in with your own thoughts. This is a minefield of PC pitfalls.


  • Women newsreaders should have a smart jacket, including 'at least one black for sombre stories'.
  • Ankle length trousers.
  • Smart knee or ankle high boots.
  • Simple make-up
  • Well-fitted suits
  • Block colour clothes

They also recommended women's hair be shoulder length. Sam explained:

I wore mine below shoulder length for years.

It was a nightmare and required a ridiculous level of attention.

Shoulder length and above is easier to cope with

It depends

More casual wear such as jeans, waterproofs, and Wellington boots were deemed acceptable for outside reports.

Trainers were advised against unless it was a story about running.


  • Patterned clothes
  • Jewellery
  • Leather and faux leather
  • PVC
  • Sunglasses
  • Trainers
  • Flip-flops
  • Sandals
  • Chinos
  • Shorts
  • Elaborate make-up
  • Boldly coloured or patterned tights
  • Cardigans

As this is the BBC, clothing with logos were also on the 'never' list.

The email also explained that 'even the very nicest' cardigans from M&S 'in real life look too casual'.

A spokesperson for the BBC told the Mirror:

This informal advice was shared with a small number of staff who appear onscreen about what does and doesn't work on camera or under TV lighting.

HT Mirror

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