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Dress the Part: HBO's The Newsroom

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by Mark Guiducci, Vogue

In one episode of The Newroom's first season, Maggie and Jim make a field trip to Flounce, a would-be Manhattan boutique where shopgirl Lisa, their roommate and love, respectively, is helping a customer find a dress for the Tony Awards. The News Night duo's utter indifference toward their friend's profession and pending commission on the sale -- save for Jim's incredulity at hearing one Alexander McQueen dress's five-figure price tag ("That's three times what I paid for my car!" he balks )-- underscores the characters' larger presumption that fashion is pretty much a nonissue for serious journalists like themselves.

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And yet, while the women of The Newsroom are exchanging barbs at full-tilt Sorkinian speed, they find style choices to be nonetheless unavoidable (and often useful), as the offices of Atlantis Cable News simultaneously function as journalistic ground zero, corporate jungle gym, and an all-too-intimate dating pool.

We only ever see these women, devoted to their professional lives as they are, in one mode of dress -- business attire -- but each finds a way to make the work uniform her own. Alison Pill's ambitious upstart, Maggie, embellishes her sensible shift with studs or dangling earrings. Pill said that in preparing for the show, she "had a very specific sense that Maggie wouldn't wear too many pants (or heels, for the matter), because she's from the Midwest. By the end of the second season, though, she has spent some more time in New York and you'll see her in leather ankle boots and black skinny jeans." Olivia Munn's multilingual Sloan looks to modern takes on the pantsuit for her recurring on-camera economic reports. The minimal pencil skirt-and-Equipment blouse combination is de rigueur for Emily Mortimer's executive producer, MacKenzie, though she accessorizes perfectly with gold pendant necklaces and a black plastic headset. Up in the executive offices, layered loops of pearls undeniably do for Jane Fonda's sniping matriarch, Leona, what a Windsor tie would do for a man in her position. The four women, who each embody a different age and rung, all interpret office chic in a way that allows them to be honorably married to their jobs and still date their co-workers on the side.

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As The Newsroom's second season gets under way, viewers will get reacquainted with News Nights' tribulations right where they left off: What did Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) actually tell MacKenzie in the wiretapped voicemail? Will Sloan/Don/Maggie/Jim's quadrangle untangle itself? And does anyone else suspect that Leona and her tweedy foil Sam Waterston's Charlie Skinner are harboring some ancient history? One question that the HBO series has long decided for itself, however, is whether its characters can be both serious and well dressed. Lest we forget, even the gruffest of News Night's journalists, Will McAvoy himself, gets his hair and makeup done every night.

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