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SCREEN STYLE

Grow Up, Katie

August 27, 1993|BETTY GOODWIN

The Show: "Today," NBC, weekdays from 7 to 9 a.m.

The Setup: Katie Couric and Bryant Gumbel (both pictured) co-host the morning news/chat show that recently passed ABC's "Good Morning America" in the morning ratings sweepstakes.

The Costume Designer: None.

The Look: There's no accounting for the ratings where fashion is concerned. Any advantage gained by the undeniably spiffy Gumbel is lost by the other regulars. Couric's just-out-of-college look has traveled with her, unfortunately, to a new stint on the prime-time news magazine "Now, With Tom Brokaw and Katie Couric." Film critic Gene Shalit's big hair and enormous (verging on floppy) bow ties are almost as distracting as Willard Scott's never-ending parade of fashion curveballs--from baseball caps to sport shirts.

Miss: With her little dangling earrings in perpetual motion, Couric appears stuck in youth mode that's inappropriate for her position. Her trousers, T-shirts and blazers look too frivolous next to her co-hosts' serious suits or jackets and ties. For her introduction on "Now," Couric tried a V-neck blouse under a well-fitting red blazer. But the T-shirt--beneath a vest and worn with a short flaired skirt and sandals--was back for her segment with Bette Midler. (To be fair, Brokaw's two-sizes-too-small safari jacket, worn during another interview, is a tired in-the-trenches look.)

Money Matters: Couric confesses in this month's People magazine that her motto is "Never buy retail unless it's on sale." But, considering that Couric earns almost $2 million a year, perhaps it's time that she invest in grown-up work clothes. As the most-watched of the morning trio--which also includes Paula Zahn ("CBS This Morning") and Joan Lunden ("Good Morning America"), Couric has a responsibility when it comes to sophistication and credibility on the fashion meter.

Hit: Gumbel, from his head (tortoise-shell horn rims) to his toes (low-vamp moccasins and colored socks), is in a different league than his bland-looking competitors, Charlie Gibson (ABC) and Harry Smith (CBS). One caveat: Gumbel's dress occasionally borders on flashy.

Try This at Work: Gumbel pulls off daring combinations of prints and patterns (pin-striped and windowpane-plaid suits, striped shirts and medium-print, statement-making ties) and is never without a precision-peaked pocket square. A look clearly rooted in the '80s "Wall Street" vein, it still works.

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