Rachael Ray's Cooking Uniform

The New York Times is doing some hard hitting journalism in its Dining section (free registration required). Elaine Louie wrote a piece called "Frump-Free Cooking: The Look That Sizzles." In the piece, Louie takes a look at the new uniform for female celebrity chefs like Cat Cora, Sandra Lee, Giada De Laurentiis, Nigella Lawson and Rachael Ray. So what is the new uniform? A form-fitting sweater that's "sort of tight, sort of low-cut, definitely sexy."

Louie sums it up with way: "They have thrown away their chef’s outfits, aprons, and other costumes meant to convey authority, and adopted a slightly provocative look instead. It’s warm and retro, a bit Marilyn Monroe." She credits Nigella Lawson with starting the trend in 2000 with her show Nigella Bites.

Next thing you know, Giada De Laurentiis, Rachael Ray, Cat Cora and Sandra Lee are wearing it, too. Cat Cora even talked about her shirts, which she has in yellow, green, red, blue and white, from Anne Klein or J. Crew:

“Before, I started out in chef’s whites,” said Ms. Cora, 40. Then she wore shirts with collars, like Martha Stewart, which she said were bulky and too tailored. In 2000, she switched to the V-neck shirt with three-quarter-length sleeves in cotton and Lycra. (Occasionally, she wears a sleeveless model.) Asked if she changed styles because of Ms. Lawson, she said by e-mail, “No, I have had these shirts for years, I just love the way they fit and V-necks are a good cut for me.”

“It’s lightweight, not too hot, not too cold,” said Ms. Cora. She said she is not averse to showing a hint of cleavage to signal that she’s not a total conservative, but neither is she outré. The look, she said, is “feminine, sophisticated and down-to-earth.” On the Food Network show “Iron Chef America,” she wears chef’s whites, but when she cooks on other television shows, she wears the V-neck shirt.

Sandra Lee also weighed in:

Around 1995, she ventured into what she called “the denim kind of cowboy shirts with the big shoulder pad, the Texas look. You wore tank tops underneath the denim.” In 2002, she segued into snug V-neck shirts in cashmere or stretch cotton.

“They’re easy to move in,” she said. She has 25 V-neck tops, in peach, pale blue, oatmeal, cream, gold, white.

To look fit, Ms. Lee takes no chances. “Snug is the style, and whenever you have a form-fitting top, you have bumps from a bra, or from eating too much of your food,” she said. So, under her V-neck tops, she wears a Sassybax Torso Trim camisole to smooth all the bulges.

I dunno - do you think Rachael really does this look that often? Maybe a few years ago, but her style now is much more funky, with wrap dresses and lots of different silhouettes. In the old days of 30 Minute Meals though, I would definitely agree that a tight top was her uniform. I don't hear anyone complaining about it.


  1. Right on about it being a slow news day for the NY Times... But honestly Where are people actually seeing Cat Cora in anything other than her Iron Chef coat?

  2. Please! After hearing all about her own foundation wear on RR's yapfest, I know more than I want to. (I'm so happy not to be of the feminine persuasion...so many rules, mostly of fashion.)


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