KTVU's Julie Haener: Dressing the part and being taken seriously

When KTVU's Julie Haener announced this month that she's stepping away from the anchor desk after 27 years at the station, the response on social media was overwhelmingly positive. 

Viewers posted about what a reliable and dependable, class-act journalist she's been through the years. Haener is going out at the top of her game. 

Beyond her journalistic integrity, longtime KTVU viewers may have wondered over the years, where Haener gets her unique sense of style. 

But before style, you must have substance. 

In this industry, longevity in the newsroom in a top market is no small feat, especially for women who still find themselves being held to double standards of appearance. 

Haener, who once sat beside the great Dennis Richmond at the anchor desk, has done the job gracefully and is considered a consummate professional among her peers and viewers alike. 

Obviously, women in the television newsroom should not be reduced to what they choose to wear, but rather, we should listen to what it is they are saying. 

The reality is that TV news is a visual medium and some anchors choose this as an opportunity to showcase their sense of style. 

You could pick any day from the KTVU aircheck, and chances are, Haener will be wearing something that catches your eye. 

Did anyone catch the super hot-pink, wide-leg pants?

She said when she first started out as a 22-year-old, who had just graduated from college, she knew she wanted to be an anchor and a reporter. 

"I would look at the network morning anchors like Paula Zahn, Jane Pauley, Katie Couric, and Deborah Norville," she said. 

With her sights set on the anchor desk, Haener focused on patterning herself after highly successful, strong women. 

Julie Haener sporting her super hot-pink wide leg pants.

"I would look at the network news anchors versus what the local news anchors were wearing, because they had more style and polish. They were wearing really strong blazers and suiting. I remember big shoulder pads and solid colors," she said. "I'm sure they had stylists and wardrobe consultants." 

She talks about work ethic and paying your dues. "You have to have passion about what you're doing. Hard work pays off. I've had to work holidays, overnights, early morning hours, shifts when people don't want to work," she said. 

She says the job isn't just about looking good. "You want to gain people's trust and respect and have them look to you as like, ‘I can count on her to be fair and balanced.’" 

Julie Haener at the KTVU anchor desk. 

She particularly remembers Diane Sawyer, of ABC News' ‘Good Morning America’ fame. She recalls her as being sophisticated and polished. "She had a timeless, classic look. Strong."

In those early days, especially as a young woman starting out in the industry, she said it was important to be taken seriously.

"You want people to take you seriously. And so you have to dress the part." Consider what you're wearing, she says. 

Her advice is to know your body and know your style. 

Fashion evolves. In the ‘70s, women anchors sported pussy bow blouses. By the ’80s, bold, big shoulders were in. It was the era of the power suit. And perhaps women on TV were taking notice. 

By the time Haener began in the '90s, the Clinton era was in full swing.

NEW YORK - OCTOBER 1: From left, 60 Minutes correspondent Diane Sawyer and Don Hewitt, producer, in a CBS News control room, October 1, 1985. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)

"Looking back now, I would laugh at my younger self. I had a lot of big blazers that had really big shoulder pads. It was kind of funny." 

So what did she do? She got help.

Like the women network anchors she looked to for inspiration, Haener had the privilege of working with a stylist. 

For more than 10 years, and after building trust, the stylist took Haener out of her comfort zone, got her into mixing prints, and helped her pick out shoes and accessories.

This helped elevate Haener's sartorial choices, but the stylist also taught her to invest in things that are classic. She learned that quality fabric leads to a better cut, which means a better fit. 

She never let the stylist take away from her authenticity. She always remained true to herself. 

"I think it's fun to have your own sense of style," Haener said. "We do live in a very cosmopolitan city. I think it's fun to have a little bit of your own flair, your own personality."

In this industry, she says it's important to be humble and to stay grounded. 

"You can never think you're too cool for school, just because you're on TV," she said. 

Aware of her position, she's always wanted to represent KTVU in a positive light. She says the personalities at the station are like role models.  

"Always be respectful to people. Be kind to people and be authentic. I always try to be myself and not pretend to be someone I’m not." 

And that mindset is represented in what she chooses to wear at work.  

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"I want to be considered fashionable and stylish, but also age appropriate. I think that older women, as they get more mature, have to be careful about trying to look too young." 

Haener says she's not a fashion expert, and she knows that what she considers tasteful isn't the same as someone else's standard. But for nearly three decades, she's had an undeniably lengthy career. 

If you're starting off a TV journalism career or simply looking to step up your game in a professional setting, you might want to take advice from a real pro. Or at least find your style icon, one who fits your personality. 

She has some tips: 

"I think the neckline is important for a woman and not over accessorizing it. If you're going to wear a bigger earring, I don't wear a necklace." 

She goes for a clean and fresh look, so people aren't zeroing in on what she's wearing. The goal is for people to listen to you. 

"You don't want your clothes to take away from what you're saying." 

No matter what, people are going to comment. But she's always taken it in stride.

They'll say, "I love your dress. Where’d you get that dress?" 

"I love it when people like my looks. I think there’s a mix between classic, tailored clothing and also throwing in some bits that are trendy. Strong colors and not showing too much skin."

Veronica Beard, ALC, and Theory have provided some of Haener's more recent looks.

"As I’ve gotten older, I like to wear a lot of dresses," she said. 

And she's having more fun with fashion at this point of her long and successful career. 

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Haener says she's excited for playful vacation fashions as she looks forward to retirement. If you've looked at her Instagram page, you probably have an idea of what she's talking about.

With limitations to what she can wear on TV, the vacation looks will open up an entirely new dimension to her wardrobe. She's ready to break out the cotton poplin, linens and sundresses. 

But first, she has to read the news from the anchor desk in her steadfast and classy delivery a few more times. 

Haener's contribution to the legacy of KTVU is undeniable. She made professionalism look effortless and drew upon the strength of women in the industry who came before her. And she made sure that, one way or another, you would take her seriously. 

Andre Torrez is a digital content producer for KTVU. Email Andre at andre.torrez@fox.com or call him at 510-874-0579.