How I, or any other reporter/anchor/on-air TV person, dress for work is an important part of my/our job. Television is a visual medium, therefore how I look is important. You can think it’s shallow or judgemental, but it’s a fact. What I wear and how I look will affect what you hear come out of my mouth and the way you hear it. Having worked in TV for over a decade now, I’ve worn a lot of bad…and learned. I’ve seen other people wear bad….and learned. It’s so frustrating to me to see people start out in this business with so much potential, only to be held back by what they wear. Or people who’ve been in the business awhile and choose to not maintain the upkeep of their professional appearance. It’s easy to get comfortable, but keeping an updated, professional appearance is something that must be done if you want a career in TV to thrive.
That said, there are a lot of elements I could include in this post and it would be pages long and no one would ever read it all. I’ll be flattered if they read all of this post, or any post here. Ha! But seriously – I’ll touch on a few of the bigger points today and probably revisit the topic here and there. My first and maybe most important point:
Dress appropriately for the story you’re covering. If you’re covering wildfires, it’s best to not wear a suit with stiletto heels. Pull out your station polo….or a collared shirt and khaki capris or pants with tennis shoes. (Shorts, IMHO, are never appropriate in a professional place of work.) If you’re covering a memorial for a police officer killed in the line of duty, your hot pink suit is not the best option. Has it been a stretch of 100+ degree days like it’s been here in Kansas? Sure, wear a tank top and capris….but have a suit jacket or change of clothes ready for when you go on the air. All of this can be executed by thinking about what you’re covering…and how you can blend into the story….not stand out. I know sometimes we don’t always know what we’ll end up covering for the day…that’s why you should always have a spare suit jacket, tennis shoes, polo and khaki pants on stand by both at home and at your desk at work, or in your station car. Those four items can help you look appropriate in any situation.
Your undergarments should never ever show. Whether you’re in the studio or out covering a story. This includes: bra straps, underwear through pants or skirt, a bra through a shirt. Nude undergarments are best. Keep your bra straps covered – so spaghetti-strap tank tops are a no-go. I have breastfed both my boys and shortly after returning to work post-Hudson, I had a bra strap sneak out during our noon newscast. Gasp! You can bet a couple viewers called the station to let people know. Thankfully our receptionist kindly had my back…told those viewers I was a breastfeeding new mom and they should show some grace…but when it comes down to it, that little wardrobe faux pax distracted viewers from what I said. I’ve made sure it hasn’t happened since.
My final point for this blog before everyone shuts me out: Skirts should always be knee-length…or at least an inch or two PAST fingertip-length. This allows you to do all the un-graceful movement being a reporter/MMJ/anchor requires without showing something that would cause a viewer to take you less seriously. This is the most violated rule I see. There’s a fine line between long-enough and too-short….and once you cross it…it can’t be unseen. Does your skirt have a slit? Be aware how high it goes. If it’s more than 4”…you probably shouldn’t wear it for work. Does your skirt look like it fits…or does it look like you might have trouble breathing? Don’t get me wrong – a skirt can be form-fitting without taking away everyone’s imagination.