Hey, it’s no secret, part of the fun of being a TV reporter or anchor is the great clothing you get to wear. It is fun to dress the part! But nowadays many outfits worn on air send the wrong message.
Before you start griping at me with “Hey the world is getting more casual, so should we!” hear me out. What you wear really defines you as a person and a journalist. For cold hard proof, I suggest you follow agent Micah Johnson from MediaStars on Twitter (@TV_Agent). He often throws in fashion tidbits. Recently, he tweeted about EMMY judging and had journalists debating fashion for two days. I talked with Micah about the fashion faux pas he sees on demo tapes and the dangerous consequences for your career.
Micah’s first point: Credibility. Think about the people you meet. You judge those people based on appearance. People are visual and therefore make decisions visually. Micah says, “Your wardrobe defines you, period.” So when you are putting together your demo, remember your clothing describes, “Who you are, who you perceive yourself to be and who you hope to be.” A case in point is Micah’s Twitter image. He wears a suit in it. Imagine if that picture had him in cut off blue jeans and a Hawaiian shirt. Would that make you think he could place people on the major market or network level? The same goes for you when you are on the air. Your appearance adds to your credibility in both doing your daily job and when you are job searching.
Your demo helps you showcase who you are and who you can appeal to. Think about that for a moment. Your ND’s and GM’s probably urge you to appeal to the key demos. That’s not just 25-35. The people watching the news that can afford to buy the products in the, oh so crucial, local spots are probably 40 plus. Is that sleeveless sundress you are wearing appealing to that age set? This audience is not impressed with casual dress. Even if they are starting to come to work in more polo’s and khaki’s themselves.
So what do those viewers like to see? What types of outfits make you look like a star that’s going places and too good to pass up? Micah says women should always wear bright colors and pastels. Royal purple, reds, and deep blues are vibrant and attractive to viewers. They are power colors. Remember many news sets are dark. If you wear a dark suit, you then look like a floating head. Not attractive or powerful.
We didn’t forget men. The key for you is tailored. That doesn’t mean you have to buy an expensive suit. It does mean you need to spend money getting that suit tailored to fit you. Another key, if you anchor, have the coat fitted for tailoring while sitting down. That’s how the suit will be worn most of the time. Also remember the trick William Hurt showed us during the classic TV news movie, “Broadcast News.” Sit on your coat tails for a great looking fit while on set. “That’s not just Hollywood trivia, there’s truth in that tidbit,” Micah says. What about reporters hoofing it out in the summer heat? Micah says suck it up and wear the dress shirt. His advice: A trick police officers use to stay dry when wearing their very hot uniforms and/or bullet proof vests: Baby powder and an under shirt. When you get out of the shower in the morning, put on baby powder, then a cotton under shirt, then your dress shirt. The baby powder helps wick away the sweat. Then the undershirt absorbs any sweat that makes it through the powder. It may be a little warmer than normal, but it won’t show and you’ll look the part of a professional, credible broadcaster.
Speaking of suits, when asked about fashion, plenty of women mention they hate blazers, and like wearing dresses. My favorite FB comment says suits are “so 1995.” Micah says don’t blow off suits as old school. The key is getting the tailored look, and blazers are a great way to do this. Like with men, you don’t have to buy top designers (heck most of us can’t afford it!). But you do spend money having your clothing tailored so they fit your figure. Again, if you anchor, have the fitting done while sitting down. As for sleeveless, Micah says avoid it unless you have arms like Angelina Jolie, back when she played Lara Croft in “Tomb Raider.” Remember, you want the people watching your demo to see you, not just stare at your arm flab.
His final suggestions, avoid big earrings, big necklaces and bright red lipstick. Yes, they are in the fashion magazines. But, you are not going out clubbing. You are delivering important information and actually want people to see and listen to you, not stare at your gigantic jewelry or eye popping lips. Credibility just does not mix with these things.
Still having doubts and don’t like being told what to wear? Ask yourself a key question: Am I a kick ass journalist going places? If the answer is no, then blow off this advice. But if you want to make something of yourself, remember dressing sloppy makes you look like you don’t know what you are doing, or what you want to accomplish. Dressing well, makes you look like a star!
Thanks to Micah Johnson, with MediaStars. Check him out on Twitter @TV_Agent for all kinds of juicy morsels about TV news.