We've been told to, "Dress For Success", but does that mean you exude credibility? One of the most desired phrases a television news executive hopes to hear in a focus group is, "He/She seems very credible." BINGO! But how did that anchor get there? Good delivery? Great promotion? Public appearances? Maybe. My guess is the viewer also made an instant judgement based on what the talent was wearing. What does credible look like?
You make those assessments every day; when you meet someone, when you're interviewing for a story, when you hire an attorney, go to a doctor, etc. How they dress has an immediate impact on whether you trust them. As I watch television news, I see fashion credibility eroding every day. That's either because no one is paying attention, or that some feel "casual" is the way to attract younger viewers.
Recently, Beth Johnson, the founder of SurviveTVNewsJobs, invited on-air talent to submit photos to her Twitter stream and Facebook page. The purpose was to give feedback on the style and color of clothing. The result was interesting. At some point, sleeveless dresses for women seem to have creeped onto TV. Personally, I think they only belong at a BBQ at the Hamptons. They're not credible and not every woman has arms like Lara Croft. One of the excuses for wearing less was because the temperature in some markets is really hot - like Phoenix. Doesn't matter. Police officers, firefighters, FedEx drivers work in the same city. You wouldn't see a cop show up in a wife-beater. TV talent shouldn't show up "casual", either.
Here are some basic guidelines: GUYS: shirt and tie in the field. Forgoing the tie in a very hot market is OK if you're a reporter standing outside. On the anchor desk; dark suit, white or light colored shirt, colorful tie. Suits should be tailored with your shirt sleeve extending past your jacket sleeve. Jackets should be buttoned. WOMEN: Dresses or business appropriate top and pants in the field. On the anchor desk; blazer (not dark) and a nice shirt, blouse or camisole underneath. Jackets should be bright colors or pastels. A dark jacket will most likely blend into the background and you could become a floating head. Ladies; your jacket also needs to be tailored. You can get tons of jackets at consignment shops and then have your dry cleaner or tailor make them fit perfectly. Avoid shiny or satin materials. No large, chunky, distracting jewelry, either. Remember, the viewer is making their assessment of you by what you're wearing. You don't want to look like you're auditioning for My Big American Gypsy Wedding.
When you're standing in front of your mirror getting dressed, think to yourself, "What image do I want to portray? What do I want the viewer to think of me? Will this outfit help make me more credible?" If you can answer, "Yes", then you're good to go.