If you’ve never thought of what it would be like working on Capitol Hill as a correspondent for one of the major networks, you’re probably not alone. Thinking about how comprehensive your work would have to be may cause you to let your mind wander away to other types of work. The people who do work at Capitol Hill always seem to be dressed either in a suit or a very dressy dress (usually not formal wear, of course). Take a look at the model in the photograph. She’s dressed perfectly for a newscast on a show if she faces one of the more famous commentators, if she’s prepared to work on one of the Sunday morning political talk shows, on CBS, NBC or ABC, or on one of the special reports in Washington, D.C. about some unusual breaking news.
When you do notice how the media are dressed for such an occasion, you’ll find women or men in something classic. For a Saturday night political talk show, you might see Eleanor Clift with her colleagues, all in suits. Some of them might wear the kind of heels that you might not want to walk several miles in but that work if you have to sit down while you discuss some crucial subject matter. It might be a talk show about whether or not the government should use or is using drones. As a new election approaches, it might be speculation about who will win the next debate or who the President might appoint to the Supreme Court if there is a vacancy. With the political trends recently, it certainly could be a new discussion of Roe v. Wade and whether or not guns should be permitted in Illinois as a reaction to the most recent outbreak of violence in the East. However, no matter what the topic might be, you can count on a political male commentator wearing a suit, tie and dressy shirt, usually in navy blue, grey, or black, all put together in a subtle way.
Changing to local anchors in Chicago in the major networks, whether it is CNN, Fox, WGN or the other networks, you probably will find someone like Rob Johnson in a brown suit with Kate Sullivan wearing a jacket, reporting on the most recent food fair in the Loop as it gets closer to summer. Phil Ponce might be covering the latest in the theater scene in the Chicago area with a report about something like Million Dollar Quartet, which might get rave reviews or criticism about the costumes, depending on who reviews the musical or the play. Ponce will be dressed up, though, for sure.
If you notice any of those reports, it is unlikely that those reporters or anchors will give an editorial on politics about some alderman or clerk unless he or she is dressed well for the occasion. Anybody who does want to work in such a position has to dress for success in the newsroom, no matter what he or she is covering. Don’t expect to even get an interview to work in one of these places without having done your homework. However, part of doing your homework is wearing something stunning for TV, whether it means working inside the newsroom interviewing the mayor or outside in the street with a camera man except when there is inclement weather.
So make sure you’re prepared for the topic, even if it is an interview with somebody from your company in the newsroom, but don’t forget that it’s not office casual if you are there to talk about trends in business as an outside salesperson for Kraft or Jewel. It’s time to dress up and take the opportunity seriously. You don’t want to mess up that opportunity, do you?