My mom always told me “Dress to impress.” Where my adviser in high school always told me “dress for the job you want.” Unlike other professions journalist do not have a set in stone dress code. In an article The Journalist’s Wardrobe Dress Code for Reporters by Julie Stroebel, she talks about how journalist can’t just count on good interviewing skills, writing talent and a good nose for a story. Journalist need to also think about what they wear and how it can have a very big impact on extracting information from their sources.
As a student journalist this is also plays a very key role in the way you want the people you are interviewing to perceive you. When I go out to interview someone for a story I all ways try to look super professional, I have personally noticed how it makes people interact with you differently based on the story and how they see me based off what I wear.
Knowing who you are interviewing is key in knowing how you need to dress. The question is what should you wear when you interview a fellow college student? Could and should you wear the same outfit to interview a professor? The President of the School? A local business owner?
We all know that the first impression someone makes of you is based off your own appearance. In Stroebel’s article she writes, “A reporter’s wardrobe makes two statements before he ever opens his mouth: (1) this is how professional I am, and (2) this is how similar to and/or different from you I am.”
She goes on to explain how having a source that views you as similar to them can help with getting them to open up more. “The risk in drawing differences between journalist and interviewee is a trust issue,” writes Stroebel. “Sources are more likely to open up to people with whom they feel they have shared interests, values, backgrounds, and statuses. This does not mean reporters should seek to deceive or mislead sources, but wardrobes can be a simple means of connecting to a source.”
So how do you make this work for you?
- Make sure you know the assignment well and that you are dressed to match it. Just like you do research on the topic think about where you are going to be interviewing your sources and dress to fit the. For example if you are coving a black tie event make sure that you are dressed in a way that you won’t stand out but won’t draw attention to yourself by looking like you don’t belong.
- Dress in a way that works with the activity you are covering. If you are coving an event that is very active and you will be moving around a lot, high heels or a 3 piece suit are not a good idea.
- Keep extra spare set of cloths on hand just incase. Just like when you write different story topics you put on different hats. The same goes with who your sources are and making sure you have something that will fit who are interviewing. You never know where a story might take you and you wouldn’t want to be caught interviewing the mayor in jeans and a sweatshirt.
- Even if the event being covered is more laid back still dressing in manner that look profession is key. You don’t need to go all out business attire but don’t wear a concert T-shirt to an interview.