by Courtney Schellin
It’s 5:30 pm. I’m in New York to cover the SMU Men’s basketball team in the championship game for SMU TV’s sports show Press Pass. Tip off is at 7 p.m.
For my co-anchor, fellow journalism student Billy Embody, this means he has time to relax, finish some work, and probably watch some TV.
But for me, it’s time to start getting ready.
In broadcast journalism, looking the part is very much part of your job as an anchor or a reporter. When it comes to choosing attire for a broadcast, we women must always work a bit harder than our male counterparts. Let’s just say that worrying about which pumps to wear is only the beginning.
To be camera-ready, journalists must present a professional appearance. But many sportscasters generally agree that this is trickier for women than men.
“Guys can throw on a suit and tie and be ready to go, while women have to worry about if they are dressed too provocatively and if their makeup is too much,” says Kelsey Charles, Dallas Cowboys radio show host.
Wondering whether my heels are too high, my make up is too much, or I’m showing too much cleavage are just a few of the concerns I need to consider before I do a broadcast– concerns that male reporters don’t need to focus on.
And if we get something wrong, you can be sure we’ll hear about it.
“It seems as though women’s attire is critiqued more than men’s and they need more variety,” says Beionny Mickles, sports anchor for SMU TV’s Press Pass.
Whether you’re behind the anchor desk or reporting in the field, attire is an important consideration, especially if you’re like me: a woman pursuing a career in a male-dominated field like sports broadcasting. You don’t want clothing to distract from your message, and with the target audience being mostly men, what is considered fashion forward might not always translate as such.
“You can still be cute, but conservative is key. Earn their respect and attention with the quality of your work, not the slit up your skirt,” says Charles.
I’d much rather be complimented after a broadcast about what I had to say than about how I look. But hey, it never hurts to receive a compliment on a cute, put-together outfit!
For me when it comes to creating the perfect on-camera look, the best way to appear professional while adding my own twist is to experiment with some big accessories or pops of color.
These simple twists can help you find your look as a reporter while also helping you stand out amongst the rest.
“Stick to solid, bold colors,” says Anne McCaslin, Lubbock news anchor.
Charles and McCaslin both offer tidbits of advice that we all as women can relate to — the best way to look slim in front of the camera.
- Avoid loose-fitting garments: “You know the saying “The camera adds 10 pounds?” It’s true,” says Charles. “I love loose fitting and boho style clothing in my free time, but when I go on camera, I try to keep my look streamlined and properly tailored.”
- Stay away from large prints and ruffles: “Even if something with ruffles is loose and cute, it doesn’t look good on air,” says McCaslin. “The same goes for prints. Small print accents work well, but most big prints don’t look very good.”
The thing I love about sports reporting is the easygoing nature and casualness when it comes to attire compared with what we behind the anchor desk. If you’re scratching you’re head, asking, “There’s a difference?” then let me tell you, the attire can be world’s apart. In short, when anchoring behind a desk, your look should be clean cut without distractions, while for reporting, your attire can change from situation to situation.
Reporters have more leeway because of their working conditions. You never know when you might need to run across a field to catch up with a source.
When you’re anchoring behind the desk, you should have a professional look that is simple yet elegant. Down to the length of your hair, every tiny detail matters.
Courtney Schellin anchoring for SMUTv
“Too little is usually perfect and always play it safe if you want to be successful,” says Lexie Hammesfahr, anchor for SMU TV’s The Daily Update. “I consider the pattern and brightness of an outfit as well as the last time I wore it and what jewelry.”
When I’m reporting sports, my hair can be longer, I don’t always have to wear a jacket or sleeves, and if I want to bring out my new chunky turquoise necklace for a broadcast, why not! Just make sure not to get too crazy when you try to branch out.
What I wear also differs depending on the specific sport I am covering. For example, what I would wear to cover a basketball game is going to be a whole lot different than what I would wear to cover a football game.
Think of it this way: Are you ever going to see a basketball coach like, say, our very own Larry Brown, sporting a Bill Belichick cut-off hoodie on the sidelines? Absolutely not. As for Belichick, this is standard game day attire. (For all you non-sports gals, Bill Belichick is the NFL football coach of the New England Patriots.)
The same is true for reporters. Although, don’t count on ever seeing me in one of those cut offs.
When it comes to football games, the attire can be much more relaxed than what you might wear to a basketball game. If it’s -10 degrees outside and I have to cover a football game in a stadium outdoors, you better believe I’ll be wearing a parka and scarf for the broadcast.
Now if it’s -10 degrees outside and I’m covering a basketball game indoors, I’ll probably be wearing the same thing I would wear to the game as I would if it were 75 degrees.
Of course, our male colleagues do share some of our concerns. Working in television has a price
“I have to make sure I’m clean-shaven,” says Greg Tepper, Fox Football Friday host. “Beyond that, putting on makeup is still a foreign concept to me, whereas it’s second nature to my female colleagues.”
Oh, and one more thing:
“I make sure it won’t clash with anything I’m wearing or anything my co-host is wearing.”