Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The $23 Dress

TV Anchor Dress, Meteorologist $23 dress, what tv anchors wear
The $23 dress in pink, blue, purple, green & red. 

Let's talk about that $23 dress meteorologists are wearing. Its clean lines, figure-hugging fit and bright colors make it the perfect dress for TV anchors, reporters and mets. The price can't be beat. The black on the side panels creates a slimming effect that is a female anchor's best friend.

That dress illustrates one of the biggest headaches professionals, primarily women, who make their livings on television have: finding affordable, clothing that looks good on-camera. It's harder than you could ever imagine.

Before you roll your eyes, read on.

RELATED: Learn From CBSLA Makeup Artist Mark Starr How To Do Eye Makeup For Television.
RELATED: On-Camera Wardrobe Tips For Women

TV Anchor Wardrobe, $23 dress, What TV Anchors Wear

The Wardrobe Myth
Let's dispel one of the biggest myths about working as a TV anchor, meteorologist or reporter. Most local television professionals don't have clothing allowances and stylists. We are generally on our own. I had a $2500 yearly clothing budget in the mid-2000's which could have bought a slew of $23 dresses. That stipend went away, though, when the economy tanked.

Some TV stations do clothing tradeouts with local retailers. When I worked in Guam, we had a deal with Benetton which provided clothes for the station. A female anchor friend currently gets her clothes in a tradeout from Dillard's. Those clothes are usually not ours to keep. We must give them back to the stores.

Network talent (think Today show hosts or Nightly News anchors) have stylists who dress them. Some anchors in top markets (New York and LA) have clothing allowances. Beyond that, most of us are constantly on the hunt for affordable clothing that works well on TV. When you're a reporter or anchor in a small market making $18,000 a year, a $23 dress is a Godsend.

I remember when I spent $200 for an Ann Taylor suit during my time in Knoxville back in the days when we wore suits on TV. That was almost 1% of my annual $24,000 salary. My news director loved it. My bank account? Not so much.

There are consultants that stations use to recommend clothing for anchors. In some instances the station pays for consultant-approved clothing. In others, the talent pays for it.

In any case you will see a lot of the same lines and clothing styles on female anchors across the country. There's a reason a lot of us wear sheath dresses. The lines are good and they work beautifully on-camera.

This will sound like "#FirstWorldPain" but shopping for clothing is one of the biggest headaches that female anchors have to deal with on a weekly, almost daily basis. Why? Because we need to wear stylish, seasonal clothing in bright colors that POP. The clothing needs to hug our bodies so it doesn't make us look bigger than we are but not be too tight that we look like we're heading out on a Saturday night.

Here's the thing: if we wear the same thing within a month or so, we'll typically hear about it from viewers. That makes the need to find affordable, almost disposable clothing a necessity. Many anchors consign their clothes after wearing them just a few times to avoid email from viewers or their bosses about having "worn that outfit just last week".

TV Anchor Wardrobe, $23 dress, What TV Anchors Wear
This dress was $49.
The great thing about buying clothes for TV is that they generally don't have to be of great quality. This $49 dress I wore on KCBS/KCAL will fall apart after a few trips to the dry cleaner. But I if wear it five times, getting four-five months of use out of it, it's a wardrobe win.

My TV anchor friends and I are constantly looking for sales and retailers that offer colorful clothing at a good price. When we find a good sale or dress in a range of colors, we share the scoop. Hence, the $23 dress that meteorologists love.

The guys have it easy. All they need is an updated tie and pocket square and they're good to go. Remember this story about the Australian male anchor who wore the same suit for year? No one said a word.

I have one male anchor friend who constantly shops for ties during commercial breaks. He picks them up on ebay and sells his used ties there as well. Most of his clothing budget is paid for via his Paypal account. Nice.

The Teal Sheath-Wearing Elephant In The Room
Wardrobe and appearance are rarely-discussed subjects in university classrooms, but it's a critical factor by which television professionals, again usually women, are judged. It's like the elephant in the room (wearing a teal sheath dress, no less) that no one wants to address. Yet it's something that, without question, during my almost 20 years of working on-camera that has been discussed, criticized and analyzed more than anything. I know I am not alone.

In fact, it's something I am asked about by aspiring sports broadcasters, both male and female, constantly. They typically set up the question with "We never talked about this in school...". Again: what are professors not teaching these kids?!? I digress.

During my time in Los Angeles, the one criticism I received about my work was that my hair was too curly. I appreciate the feedback. I have one dress that I wear to this very day that one viewer has emailed to tell me I look like I am wearing a scuba suit while other viewers compliment it. Hey, it's a subjective business.

If you're a reporter or anchor starting out and you're getting the negative feedback, don't worry about it. We all do. If it's solid, constructive criticism take it to heart and learn from it. If it's mean spirited, let it roll off your back. That is a skill set you need to learn if you're going to be in this business.

Affordable Wardrobe Resources For Television Personalities
TV Anchor Wardrobe, $23 dress, What TV Anchors Wear

There are now so many wonderful, affordable clothing options for anchors. You don't have to spend a fortune, in fact you shouldn't. Here are some retailers and brands that make affordable clothing for those of you who work on-camera or who have an upcoming media appearance.

  • Homeyee - the maker of the $23 dress has a range of colorful, flattering dresses that are perfect for on-camera.
  • Banana Republic - lots of great dress options. They always have good sales.
  • Ann Taylor - again, you rarely have to pay full retail for their clothes because of their constant sales.
  • Antoni Melani - this Dillard's brand is a favorite of one of my anchor friends. Another anchor friend just bought this dress. It's gorgeous on-camera.
  • Saks Off 5th - I purchased this dress for $49 there. They have some solid deals.
  • ASOS - you have to look but they have a good offering of dresses at a nice price point.

Don't be afraid to shop at sample sales and outlet malls. I adore them. I purchased the Trina Turk dress you see in that photo there for $50. Her dresses usually retail for upwards of $250 which is not in my budget. Sample sales are great ways to find deals. Just Google "your city" + "sample sale" to find some in your area.

Outlet malls are also a great find. I love Tahari's clean lines but they're usually too pricey for me. At the Tahari outlet in Camarillo I picked up a great dress for $79. The lesson here? If you have the time to shop around, do so. It's definitely worth it.

The bargain wardrobe in action. Nothing I am wearing here cost more than $100. 
Heck! My makeup cost more than that.

FREE DOWNLOAD: 10 Wardrobe Tips For Women On-Camera
I could go on about wardrobe tips & tricks but I have rambled on long enough. Download my little cheat sheet offering 10 Wardrobe Tips For Women On-Camera. (Guys, I have one for you, too). This is a great resource for those of you who are new to the business and have questions you need answered but are too afraid to ask.  Don't worry....we've all been there.

In fact, I am thinking about diving further into this topic. Would you like more stories focused on on-camera wardrobe and makeup issues? Let me know in the comments section or email me any questions you might have.

Shop Dresses All Under $50

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