The Trick To Building An Impressive Newsroom Wardrobe On A Budget

The Trick To Building
An Impressive Newsroom
Wardrobe On A Budget

Written by Soul Witness
🕒 June 18, 2019

You got the part…Now you have to look it.

Reporters everywhere know the struggle: “Okay, so, I know I need to look good, but have you seen what I’m making?!” Building up any kind of wardrobe on a budget can be difficult, but building up a professional-looking newsroom wardrobe might take the cake.

Let’s start with what’s “work appropriate.” For off-air folks, this is a conversation you need to have with your manager as soon as you start.

What is the dress code according to your station’s handbook? Most of the time, it’s business casual. Some nice slacks, maybe even nice denim pants, semi-dressy tops, (think a casual baby shower or graduation party…but there are lots of parents and grandparents there) and usually no sandals are allowed.

However, this might not be the case. Some offices say, “It’s casual Friday every day!” I would tell you to take this piece of advice to heart though.

Remember to always dress for the job you want. Believe me, managers notice.

Image result for the devil wears prada andy gif

Think of it this way: If some big executive from corporate, or a major company, came in to your station and offered you your dream job that very second, would you look presentable and professional? Or, would you be wearing a t-shirt with a cartoon character on it?

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good graphic tee, but I save those for my days off and chilling with friends.

For on-air talent, you need to “keep it classy”…and not just in San Diego. (I know, bad joke.) But for real, people won’t take you seriously, and it can be even harder to gain a viewer’s or an interviewee’s trust if you look like you just came from the club.

Am I saying go full Little House on the Prairie? Long sleeve, ankle length dresses? No. But just keep in mind: You’re a professional, so you need to look like one.

The attention you get should be for your work, not your wardrobe.

No super low-cut tops, no short skirts or dresses (You know, THAT kind of short. Where you can’t even sit down short.), no skin-tight…anything. We all know we can’t shoot and lug around gear if we can’t breathe.

That goes for the gents, too. If that suit, or jacket, or shirt looks like a “shmedium,” it’s time to go up one or two sizes.

Speaking of sizes:
Dear everyone,
That number or letter on a tag does 👏🏽not 👏🏽define 👏🏽you!

If you need go up to a medium or a large, to a 4, or 10, or a 24, it doesn’t matter. That number or letter doesn’t mean you’re not perfect the way you are.

It’s all is about how you FEEL in your clothes. You should feel confident in your outfit in any situation. Like I mentioned above, if you can’t breathe, or sit down, it’s okay to go up a size or two to feel comfortable!

NO ONE should be in your personal space, looking at your tags, anyway.

Image result for personal space gif

If they are…you probably need to give HR a call.

Now for my tips and tricks! These are my top suggestions that I’ve used for my personal wardrobe:

There’s no shame in scoring a good deal no matter where it is. I shop at Ross, Goodwill, other re-sale stores, and Walmart. If I go to (insert chain store here) I go to the sale racks first.

Now before you say, “Uh…Goodwill? No, I don’t want lice,” hear me out. Hit up the one in the “rich” part of town, or neighboring “rich” town. You’d be amazed at some of the great-quality clothes (men’s and women’s), shoes, and accessories that are just given away.

Some items even have the tags still on them! Even if it has been worn, there is a stain, or it has a small tear in it, and you have to spend $10 at the cleaners, you’re still coming out with a much better deal than paying full price!

In case you’ve never been to a re-sale shop, or thrift store, the prices are very cheap. Several of them also may have “sale days” where “everything red is $1.” Yes, I’m serious.

Another tip is to learn how to re-style pieces and outfits you already have. This can be adding a belt to a dress that didn’t originally have one, changing up jewelry, putting different shirts with one particular tie, adding pocket squares to your jackets, dressing up a plain shirt by adding a scarf, and so on.

Also, if you find a shirt for $5 that you love, but it has a little random “thing” (charm, extra tie strings, etc.) on it, don’t be afraid to buy the shirt, take it home, then cut the “thing” off.

Now for items you should have or need to add to your closet.

It all starts with these staples:

     • Ladies, get you a pencil skirt. Trust me. A pencil skirt doesn’t necessarily mean it’s skin-tight. It’s about the cut. A pencil skirt is straight, and it does stick a little closer to the body. It’s usually just past your knees in length.

Related image   Related image

You can style this skirt about, oh….3,204,207 different ways. If it’s a solid black or dark gray color, you can pretty much wear any of your tops with it. Pro-tip: If your shirt doesn’t look quite right, try tucking it in!

     • Everyone, stick with solid tops and solid bottoms. You can come up with more combos this way (see above re-styling tips.), and keep in mind, crazy, bright, bold patterns usually don’t look good on air anyway.

     • A solid black and/or brown belt that doesn’t have too “flashy” of a buckle. You can wear this with your pants or with dresses. (I poke a hole in mine so that it will fasten a bit higher on the waist.)

     • Dressy-ish shoes that are COMFORTABLE, and will stay on your feet! These can be extremely hard to find but once you do, buy them.

     • A couple of nice dresses or suits. I know I told you how to get some deals, but it’s also worth it to invest in a few good, go-to pieces for things like award dinners, if you are asked to emcee an event, company parties, or visits from corporate.

Image result for belt outfits for men   Image result for work dress for women

No matter what, you’re all beautiful just the way you are. However, we are in a business where appearance plays a huge role. A cute outfit can change your attitude, so use that positivity to go tell stories that change the world!

Read More from Soul Witness

Subscribe to our newsletter today, and you’ll never miss another article!


  1. Also, if you’re at a desk, you can save money by not wearing pants!

  2. This article is pretty much nonsense, in my opinion. Certainly does not seem like it’s written by someone that knows the field well, if at all. The best advice it offers is no graphic tees and, if you’re gonna be on tv, maybe step up your game.

    As a young print journalist here is my take: Dress to your beat — if you’re a community journalist, like I am, that usually means jeans or khakis and a button up shirt, or something along those lines. If I know I’m covering a more formal event I’ll dress maybe tuck maybe tuck my shirt in. If I’m covering something that is formal I’ll throw a suit on, but as much as you don’t want to be underdressed at a formal event you don’t want to be overdressed at something more casual. Really not a difficult subject, really. Just dress to the occasion. Heck, nobody was ever denied a public records request because they were wearing a T-shirt. Looking to save a few bucks? Shop a thrift store or sales rack. How you dress is not what makes or breaks a journalism career—unless maybe, like the other poster on this thread, you don’t wear pants.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *