What’s better to wear on TV – coat and tie or polo?

In 2003, I was doing play-by-play and sideline reporting for a startup TV network called The Football Network. It was all football all the time, before the NFL Network.

The first several broadcasts we did we wore coats and ties. About a month later, management gave us polo shirts with the company logo and asked us to wear them for our next broadcast. Ironically, the game was in my hometown of San Diego.

I was fired up. I am much more of a polo shirt kind of guy than a coat and tie guy. Alas, the night before the game, they told us not to wear the polos. Stay with the coat and tie.

Ask for clarification

Not long ago I was reminded of this story upon receiving an email from a friend. He likes to wear a sport coat and button down shirt on TV. His employer, though, just purchased polo shirts featuring the company logo and asked that the talent wear them on air. My friend wanted to know what to do.

Always do what your boss asks. Being labeled insubordinate can cost you your job

While some TV employers prefer talent wear a coat and button down, others like the casual look of a polo shirt. Having both in the opening montage on your demo can be very helpful.

Ask your boss if you can dress to your preference every now and then. Many employers will be accommodating.

Always bring a back up

By the way — anytime you are planning to wear a suit and tie, always bring a second tie that is a different color. It looks less than great when two broadcasters in a stand-up are wearing the same suit and tie combo. This is especially true considering it’s often a broadcaster working with an ex-athlete who is much larger than him. You’ll look like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito from Twins.

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