YP Corner: The difference between ‘dressing nice’ and ‘dressing professional’

Heather Poltrock

“Dress for Success”

What does that really mean? During our YP committee meeting awhile back we discussed how on-air appearance isn’t something that gets touched on too much in college. That means some reporters or new anchors either dress like they’re 50 or dress far too causal because they’ve had no guidance.

In my mind, WSAW-TV anchor Kassandra Sepeda stands out. To me, her wardrobe is professional and her look is consistent.

“I don’t want what I’m wearing to be the first thing viewers notice. I want their attention on the graphics on-screen or video we are showing. So I try not to wear clothes that are too distracting,” she said.

Those missing the mark may not understand the difference between ‘looking nice’ and ‘looking professional’.

“A pretty sundress with delicate straps and floral pattern is probably nice for a brunch or baby shower but it doesn’t make it professional. When selecting an outfit to be “professional” I like to think of my clothes and how it could reflect credibility. I ask questions like, ‘Will this outfit help me provide information with pride? Do I look responsible? Will it be appealing to my audience?’ she said.

Sepeda said she avoids large prints, low cut tops, short skirts, and big chunky jewelry.

“In general my clothes are pretty plain or for a nice word, ‘classic.’ I don’t want what I’m wearing to look dated after a year because my budget can’t afford a new wardrobe every few months. I’ll leave the cutting edge fashion on the runway,” she said.

She describes her on-air look as ‘comfortable, colorful, and confident’.

“I truly believe everyone looks good in jewel tones; sapphire blue, ruby red, amethyst purple, citrine yellow, and emerald green. Black is always flattering. When it comes to colors I avoid, white is a big no-no. Not only am I afraid I’ll get a stain on it last minute, I find the color too bright and overpowering on set for our lights.”

Sepeda said TJ Maxx is a girl’s best friend when it comes to affordable dresses and tops. She also says don’t be afraid to shop second-hand.

“Amazon.com also has some nice affordable selections but make sure to read the reviews. Another great resource is the ‘Newscasters Closets.’ It’s a Facebook group made up of more than 3,000 journalists that sell and ship clothes, shoes, and jewelry across the country at affordable prices.”

And we had to ask—what would you never wear?

“I’m not afraid to wear small prints like polka dots but big prints… count me out. I think they are distracting. Something that’s often overlooked are seasons. I would never wear a sleeveless dress in the winter or fall because it would look un-relatable to the viewers. I also avoid horizontal stripes. I’m curvy and the stripes seem to emphasize parts of my body I’d rather not. That being said, I don’t like to wear clothes that have absolutely no shape. I like to avoid chunky sweaters too.”

Heather Poltrock, WSAW-TV, Wausau