A lot of things go into a journalist’s job. Fashion, as it turns out, is not one of them
“This is Vancouver.”
When Martha Perkins was working at the Westender, that’s the response she would get when inquiring about dress codes for various events. Basically, they could wear whatever they want, because in Vancouver, fashion at work is “all over the map.”
Now editor-in-chief at the Vancouver Courier, Perkins reflects the city’s energy in her offices, where casual Friday has become an all-week event. People are judged enough every day, according to Perkins, so what one chooses to wear at work should not be overly complicated with expectations and dress codes.
“I think people here have a lot of integrity and they will present themselves well, whether it’s how they speak with people they’re interviewing or what they’re wearing,” says Perkins.
The idea of “business attire” is certainly changing. When Steve Lus started his career as an early-morning radio host 20 years ago, he was convinced that a shirt and tie was the expected way to dress. Now a senior producer at the assignment desk at CBC Vancouver, his main priority is making sure his clothes can get wet from inevitable rain. Otherwise, he lets his reporting do the talking.
“If people are focused on what you’re wearing and not on the questions you’re asking, then that’s a problem,” says Lus.
This isn’t to say that appearance doesn’t matters in journalism. Your appearance, especially on TV is a selling point, but it can also be your downfall if you are sticking out for the wrong reasons, advises Lus.
“In the same way that if you have something in your voice that’s really distracting on radio, or some bad habits in your writing for online and print journalism. If you have something about your appearance that’s distracting, you should be actually taking care of that.”
Man or woman, some people like to dress up, and others don’t. It’s as simple as that. Vancouver journalists may be on the casual side of the spectrum, but never has this taken away from the authenticity of their work or how they are viewed by their colleagues.
“It’s not a male-female thing. It’s general society,” Perkins says. “If you’re a woman who likes to get dressed up, then other staff members respect you for it. If you want to wear pants every day, staff members respect you for it.”
It turns out the only fashion faux-pas for journalists is showing up in pyjamas. Otherwise, fully clothed and ready to work, you’re good to go.