Several years ago, when I was accompanying a friend to get his first Capitol Hill press pass, I handed him one of the disposable razors I keep in my car and said, “You need to run this over your face.” “Why?” he asked? “It’s a simple matter of respect,” I told him. To this day, he gives me a hard time about it — but he did get his credential.
Maxims like “dress the part”, “dress for success” and “dress for the job you want, not the job you have” all carry the same message: your attire matters, and says a lot about you as a professional.
The Untucked Wedding Photographer
Sometime back, I was making a delivery to a client at a five-star hotel where I had completed an assignment the night before. I’d seen a wedding rehearsal taking place the previous evening, so I decided to check out the photographer as he captured posed shots before the ceremony. As I observed the scene, I realized that the photographer was wearing jeans. Then I realized he didn’t have his shirt tucked in.
A fancy hotel, everyone else dressed to the nines, the bride and groom in all their glory — and here he was, in white athletic shoes.
If you’re thinking of finding some excuse to defend this wardrobe malfunction, understand that I don’t care that he was doing these images before the ceremony, and that maybe he would tuck his shirt in once the ceremony was about to begin. The fact remains that he was engaged in work and interacting with the entire bridal party and parents while looking disheveled. And that’s bad form.
A Second Set of Clothes
The wedding photographer had no excuse for dressing so poorly. But even if you are thrown into an assignment unexpectedly, you should come prepared.
Many a time I have been working an assignment in jeans and a polo shirt — at an informal outdoor event, for example — when I’ve received an unanticipated call for an assignment at an office building, where the appropriate dress is khakis and a button-down shirt at a minimum. That’s why I carry a second set of clothes in the car; for me, it’s as second nature as packing my equipment.
You are a professional. Act — and dress — that way!