Even among middle-aged engineeers, fashion matters.

I’ve returned from the National Association of Broadcasters Conference in Las Vegas, and here’s what I learned: there is a very, very exact dress code allowed at the NAB. What you wear makes a powerful statement about who you are, and there are only 4 acceptable outfits available.

I tried to get pictures of each, but people at the convention may be awfully used to cameras, but they are decidedly not used to people take their picture with a camera phone. I'm sure you're imagination will take you there, though - here’s what each NAB outfit says about you.

1. Dark blue suit, striped power tie. Hair optional but not recommended. Wire-rimmed glasses preferable. This says:

“I am an important business executive wandering aimlessly through the Convention halls quizzically looking at satellite dishes for something I can recommend purchasing to justify my spending $6,000 to travel to this convention.”

“I am a Japanese CEO who has inexplicably flown from Tokyo to Las Vegas to look at Sony flatscreen televisions.”

2. Dark blue suit, pastel dress shirt, no tie. Those without a Blackberry Pearl or an overly quick walking pace need not apply. This says:

“As you can see from my gutsy decision to not wear a tie, I am a creative executive type. The wave of the future! I will be making a number of uniformed, passionate decisions over the course of this convention, all of which will be disregarded by my boss over there squinting at that satellite dish.”

It is not wise to stand too near these individuals, as they will constantly having short, loud conversations with people on their Pearls ironing out the details of important decisions that will be overturned in 48 hours, as soon as the paperwork is filed.

3. Dark-toned polo shirt with stitched logo on the left, tucked into dark-toned, pleated Dockers. This one is the most terrifying, because it says:

“Allow me to engage you in a conversation about color timing!”

Do not attempt to sidle away from these individuals, as they will attempt to follow you, which will signal to other polo shirts that a conversation about color timing is taking place. Once they smell blood in the water like that, there’s no getting away.

4. Lightly-patterned dress shirt tucked into Levis. Out-of-style sneakers - especially New Balance - preferred. Small wirebound notebook for confused note-taking a must.

“Hey, my church let me fly out here to learn things about media! Care to explain your product very slowly?”

You’re sure to see these individuals constantly texting and calling back to their church pastors to tell them that they are learning an awful lot and traveling to Vegas was a very excellent investment. Here's one right here:

You'll notice behind him you can see a Category One calling back to inform the Senior VP that they'll be purchasing a satellite dish that afternoon.

A fun game to play is to walk around the Convention Center and count people who don’t fall at least roughly into one of these categories. If you discount vendors, you can make it a good 15 minutes. Even counting vendors, you’re sure to make it at least ten.

I’ll try to post more tomorrow before I leave for New Hampshire. More pictures to come.