2015 / 5 August

What to Wear On TV (or the Internet)…or Anywhere There May Be a Camera


So you have been asked to be a guest on a television segment or maybe even an Internet video. And now you find yourself asking the age old question of, “What do I wear?”

Don’t panic. A few simple guidelines can help put your best self forward.

Let’s start off with what NOT to wear, because there are a few things that can be so distracting on camera that they make what you are saying nearly unintelligible. And that is never a good thing.

Do NOT Wear:

  1.     Pinstripes. I know, in person pinstripes can look polished and professional, but on camera they make a mess by causing what is called a moiré effect. The same goes for hound’s-tooth, herringbone or corduroy.
  2.     Busy patterns.  Save your Hawaiian shirt for your island vacations, and for that matter, anything else that has a busy or overly complicated pattern. They’re too distracting for an on camera appearance.
  3.     Sleeveless or short sleeve shirts or dresses: I know that there are a number of well-known television personalities who wear sleeveless attire on camera and totally rock it. Those people also dedicate a large amount of their free time to incredible workout regimens. I’d think long and hard about wearing anything sleeveless on camera. Male or female.
  4.     Clothing that is very snug or very loose: The camera exaggerates the nuances of what you are wearing, so you want to avoid anything that adds inches or pinches in the wrong spots.
  5.     Distracting, large or dangling jewelry. The last thing you want is the viewer paying attention to which way your earrings are swinging or the sound of your bracelets clanging together.
  6.     Blue or green if you are going to be in front of a fake background. Those backgrounds are called chroma-keys and they allow for anything of a certain color to be filled in with a specified picture. If you are the same color as the background, you could suddenly become part of the San Diego skyline.

Do Wear:

  1. A well fitting collared shirt. Make sure it is pressed and wrinkle free, and none of the buttons are pulling.
  2. A well fitting jacket. Jackets are a great way to dress up your look, but be sure not to overdress for the environment or audience.
  3.     Smoothing undergarments. For men an undershirt worn underneath a button down can smooth out your look and for women a snug-fitting camisole can help hide the lines or bumps from a bra. If you are being shot full-length, make sure your pants or skirt fall nicely without getting hung up on any curves and that no one knows if you wear boxers or briefs.
  4.     A solid color that is not electric by definition. Colors that pop are good, but colors that blow away your own skin tone are not so good. Choose a color that you know compliments your skin color but isn’t so bright that it overpowers you.
  5. A Tie That Adheres to the Same Rules as The Rest of Your Clothing. Ties are a great way to add personality and color but just like all of the above, make sure they are not distracting.

When in doubt, ask the producer of the segment for specific guidelines on what to wear and bring two or 3 easily changed options along so that you ask for a second opinion in person…and this way, you’ll also have a backup just in case you spill coffee on yourself.

This post was originally written for J. Wingfield, and a version of it is shared here as well. 

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