Dressing For Television
Anything that could distract a viewer from your
message should stay in the wardrobe.
We’ve probably all seen television interviews or panel discussions where a gaudy tie or dangling earring stole the show. Chances are you remember the person, but have no idea what they were actually talking about.
There’s a time and a place for making a bold fashion statement, but a TV appearance is not one of them.
The goal in any media interview, TV appearance or panel discussion is to be heard. You want people to focus on what you are saying rather than what you are wearing or how you look.
Remember that TV cameras distort images, colours and patterns, so what you think looks good on you will be different on the other side of the television.
That’s why your clothing and appearance should be simple and understated when appearing on TV, unless you’re a fashion designer or artist who can justify it.
Aside from the words that come out of your mouth and the insights you deliver, what you wear is the single most important way to control what viewers think of you.
You want TV viewers to focus on your face and what you’re saying, and not your clothes or lack of them. People shouldn’t judge you by your appearance, but they will.
So here are some valuable clothing tips to ensure you captivate your audience for all the right reasons:
Colour is crucial: The safest colour on TV is sky blue although pastel colours work well too especially when paired with a grey or navy blue jacket;
Avoid wearing white, black or red. White glows and becomes the most noticeable thing on the TV screen. Black is too harsh and can suck up all the light. Red bleeds on camera and is distracting;
Avoid patterns and shiny fabrics: Small, repetitive patterns like pinstripes, chevron, plaid and houndstooth are difficult to see on TV and can make viewers dizzy because they strobe or distort. That’s because the camera lens just doesn’t know where to focus. The same goes for crazy patterns on men’s ties: stick to simple block colours with no designs. Remember too to avoid anything that glints, shines, or reflects under bright lights;
Keep jewellery to a minimum: The number one rule for women is to avoid wearing dangly earrings and bangles that jangle. They distract. Remove jewellery that moves, makes noise, or could hit your lapel microphone. Try to have no more than one ring on each hand;
Makeup matters: Makeup should be used in moderation for both women and men. At a minimum you should powder your nose, forehead and face to avoid looking shiny, oily or plastic. Be sure the powder you use on your face is the same color as your skin. If the studio or production company still has a make-up artist (they are a dying breed), accept it. If you are bald or balding, be sure to powder your head. The way most TV lighting works the forehead is the most likely place to reflect light or shine;
Eye Glasses: If you normally wear eye glasses, then it's still fine to wear them on TV. But there are a few simple rules to consider. If you wear designer glasses, are they distracting for viewers? It's important never to wear tinted lenses or sunglasses on camera. People need to see your eyes. It's amazing how many people appearing in court also show up with dark shades, which only makes them look even more questionable;
Shine Your Shoes: Be aware that your lower legs and feet may show in a sit-down studio interview. Polish your shoes and wear over-the-calf socks so your lower half looks as nice as the rest of you. Try to avoid crazy patterned socks if you can. You'll be amazed what the camera picks up and how quickly people are to comment on Twitter;
Short skirts: Women should avoid short skirts or low cut blouses. Opt for a high-scoop neckline for up-close camera shots;
Bushy Beards: Men should avoid the three-day growth and tidy up bushy beards. Dark facial hair particularly starts to shadow as the day progresses, so think about having a shave before appearing on camera. You’ll look more professional in those close up shots.
Finally, remember to dress for the occasion. It can be off-putting to see a rescue worker at a disaster scene wearing a suit and tie, just as it would be wrong for a corporate executive to appear wearing a t-shirt and thongs at a press conference.