What To Wear for Photo, TV and Video Appearances

Creating a good on-camera presence isn't hard, but it takes a little planning

Camera Shoot
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If you're going to be interviewed on television, once you've gotten past the butterflies in your stomach, it's important to think about what you're going to wear. While the camera may not actually add 10 pounds, as the old adage goes, an outfit that looks flattering in person may not translate well on television.

Despite what your instinct might tell you, don't plan to dress exactly the same way you would for a business meeting or a conference.

 

Here are a few tips to make sure your television appearance gets you noticed, and in a good way

Do a Little Research About the Show

If you know what show you're going to be on and time permits, watch the show to see how the hosts and other guests are dressed. You don't want to show up for a panel discussion on business issues dressed in a ball gown or a tuxedo. Will you be standing, behind a desk, or seated in a chair? Will you be outside? Learn the specifics before you arrive at the television studio.

Clothes and Colors to Avoid

Avoid wearing stripes or other patterns on air, if at all possible. Striped clothing may create a weird optical effect called a moire pattern, where competing patterns compete with each other for visual dominance. 
Don't wear all black or all white. Even though black is slimming, neutral tones like gray or light pastels like lilac or blue are good options. The camera will boost the contrast.

White is a bad choice because it can be too visually overwhelming and "blind" the viewer.

One color you should absolutely stay away from for a television appearance: green. Many special effects, such as weather and traffic maps, are projected on what's called a green screen. If you're wearing green and these effects are being used, you'll blend into the background.

 

Don't wear flashy or dangly jewelry, and if you wear contacts or glasses, stick with contacts if you can. Sometimes glasses can reflect the glare from television studio lights.

How to Choose Your On-Camera Outfit

Make sure your clothes are comfortable. Don't pick a suit you hate to wear because you think it looks great. If you're uncomfortable, it'll show on your face and in your body language. 

Wear knee-length socks if you're wearing pants. If you don't, skin might show when you cross your legs. Apply this same principle to skirts: If it's too short, it may appear awkward on camera, especially if you're seated.

Since high-definition televisions are the norm, you'll want to wear makeup to hide undereye circles or flaws in your complexion. But try to find that happy medium; you don't want to slather on too much makeup and look like you're headed for the circus. As with your clothing, stick to neutral, muted shades for eye and lip makeup. 

What to Bring to the Television Studio

Bring a couple different sets of clothes, if possible, or at least a different suit jacket or sweater. It's a little awkward to show up at the studio wearing the same outfit as the on-air host. It's great to have a backup outfit available.

 

While you don't want to fuss with hair and makeup too much, it's not a bad idea to bring a comb or brush for a quick touch-up. And you might want to bring a handkerchief or some tissues. The lights are hot and chances are good you may sweat a little, especially if you're nervous. 

Bring a bag -- or a trusted person -- to hold your wallet, cell phone and car keys. You don't want anything in your pockets that might create a bulge, or be uncomfortable when you sit down (or worse, a phone that rings in the middle of a shoot).

How to Behave on Camera

It's OK to be nervous, but try to keep your cool and act naturally.

Two common mistakes people make on television are smiling the entire time or freezing up. Remember why you're there and what you're planning to say.  Take a few deep breaths before the camera starts rolling to help you focus.

Use smaller gestures, and ideally, avoid waving your hands or gesticulating at all. If you have to, keep your hands folded tightly in your lap. Assume you'll be in close-up the whole time because you usually will. And try to avoid touching your face because it looks odd on camera. 

If time permits, do a practice run the day before and try to eliminate any "ums" and "uhs" from your planned remarks.

As part of your preparation, put on the outfit you plan to wear and have a friend film you while asking questions. It doesn't have to be anything elaborate, a smartphone video will do just fine.

The goal is to let you see how you appear on camera and help you notice things like facial expressions or other features. Some behaviors you'll want to enhance; others you'll probably want to tone down.