Production | 10 MIN READ

13 Tips For What To Wear On Camera

Four images of people dressed for a video interview.

WHEN DRESSING FOR THE CAMERA, IT’S IMPORTANT TO KEEP A FEW THINGS IN MIND. ONE: THE VIEWER SHOULD BE FOCUSED ON WHAT YOU’RE SAYING AND NOT ON DISTRACTING OR LOUD ATTIRE. TWO: YOUR OUTFIT SHOULD BE APPROPRIATE TO YOUR ROLE IN THE STORY. FOR INSTANCE, A ROCK CLIMBER SHOULDN’T WEAR A SUIT AND A CEO SHOULDN’T LOOK LIKE A ROCK CLIMBER (UNLESS IT’S PART OF THE STORY). THAT IN MIND, ALWAYS BE TRUE TO YOURSELF. HERE ARE SOME TIPS.

1. Always bring multiple options to the interview: You could get coffee on your tie. Maybe the colors aren’t jiving with the camera or clash with another person. There are many reasons to have a back up or alternate option just in case. There’s a lot of time/money spent into a film, commercial, corporate video, etc… and at the very least, have a few options to ensure a smooth day.

2. Wear flattering colors near your face: Pastels, purples and browns are good. Blue is one of the best colors for TV. Green is risky, especially if there will be a green screen.

3. Be careful how you wear black: Through a camera lens, black tends to absorb much of the light around it, making details less visible. Black and very dark colors are usually okay when worn on the lower half of the body. If you must wear black near the face, you can wear a colored jacket or sweater so less black is visible. Or add a colored scarf (avoid neon colors).

4. Avoid bright white: White tends to dominate the screen, and like neon and bright colors, should be avoided. A better choice: not-quite-white colors like light beige, light gray and very pale colors may work better.

5. Avoid wearing bright red (or orange): Red tends to look orange to the camera. A better choice would be burgundy or maroon. In the warmer range, try coral.

6. Avoid herringbones, plaids, checks and especially stripes: Large ones are distracting, and small ones can dance around the screen, creating rivers and waviness (moiré pattern).

7. Jewelry: Keep jewelry to a minimum, especially earrings. A necklace can add a colorful or contrasting accent, but it shouldn’t be noisy, or too flashy or reflective. If it rubs against your microphone causing unwanted noise, get rid of it. Don’t wear jangly bracelets or large dangling earrings. Wear only one ring on each hand, and don’t wear multiple necklaces.

8. Solid colors are best: Large, bright patterns and prints are distracting and can draw attention away from your message. Avoid them. Muted or subdued patterns are generally okay.

9. Be pressed and wrinkle-free: Stick to wrinkle-free fabrics, or (especially for men) have your shirts professionally pressed. Dress as if you were going to a job interview (appropriate to the subject you will be talking about). Naturally, if your subject is outdoorsy or very casual, you should adjust what you wear accordingly. This is a good place to mention blue jeans: they should be worn sparingly, never ripped or torn, and only when appropriate to your occupation, shoot location, or subject matter. Again for men: Much of the time, a nice shirt (tucked in) and a pair of well-fitting pants (with belt), dark socks and decent shoes, is all you will need.

10. Men in suits: If you are wearing a suit, Make sure about 1-inch of your shirt cuff is showing, and wear over-the-calf socks in case you cross your legs. No leg skin should ever show. Your suit should fit correctly.

11. Women in skirts: All one color, matching skirt and jacket for women—nice, do it. Avoid skirts and dresses that are too short. This is one I know from experience, so I will tell you my story: I had a TV interview, and wore what I thought was a conservative-length skirt, which it was, while I was standing up. But the armchair on the set worked the skirt up during the shoot without my noticing. It appeared on screen as though I were wearing a mini-skirt (not my intention). A little leg is nice, but it is important to stay age-appropriate. Bring along a change if you have doubts.

12. Style: Stay subdued, even boring. Don’t make a fashion statement unless you are an artist, fashion designer, or are wearing traditional garb, things of that nature. You want the audience to focus on what you have to say. Men: Don’t dress in all dark colors (or with a stuffy vest unless you’re English—and a professor). You don’t want to look like a mafia hit man, or one of the Blues Brothers (i.e. ties: keep them current and moderate).

13. Logos: The only logo or brand you should be wearing is your own, if you have one. It goes without saying, that you should not wear t-shirts with phrases or logos. (In most cases, you shouldn’t be wearing a t-shirt at all).

Bonus Tip—hair, makeup, and eyeglasses: This applies to both men and women. For the ladies, if you never wear makeup, consider at least a light, matte, powder foundation, a touch of mascara and some lipstick. If you usually wear makeup, do your normal, stepping-out-of-the-house routine, use a little blush, and be sure to check yourself in the mirror before going on air. This is not the time to try out a new hairstyle, just make sure you are neatly groomed. For the men, a light powder on the face will reduce shine—as far up the forehead as is necessary.

Darren Durlach

About Darren Durlach

Darren is a film director and co-founder of Early Light Media, a video production agency based in Baltimore. He enjoys writing about storytelling, filmmaking, and video marketing to help organizations communicate more effectively with their audiences.

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