My first time on TV, no one told me not to wear busy designs with lots of color. I wore my most stunning spring suit and it danced around the screen hypnotically (and distractingly) when I appeared on ABC World News with Peter Jennings. Of course, I should have asked…or researched. Sigh.
I was never able to use that footage as a sample interview, not because I spoke poorly, but because I looked like a complete amateur by the way I dressed.
Those were the days before the internet, when you actually had to call people to find out such information. But just in case, like me, you haven’t thought to ask the question, I’m bringing it up for discussion.
Maybe you’ve already appeared on TV, maybe your book is coming out and you’re preparing for the big day, or maybe you’re working on building your platform and you realize it’s best to start right away–maybe even by appearing on some local cable stations to get your feet wet.
Whatever stage you’re in, it’s time to do your research and learn how to dress for TV. There are more caveats to be aware of than just dizzying fabric design.
I asked my friend and writing coaching client, Chris Fulkerson, a professional image consultant extraordinaire, to provide her top tips for dressing for TV.
Says Chris, “Once you’ve defined your key message and practiced answering possible interview questions, you need to answer the most important question of all – what will you wear?”
As a professional image consultant, Chris has seen many people improve their credibility and image by selecting clothing that properly fits, is in their best colors, expresses their personality, and enhances their figure. A television appearance is no different.
Chris points out that, “When we look at someone for the first time we look at clothing first and face second. Studies have shown that we evaluate each other in two seconds and less. Keep that in mind and follow these tips when getting dressed for your television interview:
1. If you are not familiar with the television station, phone them and ask what color background is used in the studio. You wouldn’t want to show up wearing blue if they have a blue background, you’ll blend in and not stand out.
2. Your makeup, wardrobe, and hair should be consistent with your message. If your message is conservative, a suit would be best. If your message is fun and informal, wear a sweater.
3. Because of the studio lighting, studios are kept cool. When the lights hit you, you could warm up quickly. If you perspire easily, consider wearing dress shields.
4. Solid colors are best. Avoid black, white or red and avoid print, plaid or checked clothing. They can affect video quality.
5. Select matte fabrics. Men should avoid shiny print ties.
6. If wearing a suit, carry your jacket into the interview so it is not wrinkled. Shorter jackets for women work best since the fabric doesn’t fold at the hips.
7. A lapel microphone and transmitter (the size of a pack of cigarettes) should easily attach to the outfit you selected.
8. Avoid ruffles, slit skirts that need to be held closed when seated, jeweled tie tacks, and any flashy jewelry that reflects light.
9. Avoid anything that could jingle such as jewelry or buttons. The noise will be picked up by your microphone.
10. Men should wear matching knee-length socks and shoes that complement the suit color.
11. The television cameras can make you look weightier than you really are. If you want to
appear thinner wear darker colors with simple lines.
12. Remove coins from your pockets, leave your cell phone in the car, swallow your gum, stay hydrated, and don’t walk on the set with a pen in your hand.
Chris’s final advice? “Before leaving the house, sit in your outfit in front of a full length mirror. Do you feel comfortable, confident, and happy with what you see? Do you have good posture? Double check your hair and makeup then don’t forget your best accessory – your smile! I’ll be watching you.”