The phrase “dress for success” never meant as much as it does when you are preparing to go before the cruel eye of the TV camera. Not only does the camera make you look heavier, it can make you look pasty-faced and like a poor dresser, too. Follow these 6 simple tips, and you’ll be looking your finest for your star turn under the Klieg lights.
- What to wear. A suit or well-tailored dress looks the most professional on TV. Colors to avoid are red, white or black. Colors that look best are pastels like soft yellow, peach, blues, pinks, or strong colors like magenta, green and royal blue. No herringbone, busy prints or tight patterns, large flowers, frills or geometric shapes.
- Skirts. Do not wear short skirts that can ride up when you sit down – a low camera angle could make you a YouTube sensation before you get home. Skirts should cover the knee.
- Bling. Wear small, delicate jewelry that is not flashy and distracting. Small earrings and a simple necklace look good. Bracelets are not good if they clang because the mic picks up the noise. Glasses can be worn, but avoid shiny frames, and tilt them slightly up off your ears to reduce reflection off the lenses. If you do a lot of TV, look for glare-free glasses.
- Footwear. Wear closed shoes, not open-toed, and stockings should be dark (black, off-black, navy) not nude or beige, unless, of course, the shoes are light-colored.
- Makeup. Not optional – looking pale, mottled or shiny doesn’t cut it in the age of hi-def TV. Since TV lighting washes the color out of your face (and makes you sweat), you may want to choose a base or foundation one or two shades darker than your natural skin tone. If you need to lighten or even skin tones, stick to one or two shades lighter. Be sure to apply to face, ears and neck. You do not want to appear two different colors. Your lipstick, eyeliner, eye shadow (dry powder or cake-type) and powder rouge should all be accentuated more than you would for street wear. Colors are your choice, but stay away from bright blue eye shadow and garish lipstick. Follow this link if you want to see the 25-minute, full-blown superstar TV makeup tutorial.
- Hair. Should be neatly styled, off the face and sprayed in place – you don’t want to be pushing it out of your eyes during the interview.
- What to wear. A dark blue or gray suit/jacket looks best; a subtle pin stripe is fine, but no herringbone or tight patterns. Black can make your arms disappear into your body, giving you the blob effect. Double-breasted jackets should always remain buttoned; single-breasted can be unbuttoned if they lay better that way. Sitting on the bottom of your jacket will help keep it from riding up and making you look hunched over.
- Shirts & Ties. Plain blue, pale yellow or pink and off white shirts work best. Solid ties are best, but a simple wide stripe is fine. No thin stripes or busy prints. And only a few people can pull off the bow tie with dignity.
- Bling. As with women, subtlety rules – no big diamond earrings, huge pinky rings or jangly bracelets. Glasses that look best on TV are either tortoise shell, rimless or have very thin wire rims. Your glasses should be tilted up off the ears slightly to reduce glare from the lenses. If you do a lot of TV, look for glare-free glasses.
- Footwear. Socks should go to your knee so if you cross your leg, TV-land doesn’t see hair and skin. Socks and shoes should be dark. Shoes should be well shined with clean, intact soles.
- Makeup. Not optional, guys. If the TV studio does not put makeup on you, you should apply it yourself. TV lighting will make you sweat, look hung-over and highlight your
5-o’clock shadow and giant, guy pores. To combat all of these, get yourself a combination pancake and powder finish product that will keep your face from shining and even out your skin coloration. The color should be close to your natural skin tone or one to two shades darker. Bring the makeup down your neck, covering your whole face, ears and any bald spots. Every bit of skin that shows should be covered so you are not two colors. If you’re bald, dust the dome with makeup, too.
- Hair. Hair should be neat (preferably held in place with a touch of spray or gel) and beards and mustaches should be well trimmed and free of food.
Bonus tips: Always look in the mirror just before going on set to make sure nothing is awry, e.g., you’ve got spinach in your teeth or your nose is boasting a little dangly thing. As Rosanne Rosannadana noted so wonderfully on Saturday Night Live many years ago, the audience will not hear one word you have to say if they can’t take their eyes off the thing in your nose. Once on set, sit forward in your chair – this gives you a nice straight posture – and lean slightly toward the camera.
With a little face paint and wardrobe work, you will be ready for your 15 minutes of television fame – each time you get it.
Food for thought—
“To this day, I don’t like people walking on the stage not looking good. You have to look good. If you feel special about yourself, then you’re going to play special.” —Benny Goodman