Baby boomers have interesting vocations, avocations, passions and pursuits—and they have a lot to say about these things. For those who are in the public eye, coaching, speaking, or in business, you’ll need to know these 13 tips on what to wear for a TV or video interview. I’m referring primarily to local and cable channel interviews. National TV may have fewer color restrictions, as they use the latest, high-end cameras, but common sense and good taste apply to both venues. There are pointers here for both men and women, and they can all be applies to any age group.
You’ll be excited when you get “the call,” but there will be less stress on you if you are free to focus on what you plan to say, rather than what you will wear. Tack this sheet inside the door of your closet for easy reference. If you have this list, and a game plan, you won’t make any big mistakes. .
1. Always bring an alternate set of clothes to the interview: Things happen. For example, you arrive at the interview and find that you are wearing a color that won’t work with the set, or doesn’t look right on camera (only applies if you are taping in advance). A thousand things can happen to upset your well-though-out choice of apparel. (Haven't worn it for a while? Try it on, make sure it fits.)
2. Wear flattering colors near your face: Pastels, purples and browns are good. Blue is one of the best and safest colors for TV. Green is risky. Ask if they will be using a green screen. If so, choose another color. If you don't know, don't wear it.
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. With a black background, a guest wearing black can look like a “floating head.” Black and very dark colors are usually okay when worn on the lower half of the body, such as a skirt or pants. If for some reason, you must wear black near the face, (i.e., a shirt) you can wear a colored jacket or sweater over it so less of the black is visible. Another thing to do if wearing very dark colors: Add a colored scarf (avoid neon colors). This contrasting addition of color can also be accomplished with a piece of jewelry.
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. It’s softer, pinker.
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. You’ll be glad you did.
Tip the bows of your eyeglasses slightly up behind your ears to reduce glare from the lights. If you are on camera frequently and prefer to wear your glasses, invest in a glare-proof pair.