Men: What to Wear on TV/Video

Some do’s and don’ts:

  • Suits: Avoid suits with stripes, checks or small patterns. Medium-tone grey, blue, brown or mixed colours are best. If you wear a black or dark blue suit avoid light-coloured accessories. Don’t wear anything you wouldn’t wear at the office, no matter what the interviewer is wearing. If you feel silly, you’ll look silly and the audience will not take you or your message seriously.
  • Shirts: Grey or light blue shirts work best. Off-white or pastel colours are also good. Pure white shirts may cause technical problems with the light balance of older cameras, so they should be avoided.
  • Haircuts: Don’t get one right before your television appearance. Haircuts take a few days to settle in. If you trust your barber will not get carried away, get a light trim or razor cut.
  • Neckties: Muted colours are preferable. Avoid checks or very small patterns (the patterns drive some video cams crazy). Bow ties have a tendency to move when you speak so, unless it makes you feel ill at ease or it’s your “brand,” wear a regular tie. Also, make sure your tie is snug up to your collar and not loosened.
  • Microphone: Attach the lavalier microphone to your lapel, not to your tie.
  • Socks: Wear longer over-the-calf length socks so that when you cross your legs there will be an unbroken line of colour from your pants to your socks. Nothing looks worse than bare legs except perhaps with white socks. Match the colour of your socks to your suits or pants.
  • Shoes: We shouldn’t see them. Keep your feet on the floor and don’t fold your legs such that so your shoe bottoms show.
  • Handkerchiefs: If you must wear a pocket-handkerchief, make sure it is fresh and unwrinkled. Avoid pure white breast pocket handkerchiefs. Muted colours or off-white are recommended. Fold neatly.
  • Jewellery: Avoid large, flashy tie clasps, cuff links, chains, etc. because they flare and distort the picture.
  • Make-Up: The best make-up for men is having a deep tan; if you don’t have one follow the advice of the make-up person. If one is not available to help you, just dust your face lightly with powder to reduce shine from the lights. A shiny face indicates a nervous speaker and will detract from your credibility.
  • Glasses: Avoid heavy, dark frames. Your frames should not interfere with the audience’s view of your face. Never wear dark glasses for a speaking engagement; the audience will wonder what you are hiding or what’s wrong with your eyes. They’ll be so busy trying to figure out the problem that they’ll forget to listen to what you’re saying.
  • Pockets: Empty your pockets of loose change to avoid the temptation of putting your hands in your pockets and jangling the change.
  • BlackBerry and Phones: Leave your BB and other devices somewhere off to the side. The BB will make a buzzing sound that electronically interferes with audio equipment and other phones will make a distracting noise even if set to vibrate.

And, finally, a nice little tip from the 1987 comedic movie Broadcast News… sit gently on the back of your suit jacket and it will help pull your suit shoulder tight across the top, giving you a nice crisp straight line.

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