Have you ever watched the weather forecast on TV and realised the only thing you’ve clocked by the end is the presenter’s tie or dress? You don’t have a clue whether you’re in for sunshine or storms, but you know purple is just not their colour….
The same fate can befall a media interviewee – they sit up all night preparing their key messages and then no-one “hears” them when they appear on screen, because the audience is far too distracted by their weird tie/earrings/jacket.
So what should you wear to ensure viewers focus on your words, not your wardrobe?
– dress in what you’re used to wearing. It’s tempting to don something new for your big TV moment, only to find the collar is too tight, the jacket would challenge an escape artist, the zip jams, or your trousers hang so low, you look like a rap artist.
– avoid stripes. The narrower they are, the more they can “strobe”, just like small checks.
– bring spares. Sod’s Law of the Green Room dictates your shaking hand will lead to a spilt espresso on your pristine trousers seconds before your interview.
– opt for pastel shirts (blue, pink or green) instead of a white one, as it can be too stark or mean you blend into the background if that too is white. Avoid black as well – it absorbs light and makes the rest of you look too pale.
– unless you work for Disney, ditch the Donald Duck tie, or any other “humorous” neck attire. The joke will only be on you. (On second thoughts, ditch it even if you do work for Disney…)
– keep everything simple and relatively plain. Anything too jazzy or lively will distract the audience and possibly make them think you’re wearing it for a bet. It’s not one you’ll win.
– avoid anything metallic such as tie-clips, bracelets, cuff-links or chunky stainless steel watch straps – they might reflect off studio lights. (They can also create unwanted noise against a microphone or clunk against a desk.)
– avoid short sleeves or bare arms – they’re generally too casual and you know what they say about the camera adding pounds…
– keep jewellery to a minimum. We’ll all have a view on that bracelet/necklace and won’t care about your words.
– finally, it’s not strictly a wardrobe matter, but keep your hair well away from your face. You’ll either find yourself flicking it constantly or will be peering through it like a pair of curtains; either way, it will annoy the hell out of the audience and possibly you.
It’s all very straightforward: don’t dress to distract, dress to impress…through your words.