What Not to Wear: A Guide to Choosing the Right Look for Your TV Appearance

Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

When it comes to TV appearances, whether you’re an author, speaker, or subject matter expert, you’ve got to look the part. “Looking the part” is essential and what you wear – or don’t wear – will make an impression on viewers. You want them to take you seriously but ironically, you want your clothes and accessories to be totally forgettable. So what should you avoid wearing when appearing on camera? Let’s break down some of the “no-nos” you should steer clear of before your next media appearance. 

Uncomfortable or Ill-Fitting Clothing 

Have you ever thrown on something from your closet and then spent the whole day tugging and pulling at it? Ill-fitting or uncomfortable clothing is distracting both for you and for viewers. When choosing an outfit for your media appearance, be sure to stand up, sit down, walk around, and even cross your legs in front of a mirror so you can make sure everything fits properly, without gapping or pinching. And remember: too big is as bad as too small! 

Super Trendy Items

It’s important to dress for the times. But remember that trends come and go quickly so don’t put too much emphasis on them when preparing for your media appearance. Stick with timeless pieces that won’t look dated within months—like classic blazers—so your style will stay relevant no matter how long ago the footage was shot!

Stripes, Big Patterns and Tiny Prints 

Again, you want people to focus on you and not your clothes. Big patterns and bold stripes look very different on camera than they do in your mirror at home – so that’s where they should stay. Tiny, busy prints and repetitive, tight patterns like pinstripes are also no-nos because of something called the moiré effect. The moiré effect makes certain patterns appear to strobe and dance. No bueno! Solid colors are almost always a better choice.

Worn or Scuffed Shoes 

This applies only to appearances that feature a full-body shot. As we all learned when we began working from home in early 2020, it doesn’t matter what you wear on the bottom if the camera only shows the top. But as a general rule, make sure you’re ready from head to toe! 

Jangly Jewelry 

Even if long, dangly earrings are your thing, they don’t need to be on TV with you. They’re distracting as they move around when you talk and they can catch the light in ways that take the focus off what you’re saying. Jangly bracelets are also a problem because they can actually interfere with your mic. Make sure your message – not your jewelry – is center stage!

Messy Hairdos

If you’re a literal rockstar, go for it. If not, it’s probably best to keep your hair neat and unremarkable. 

Anything You’ve Worn on TV Before 

This may not be your first rodeo. And if your first carefully-chosen outfit was a hit, you may be tempted to repeat it. Don’t! If you’ve worn something in a previous appearance, it’s best not to wear it again, no matter how well it worked the first time. An easy fix for this is making a note of what you wear any time you’re on TV. It can be as simple as taking a full-body selfie and plopping it in a folder on your phone called “TV outfits” or something like that. 

Your clothes are an important part of making a good impression in any media appearance so it pays to get it right! Remember to choose an outfit that’s appropriate for your industry but isn’t too formal, make sure everything fits, and go for materials that won’t show up looking wrinkled under studio lighting. With these tips in mind, you can present yourself confidently in front of cameras, knowing viewers will focus on what you have to say rather than what you’re wearing! 

If one of your goals is getting exposure on national TV, get in touch with us at Guarisco Group to see if it’s a fit! Our clients are the top legal analysts, political strategists, authors, and experts from business, health and medicine, pop culture, and entertainment that you see in national media every day. From the initial pitch to the final interview, we walk beside our clients every step of the way.