What to Wear for Appearances and Headshots
If you work in the corporate arena, chances are that you will need to take a business headshot, give an in-house presentation, or make a public appearance at some point in time. When those occasions do pop up, it’s important to think about your outfit in terms of your audience and environment as well as your personal image and figure. Take a look at these tips that will help you get attention, hold interest, and even sway emotions.
#1 Avoid Black and White
Casting directors for film and television almost always say to wear color (unless black or white is specifically necessary for exposition). This is because black and white mess with the white balance and contrast of a camera - so if you’re going to be filmed, those colors might trick the camera into either blowing out your face or enshrouding your body in inky darkness. Even if you won’t be filmed or photographed, black makes you disappear like a ninja, and white tends to reflect the other colors around you, turning into an icky pastel version of something that probably doesn’t flatter you anyway (see example below). Keep control of your complexion and avoid black and white.
#2 Avoid Busy & Distracting Patterns
Have you ever looked at a striped shirt and thought the lines were moving? Or looked at a spiral pattern and felt as if it were spinning? These optical illusions happen on clothing, too. Small patterns seen on camera may seem to vibrate and move - and that can be really distracting. You want your audience completely focused on your message, so don’t give them anything else to wonder or worry about.
#3 Contrast the Backdrop
Just like a ninja disappears into the shadows, so will your red dress disappear into a red curtain - or red carpet! Find out what your appearance venue or photography backdrop will be, take note of the colors that will be placed behind you, and choose one of your flattering signature colors that most closely opposes your backdrop on the color wheel. For example, say your presentation takes place in a wood-paneled board room. The directly opposing color is cobalt blue, but you don’t own any cobalt and look hideous in tones that cool. No problem! Just pull out the bluest thing you own - maybe it’s purple, maybe it’s aqua, whatever. You just want enough of a pop against the warmth of the wood to help you stand out and keep eyes fixed on you. If you are unable to reconnoiter your backdrop, bring 2-3 options with you and arrive early enough to make your decision on location.
#4 Consider Your Message/Goals/Audience/Mood
Looking fabulous in neon green is one thing, but wearing lime green for your talk on Mortuary Services doesn’t seem appropriate, does it? If mood is important to your business or presentation, take the extra step to consider that when choosing your colors. Instead of lime green maybe you would alter your look to include olive or forest green. Conversely, if you want to zap some excitement into a room of bored elementary school students, maybe you do choose to stick to one of your brighter colors. Or if your company brands itself as the most trustworthy around, you might choose blue-green instead of regular green. Here’s a helpful chart relating mood to color.
#5 Plan for your Posture
This is especially important if you will be speaking as part of a panel! Definitely find out if you will be sitting or standing during your appearance - not just for comfort, but also for flattery. Nothing is worse than being photographed with your skirt riding up or your belling hanging over your belt because you hadn’t planned on sitting. If you do need to sit, do a sit test in front of the mirror at home, and make sure you won’t flash anyone the goods. Also note whether you might need to wear looser slacks, a tie tack, or anything else that will help you feel more comfortable, confident, and put-together while you sit.
In summary: minimal pattern, targeted color, and comfortable fit are the name of the game. Use these easy principles as a jumping-off point for choosing your outfits, and your appearance will be so much more effective than if you chose the ubiquitous black and white business look. Now get out there and be seen!