How to dress for a TV appearance

What to wear for a TV appearance

Are you preparing for your first on-camera experience? Congratulations! This is an excellent opportunity to share your message and expertise with a new audience on-air and online. Worried about how to dress for that TV appearance? Don’t be—You’ve got a former news anchor in your corner. I have a decade of experience dressing for the camera and am eager to share a few pointers.

Part of my role in morning news involved booking, coordinating and planning guest interviews and TV appearances. Can you guess our visitors’ most frequently asked question?

Yup, you got it… “What should I wear?”

It is an important query, as dressing for TV is not the same as dressing for a job interview or other business functions. The old adage “the camera adds 10 pounds” is a bit of a stretch, but the wrong outfit on television certainly could! Keep in mind, apparel that looks great in person might not work well on camera. Consequently, you need to know the TV rules of thumb.

Whether you are appearing on behalf of a non-profit, a business, as a topical expert, or as a public information officer, it’s completely natural to be nervous about your first TV appearance. However, with a little practice, a brave face and some insider information about attire, you can hit this one out of the park!

how to dress for TVDress (Also in Navy) | Clutch | Similar Heels


Dressing for a TV appearance: The Don’ts 


  • Don’t wear black or white. They appear harsh on camera and will wash you out.
  • Avoid busy patterns, especially narrow stripes. They are distracting and will distort/wave on camera.
  • Baggy, loose styles are a no-no. They add weight and will look messy, especially during a seated segment.
  • Keep over-sized baubles and bangles at home. Simple jewelry is best. In addition, make sure it isn’t loud—I mean this literally. Dangling metal earrings + sensitive TV microphones can make it sound like Santa’s sleigh is on the way.
  • Don’t go sleeveless in winter. I know you see anchors wearing sleeveless all the time, but it draws viewer complaints. The best rule of thumb is to dress to match the weather in your area. Furthermore, consider that the camera can make arms look wider.
  • No cleavage or short skirts/dresses. Do the sit test! You may be surprised how a seemingly modest hemline can change to racy during a seated interview.
  • Don’t try to be too trendy. The goal is to be modern, yet restrained. Your message, not your fashion should be the focus. Exaggerated styles—like ruffles—may be beautiful in person, but can look silly on camera. I once purchased a gorgeous purple blouse with artistic ruffles around the collar. It was stunning in person; however, I looked like I was ready to join the Barnum & Bailey circus on TV.

Dressing for a TV appearance: The Do’s


  • Seek out bold, solid colors. Saturated jewel tones look gorgeous on everyone and never go out of style. My personal favorites are sapphire blue, emerald and amethyst shades.
  • Go for tailored, not tight. You want your clothing to skim your body gracefully, without distracting creases or lines. In general, my TV wardrobe is more bodycon (aka slim fitting) than my day-to-day attire. However, I certainly don’t want to look like I am squeezing into my clothing. A tailored sheath dress with long or 3/4 length sleeves is especially flattering on television, as is a classic wrap dress. In addition, a beautiful blouse/skirt combo or suit is always safe bet.
  • Inject style with simple detailing. Hunt for sophisticated styles with decorative touches around the neckline, waist or sleeves. A slight ruffle cuff, belt or peplum can add interest. This dress (pictured above) is one of my current on-air favorites. It’s a simple style, but the cuffs keep it interesting and the color really pops on set.
  • Be mindful of your undergarments. I wear often wear Spanx tights or shapewear when I don an unlined dress or one with thinner fabric. It’s a must for combating embarrassing panty or bra lines.
  • Wear makeup. I’m all for a natural look in real life, but studio lights and HD cameras are really bright. Makeup helps define your features and avoid a ghost-like look. You’ll want natural looking lip color, blush and eye shadow/liner. Also, don’t forget about your brows.
  • Use a lint brush and hair spray. Stray hairs and lint do show up with HD cameras, so impeccable grooming is key! If you need additional guidance on TV-ready hair, I have a tutorial here.

This video montage from my news days will give you an idea of some of the styles that work well for TV appearances. You’ll also notice one that didn’t—the dark green floral dress. It was cute in person, but didn’t translate on camera. After all, it is a learning process!

Final Tips…

  • Take note of the setting. Where will your interview occur? In studio? In the field? At your place of work? Sitting/standing? What does the set backdrop look like? What do the anchors/hosts usually wear?

All of these questions should impact your outfit choice. You want to select a color that will stand out from the set, but remain complementary. For example: If the studio has a blue background, avoid blues and opt for pinks, purples or yellow instead.

  • Bring a back-up outfit. It’s always good to be prepared! You never know when a spill or accident might happen. In addition, you might show up matching the anchor. It’s nice to have the ability to change.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. When communicating with your point person before your segment—be it a producer or an anchor—don’t hesitate to ask for additional information about the interview format, set or proper attire. Just like you, we want the segment to go well and are happy to help.

Good luck, enjoy yourself and please feel free to shoot me any questions you have.

—-Lindsay

Need attire suggestions? Here are a few other TV-friendly options in my closet & related posts.

Shop like a news anchor: How we save big on clothing

Amazon dresses: 5 things to know BEFORE you buy

 

 

 

7 COMMENTS

  1. Jenny Anderson | 29th May 18

    All great tips! I’ve always loved jewel tones. I still get this question about what to wear from people who want to know what to wear for on-camera work with state training videos and PSAs.

    • laveremis | 30th May 18

      Thanks Jenny, same here. It comes up every time I am preparing Purdue employees for TV interviews, so I thought this might be helpful. Your state workers are lucky to have you as a reference!

  2. Yes, you CAN wear white: 4 lies about white clothing - Anchored In Elegance | 24th Aug 18

    […] worked with as a news anchor told us to avoid white because harsh studio lighting can make it glow (you can read more about dressing for TV here). I incorrectly assumed white would wash out my complexion off-camera as well. In reality, white […]

  3. Katerina | 1st Oct 18

    Dear Lindsay, thank you for the useful information. I’m a designer dress for important occasions and I recommend their dresses for performances on TV. EKAview.etsy.com In your opinion, are my dresses really suitable for this purpose or am I wrong? You are an expert and your evaluation is important to me.
    Thank you!

    • laveremis | 3rd Oct 18

      Hi Katerina, I just took a look at your website and find your designs to be exceptionally beautiful. What a talent you have! Yes, I would agree that some of your pieces would work quite well for on-camera work. Specifically, the dark green party dress would be great for television.

  4. Катерина | 4th Oct 18

    Hi Lindsay, thank you very much for your reply. The opinion of a professional is very important to me. I totally agree with you about the dark green dress. I believe that a few more of my dresses, for example, dark gray dress with bright flounces, are also suitable for our tasks. See you on instagram!!!

  5. What to wear for a presentation: A style guide - Anchored In Elegance | 16th Nov 18

    […] onerous as you might think! You just need the golden rules and a few insider tips. So, allow this former news anchor to help you out. I’m going to walk you through my public appearance playbook, using my good […]

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *