What (Not) to Wear: TV Interviews

September 11, 2018

So you just agreed to do a TV interview in an area of your expertise. You're prepared and ready for your interview. But what do you wear?

This is a question we often get—and the answer is: Wear what feels comfortable to you! The more comfortable you feel, the more confident you'll look in the interview. So while we can't tell you exactly what to wear to boost your confidence, here are a handful of tips to consider as you choose your wardrobe:

  1. The most important one is to remember that people should be paying attention to your face and what you're saying, and not what you're wearing. Try to make sure your clothes don't steal the show from your expertise.
  2. Small patterns and designs such as stripes or herringbone can cause an optical effect called a moire pattern, which causes the illusion of movement or vibration on camera. The moire effect is seen when an object being photographed or filmed contains repetitive details, such as lines or dots that are close together. As the camera picks up that pattern along with the pattern of the imaging chip of the camera, it creates a third wavy pattern as seen below:
    The moire effect
    Credit: Wikimedia
  3. Although this is less of a problem now, it is best to avoid wearing all black or all white on camera. These colors may seem like the safest bet, but in reality, TV camera operators set their lighting range on both the brightest and darkest objects in the room. If your clothing is one of these colors, it can make you look either over- or under lit. Both are unflattering. Pastels, navy blue and cream are good alternatives if you have the option.
  4. Avoid wearing long dangly earrings or chunky necklaces that make noise as you're speaking, as the sound could be picked up by your microphone and distract from what you're saying.
  5. Don't worry if you wear glasses—they can stay on because the camera operator will adjust the shot to avoid glare if possible. If you take your glasses off before an interview, check to make sure you don't have indents on the bridge of your nose.
  6. If you have a work 'uniform' that connects to your role, or any branded clothing representing your organization, feel comfortable wearing that on camera. Some examples: a lab coat, a police uniform of polo with a logo.
  7. Look at your hair, forehead and face in the mirror before you begin the interview to see if you are too shiny and to ensure that you don't have flyaway hairs or hair that will block your face mid-interview.
  8. Consider your posture—sit or stand up straight, smile and relax a little! This will show that you are engaged and interested in the conversation.

Many experts who do media interviews regularly have a TV-ready change of clothes in their office or car just in case they get the call. If you feel this is a possibility for you, it's always good to have a spare outfit prepared.

If you have any other questions, feel free to reach out to the University Public Relations team at unews@umn.edu.