What should you wear on camera?
Do you dread the camera lens? You’re not alone!
For most of us, finding ourselves in front of a video camera is a daunting experience.
When you know what to wear on camera – and what not to wear – you’ll feel a teeny bit more confident.
Looking your best doesn’t happen by accident. And it only takes a little planning to understand discover what to wear, the best colours and the patterns to avoid.
Let’s get you camera-ready!
Understanding the video camera’s perspective
Cameras don’t mirror our human perception, instead, they flatten a three-dimensional world into two-dimensions.
What does this mean for how you look on camera?
Because of this flattening effect, certain aspects of your appearance, such as the contours of your face and body, may appear slightly different on camera than they do in reality.
So if you think you look ‘different’ or ‘strange’ when you see yourself in videos or images, this is why.
The trick here, is learning how to adapt your clothing and styling to suit this altered perspective, enhancing your appearance on camera.
Fabrics and textures
- As a rule of thumb, choose matte fabrics over shiny ones.
- Shiny fabrics, like silk or satin, reflect light and cause glare, which distracts from your face and message.
- Opt for materials that are comfortable and allow for movement without making a distracting, rustling noise every time you move.
Fit and comfort
If you’re going to be interviewed, chances are you’ll have bright lights shining on you.
So dress for ‘warmer’ weather so you don’t cook in your clothes.
Choose a clothing style that speaks to your brand
The style of clothes you wear can also speak volumes about your brand.
It’s not about transforming into a walking billboard, but rather subtly using style to enhance your brand image while you’re on camera.
If your brand is innovative & modern
A slick, contemporary outfit will match your brand.
If your brand is classic & ‘corporate’
Traditional and smart professional attire. Not overly formal – if you’re wearing a business suit, take off the jacket. You can even roll up your sleeves.
For casual work environments with a more relaxed feel
Choose business casual or smart casual. If jeans are your vibe, wear the jeans.
Opt for clothing that reflects your day-to-day work attire. This helps to maintain authenticity and relatability among your peers and people.
Not sure? Here’s a safe option
Wear what you would normally wear if you were meeting a client.
What are the best colours to wear on camera?
Certain colours look fantastic on camera.
But others? Not so much.
The camera lens perceives colours differently from the human eye, so choosing the right colour for your attire can make a dramatic difference in your on-screen appearance.
The goal is to look as natural and authentic as possible because, at the end of the day, you want your audience to focus more on your message than on how you look.
Choosing the right colour tones will make you comfortable, confident, and camera-ready!
The camera loves cool colours in pastel and medium tones
Pastel and medium tones in ‘cool’ shades are your safest bet when deciding on what to wear for an on-camera appearance.
Why, you ask? These colours work well under most lighting conditions and create a pleasant contrast with every skin tone.
Think blues, purples, teal and shades of green.
These can look brilliant on video.
Navy blue – although a deeper colour – also looks great on camera.
There’s something about earth tones – the browns, tans, and greens – that add a touch of professionalism and reliability to your on-screen persona.
These colours are easy on the eye and are well-suited for most corporate communication videos.
Avoid wearing bright, intense colours
These are the really vivid or neon colours — think hot pinks, electric blues, and fluorescent yellows.
Why, you ask?
These colours are overly harsh on camera, causing distortions and a ‘vibrating’ effect.
Red is a particular colour to be wary of.
On camera, it can ‘bleed’ and cause issues with the video quality.
It’s also worth mentioning that intense colours may cause colour spill.
This is where the colour of your clothing reflects onto your skin, casting unflattering hues and affecting the overall video quality.
Like bright colours, black struggles with camera contrast.
Filming can cause black clothing to absorb a lot of light, making it hard for the camera to see definition.
And this can look unflattering.
The next black clothing challenge is in the editing when our editors colour correct your face colour tone.
If you’re wearing black, this face colour grading will darken your black outfit even more.
Avoid bright white
Especially if you have pale skin.
But mainly because camera operators adjust their equipment based on something called white balance.
This is a process to make sure the colours in your video look natural.
When you wear bright white, it can throw off the white balance.
The camera will try to compensate for the brightness, resulting in other colours in the scene appearing dull and under-saturated.
It’s best then, to avoid bright whites and instead, choose softer, pastel shades if you prefer wearing light colours.
Steer clear of patterns and prints
Patterns are tricky.
And can spell disaster on camera.
If you’re wondering why, video cameras can distort patterns and prints due to a phenomenon known as ‘moire’.
This is when a fine pattern in your clothing conflicts with the pattern on the video camera’s imaging chip, leading to a wavy or warped appearance of your outfit.
Not the look you were hoping for, right?
Put that patterned top back in the wardrobe and choose a solid colour instead.
No to small, tight patterns
Avoid small, tight patterns such as herringbones, stripes, and checks.
These can create a visual noise that comes across as a distraction on camera, pulling the focus away from the content of your message.
No to large, bold patterns
Sharp contrasts and large, bold patterns will overpower your screen presence.
They are too “loud” and distracting, drawing attention away from you and creating a busy look on-camera.
No to text on clothing
Logos are fine, but text on clothes is a no-no.
This is because people instinctively try to read what’s written, which leads to distraction from whatever it is you’re trying to convey.
It can even appear tacky in a professional setting.
Don’t fade into your background
Are we filming your interview against white or grey walls?
Then please, don’t wear a very light or grey top or shirt – you’ll look washed out and the scene will look boring blah.
Instead, pick one of the flattering cool medium colours for your top half to contrast with the pale background.
And in reverse, if your background is bright and colourful, choose a lighter, neutral shade to avoid a clashing mess of colours.
If you’re not sure what your background will be, bring light, neutral and mid range coloured tops or shirts along on filming day.
Are you being filmed in front of a green screen?
The camera loves green, but not if you’re being filmed in front of a green screen.
What is a green screen?
A green screen, also known as chroma key, is a backdrop that’s usually green or another solid colour.
It’s used in video production to allow editors to easily replace the background with any image or video clip during post-production.
This technique creates the illusion that you’ve been filmed in a completely different location.
What happens if your green clothing matches the green screen?
Well, the results would be funny, though not necessarily beneficial for your video production.
When the video is edited, anything in the frame that is the same colour as the chroma key (in this case, green) is made transparent and replaced with a chosen background.
If you’re wearing green, your clothes will become transparent as well, making you appear as if you’re floating disembodied or disappearing into the new virtual background!
If you wear the same shade of green as the green screen, during post-production, you will vanish into the background!
Tips for choosing camera-friendly jewellery
Now that we’ve got your wardrobe sorted, some advice about jewellery.
The first challenge we face with jewellery is the distracting noise it can create.
Microphones can hear your jewellery
Camera mics are sensitive creatures and they pick up and amplify the smallest sound your jewellery might make.
So that bracelet that jangles and clanks every time you move your arm – take it off.
Avoid super shiny accessories
Video cameras are very sensitive to light, so highly reflective accessories can create a glaring effect.
We want your viewers to see you, not that shiny pendant sitting front and centre.
When it comes to jewellery, bigger isn’t always better.
Large, chunky pieces will be distracting and take focus away from you.
The focus should be on you and what you’re saying, not your accessories.
Less is always more when it comes to wearing jewellery on camera.
Let’s wrap this up
Plan your wardrobe ahead of time to avoid any last-minute stress.
I’d also suggest bringing a second option along on the filming day, especially if you’re unsure.
- Stay on brand with your workplace vibe and dress code.
- Wear what you’d wear if meeting a client.
- For internal videos, wear your day-to-day work clothes.
- Create contrast with your background.
- Choose pastel to mid-range cool colours.
- Choose solid colours and avoid prints and patterns.
- Avoid black, bright white, red and bright colours.
- Stay away from shiny textures and noisy or distracting accessories.
And most importantly, be yourself; authenticity is more crucial than your clothes.