What color to wear for your on-camera appearance?

First, you need to know what not to wear: Generally avoid red, white, black — basically anything very dark or very bright. This is because colors are captured differently through the camera lens than through your eyes. Reds often turn pink on camera, white can be too ‘hot’ and blacks can make you disappear if you’re sitting in front of a dark-colored background. Instead, go for mid-tones that will pop against the backdrop.

Here are tips for looking good on-camera:

  • Know what the shot is going to be. You’re going to be seen within a rectangular screen, whether that’s on TV or within an online video player, and you’ll typically be sitting against a colored background. Knowing the framing of the shot — whether it will be a close up, medium or wide shot — and what the background color will be will help you determine what to wear, so be sure to ask!
  • Wear your darkest color on the bottom, with a lighter color on top, and make sure your top is a darker color than your face. Viewers’ eyes will be drawn to the lightest area, and generally you’d want this to be your face. For the same reason, avoid unusual accents like white buttons on a black shirt, anything shiny or metallic, or showing a lot of leg since that is what your audience will be looking at, instead of at your face and listening to what you have to say!
  • Make sure the color you pick flatters your skin tone. People with darker skin tones will tend to look good in more vibrant tones, those with lighter skin tones should stick to mid-range colors, including pastels and earth tones.

When it comes to being on camera the goal is not to create a look with a lot of strong contrasts. Forget the heavy patterns or stripes, which can create a zebra or moiré effect and flutter on camera. Focus instead on standing out from the background. If you’re not sure what colors are flattering on you, find a stylist to help!

Screen Presence Stylist Chris Aysta provided the content for this post.

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