How to Dress on Camera

What to Wear on Camera

Dressing for presentations and dressing for on camera may seem like they are one in the same. However, depending on what you are filming, they can be very different. While you want to make sure you look professional for both in-person presentations and on camera trainings, there are other factors to think about when dressing for being on camera.

Patterns: Patterns are something to pay close attention to when filming. You want to avoid wearing any type of clothing that has small checks or narrow stripes. Avoiding those types of clothing will help avoid the moiré effect, which is the wavy/shimmering look on clothing. This can be incredibly distracting to the viewer and ultimately looks like something that went wrong during filming. Please note that the moiré effect is not something you can simply “fix” in post production either. So be sure to avoid small checks or narrow stripes from the start to avoid having to revisit the studio for the same training video.

Colors: Make sure the colors complement you as well as your environment. Of course you always want to wear something that is flattering for you, but you must consider your environment before you consider yourself. When filming in a studio, it’s a little easier to know what to avoid. If you are filming in front of a green or blue screen and have plans to use chromakey to lay a background in, DO NOT wear the same color you are filming in front of. I know this may be common sense to some, but for those who don’t work in studios or understand how chromakeying works, it’s not something they think to avoid. Even something as simple as a necklace with a stone in it can cause a headache in post production so it’s better to simply avoid the color altogether. You are welcome to give it a whirl, but plan for some extra time for editing and stress eating.

Skin: As mentioned in one of my previous posts, To Wear or Not To Wear: Dressing for Presentations, women need to be conscious of the length of skirts and dresses, as well as any low cut blouses. Dressing for on camera goes even deeper than that. You need to be aware of simply how much skin is showing overall. If you are filming a training video on hiking tips, go ahead and wear the appropriate clothing; shorts, tank tops, etc. However, if you are filming in a studio or office setting, wearing a tank top, strapless top/dress, etc. is unnecessary. If you are showing too much of your shoulder all the way down to your hand you can bet that 1: you look a little less professional and 2: a lot of your viewers may be staring at your bare arm instead of focusing on the message you are trying to deliver. One of the few exceptions to this is if you are wearing a nice dress with thick straps. While it is still good to avoid showing too much of your shoulder and down, the right dress can usually work. For examples of this, just take a look at your local female meteorologists and anchors wardrobe for a couple of days. It’ll give you a better sense of what is appropriate for on camera wardrobe.

Suits: Suits are great for on camera trainings, however there are a few things to keep in mind. If you are standing make sure your suit jacket is buttoned up. It looks a bit sloppy and too laid back for a training course if your suit jacket is open. Another very important thing to avoid is pinstripe suits, this goes back to avoiding the moiré effect.

Group Shots: If there is more than one person on screen at a time, try to find a way to coordinate without being too “matchy”. Choose colors that complement each other, while still keeping your surroundings in mind. For example, if you are doing a training for a university it is perfectly acceptable for all talent to wear University polo’s or University colors, unless your colors are green and you are standing in front of a green screen of course. If you are doing a training on politics, for example, it would be perfectly acceptable for one talent to wear red and the other to wear blue. Try to be creative without making your clothes clash and look too busy.

 

These are just a few tips to get you started with what to wear when filming on camera trainings. Once you get into the swing of things you’ll figure out what works best for you. Maybe you thought wearing a suit would be the best route since it is clean and professional, but once in post production realized it just doesn’t work with the environment you filmed in. Or maybe the suit just didn’t match your topic. We’ve been dressing ourselves for years but this is a different world in and of itself, and it is a learning process along the way.


Working on a training and not sure what to wear? Or have other tips for what to wear for on camera trainings that I didn’t cover? Let us know in the comments below!

Audrey is an Instructional Designer with the Learning & Professional Development team at Northern Arizona University. She has a B.S. in Electronic Media and Film with an emphasis in Entertainment Management and an M.Ed. in Educational Technology from NAU. With her experience as a newsroom weather director and on-screen talent, as well as multiple years of experience teaching in a university classroom setting, Audrey brings a unique perspective to the LPD team.

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