How To Dress For A Media Interview: The Details

This is the fifth and final article in a week-long series that will teach you how to dress, apply makeup, and wear your hair for media interviews and public appearances. You can see the complete series here.

Aside from your clothes, makeup and hair, there are several other aspects of your physical appearance to consider before going on-air. And there are some general things worth bearing in mind with today’s high-definition shows.

Your hands may show up on camera, so apply a little makeup base on age spots, and make sure your nails are well-tended. The best nail polish shades: clear, pink-tinged or flesh-colored.

If you wear glasses, choose frames and lenses that don’t draw attention to themselves. Avoid shiny or brightly colored frames, and make sure the glasses don’t obscure your brows or dominate your other features (notice how Larry King’s glasses are the first thing you notice when you see him; that may be fine for an interviewer, but it doesn’t advance the cause for a spokesperson with limited screen time).

Former CNN Host Larry King was known for his glasses (and his suspenders)

One tried-and-true method is to choose a frame that matches your hair. Compensate for shiny frames by applying some cream makeup or powder to minimize their reflected glare. It’s best to have glare-resistant lenses and to steer clear of tinted lenses.

What about high-definition? There are different types of high-definition, so a lot depends on the camera and the filters being used, as well as the technical skills of the camera operator and the lighting designer. But there are some good rules of thumb.

Remember that commercial where people watching a golf tournament at home could spot the golf ball way off in the distance even though the people on the green couldn’t find it? It’s not too far off the mark: “Things that show up in real life show up much more in HD,” says Rebecca Perkins, head of the makeup department for Law & Order: SVU.

That means it’s even more important to keep your wardrobe and makeup subtle. Something that would be considered “bright” in real life might look “a little crazy” on an HD screen, Perkins says. It’s also even more important in HD to blend makeup very carefully to avoid obvious contrast lines, advises Ingrid Grimes-Miles, the make-up artist who created Michelle Obama’s “look” and also works for WGN-TV’s morning show in Chicago. And if anyone tells you that powder should be avoided in this format, ignore them: “You absolutely do need powder, otherwise you will come across oily,” Grimes-Miles says.

Textures are also much more pronounced in HD, so go with smooth and natural ones. And double-check that your clothes are literally spot-less. “If you wear a dark color, swipe your shoulders before you go on!” caution Deborah Boland and JoJami Tyler, co-owners of the media and image consulting firm TV Image Live.

We hope you’ve found this week’s tips useful. Hopefully they will give you one less thing to worry about during your first/next appearance on television (or in a video or on a stage). And if you’re a veteran willing to share any other tried-and-true preparation techniques or shortcuts, we invite you to enter them in the comments section.

You can see the other articles in the series here.

Many of these tips were used with permission from Your Public Best: The Complete Personal Appearance and Media Training Guide by Lillian Brown. Published by Newmarket Press.