Just like the obligatory childhood photo of you missing your two front teeth, there probably is a shot of you wearing clothes that are way too big for you. Hopefully, your suit fits you better these days compared to when you were a child, but even today, you can still come across on camera as looking like a toddler who raided his dad’s closet.
When seated, the collar of your jacket may bunch up in the back, making your shoulders look sloping and your neck look lost. The solution is as low tech as it gets. Pull your suit jacket down and sit on it. Immediately, your shoulder line will be restored and you will appear much more buff than before—all without a trip to the gym. (You’re welcome!)
Expressing your personal style through socks may seem like a low-key way to make a fashion statement, but you may be shooting yourself in the foot. If you are sitting down and happen to cross your legs, your crazy sock style may steal the show. Do you want your audience to remember what you say or what you are wearing? (If your follow-up questions center on where you shop, then you’ll know what you accomplished.)
There is another sock sin that goes beyond distracting style. If you are going to be seated for your performance, make sure your socks are long enough to cover your calf when your legs are bent. For men, a hairy calf poking out between the cuff of your pant leg and the top of your sock is never a good thing.
The Uniform Look
A more formal performance will call for a jacket and tie. A more casual one will require a button-down or collared golf shirt. Unfortunately, simplicity can create its own problem: the uniform look.
Consider this hypothetical: After reading this book, you are asked to participate in an on-camera panel discussion. You grab a blue shirt out of your closet because you have learned the color blue usually plays well on camera. However, your other panelists may have brought their favorite blue shirts to the shoot as well. The result: a panel of blue-clad men looking as though they are in full compliance with the company dress code.
Unless you are hoping for a sea of solid color, bring a spectrum of options to help break up the monotony of the “blue man group.”
To Button or Not to Button?
That is the question. The answer varies based on whether you are sitting or standing.
If you are sitting, you will almost always want to keep your jacket unbuttoned. Jackets tend to buckle at the button when seated and create a two-fold gape at the chest. In order for the jacket to lie flat, it has to be unbuttoned. The best bet is to adjust it so that it covers the bulk of your chest neatly.
If you are standing, it comes down to what your viewer expects. If your audience leans toward formality, then you’d better button up, but if your audience likely wouldn’t be buttoned up in a face-to-face meeting, feel free to keep your jacket open.
Don’t Be That Guy
While men tend have it much easier than women when picking out their on-camera wardrobes, details still matter. Make your selections wisely so your choices don’t become a distraction to your message. You want your audience focused on what you say, not the color of your socks!
Learn More: On-Camera Coach
If you found this information valuable, check out my book, On-Camera Coach: Tools and Techniques for Business Professionals in a Video-Driven World, now available from Wiley Publishing. On-Camera Coach aims to take the mystery out of communicating through the camera and provides specific tips and techniques that can make your message sing—and you, the messenger, feel confident in a job well done.