Does anyone feel like you’re in a reality show where the host is going to jump out of the bushes at any moment and yell, “Psyche! You’re on hidden camera!” Does your show include waving to your neighbors, those you have been social distancing for years, and notice something’s a little off? Wait, are they wearing sweats? He looks like he hasn’t shaved since….the quarantine started. She didn't put on make-up? Now that's a change! It’s almost like that Batman movie where the joker infected all of the makeup so no one could wear any. The news people had rashes from it and sunken eyes.
Is this where we’re headed? Is the Joker behind the camera? Apparently not, and the WHO says WFH is the way to go. But a hidden camera reality show is almost more believable. So here we are, keeping the show going until the hidden camera stops rolling. And yes, it’s time to keep up appearances, both for your own mental health AND job security. If you are one of those fortunate souls able to WFH (work from home), it’s important now, more than ever, to maintain your polished appearance and send a message that’s consistent with your in-office persona. After all, people are used to seeing how you look in the office. Having a crumpled, frumpled appearance at home is sending mixed signals about your consistent behavior, dedication to your goals, and attention to detail. Consider your next video call as a made for TV moment you can use to your advantage, to shine as much during video calls as you do in person. Here’s how…
1. Keep design details near the face
As Ashton Kutcher says in Cheaper By the Dozen, “my face is the money maker”. This is where you want the focus. How can you keep the focus on your face? Wearing a shirt with a collar is a great way to bring the focus near your face. Angular collars will appear more polished and purposeful than rounded collars. A third layer piece will also add some visual authority and help your appearance to be more consistent with your message. The third layer will also provide contrast in the center of your body leading attention up to the face. A row of buttons on your shirt, a necklace or scarf will also draw their eyes up to the "money maker".
2. Fit matters
You want your shirt or jacket to fit well. How can you tell? The shoulder seam line should line up with shoulder joint. Collars and lapels should be in scale with the frame of the person wearing them, narrower collars/lapels on a narrower person, wider collars/lapels for a wider person. This same principle of scale applies to accessories such as necklaces, scarves, ties, etc.
3. Grooming is important
You want the focus of the video call to be on your face and what you have to say, not the wrinkles on your shirt, the grease spot, or bed head. Make sure your clothes look neat, ironed, hair is done well and make-up looks naturally enhanced. (Ex nay on the Joker infested not gonna wear make-up today look.)
4. Wear the right colors
Not much has been written about this one and yet it’s a simple way to create a strong message. Repeat your eye color in your clothing and others have trouble focusing on anything but your eyes. Repeat your lip color and others will focus on your mouth. You could also take one of the colors in your background and repeat it in your clothing. For example, if there’s a green plant in view, wear emerald green to coordinate with it.
5. What about the background?
Eliminate as many distractions as possible. Keep the background simple, neat, and organized. The last thing you want is for them to see the dirty clothes on the floor or a cluttered, dated room. If that’s not possible, search for an app that allows you to change the background. You in front of the Bay Bridge is much more fun than you in front of a sink full of dirty dishes.
6. Good lighting, strategically placed
“Proper lighting eliminates unwanted shadows that may skew a person’s facial expressions or appearance. Sit facing a light source. Sitting with your back to a window or bright light source can negatively impact the quality of the video call by giving you a harsh silhouette effect. Whenever possible, sit facing a window, desk lamp, or other light source to ensure your face is well illuminated and clearly visible.” Natural lighting it great. If possible, sit facing a window, if not possible use soft directional light, the closer it is to you the better. You may even want to set up two lights. If you imagine a clock in front of you, position one light at at 11 o’clock and one at 2 o’clock. Using a lot of white or bright surfaces and walls in your room will brighten up the space by bouncing light around. (Lighting tips provided by lifesize: https://www.lifesize.com/en/video-conferencing-blog/video-conference-lighting)
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Image consultant and personal stylist. Dani is happily married, the mother of 3 charming children, and an Aussie named Josie Wales.