This week, we tackle a question on a lot of listeners’ minds as we move into a new workplace reality. I share 3 wardrobe areas you should focus on to look your best on video conferencing, and a couple of extra tips I’ve learned along the way!
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Read the full episode transcript below! – Ep 43 Office Hours Looking Good While Teleworking
Today’s episode of Office Hours is sponsored by Holding Hangers. I know it sounds strange to call a hanger revolutionary, but these hangers are different than anything you’ve used before. Holding Hangers are simply the best way to hang your pants, skirts, and shoulderless items without wrinkles, fold marks or damage left by traditional clamp hangers. Holding hangers use gentle tension to hold your clothes securely from the inside, without stretching out your waistbands.
Everyday Style School listeners can take 15% off their first purchase by going to holdinghangers.com and using code STYLE15. That’s STYLE15 in all caps.
Welcome back to Office Hours–the weekly show of the Everyday Style School podcast, where we answer one question, submitted by one of you fabulous listeners, to help make style easier, and getting dressed more fun.
Today’s question came from too many people to list…and that question is–what the heck do I wear for video conferencing?
Emily summed it up perfectly in her email, which said “Help! Like most people, my office has closed and I’m working from home. I’m still meeting with clients on video though, so I want to look professional.
I’m used to having complete outfits, and I’m not sure what to do now that people can only see my shoulders and face. What should I wear to look my best?”
Before we dive in, let me say again, that even if people aren’t seeing you, you owe it to yourself to get dressed every day. I am going to keep beating this drum for as long as it takes to return to normal.
This is a time when getting dressed is for you, not for anyone else, but it does really good things for your mental health to shower, do your hair, throw on a little lipstick, and put clothes on that make you feel good about yourself.
You don’t have to dress up, but don’t forget to dress well. Don’t cheat yourself out of the mindset shift that happens when you like the way you look. Fresh loungewear counts, by the way.
But, for those of you who are doing work in a way you haven’t before, video can be a little intimidating, and I understand wanting a little direction to look your best.
I’m going to give you a few wardrobe tips that will help you master looking great on video, and then share a couple of tricks I’ve learned through my own video journey. Let’s get started!
The first thing to consider is the formality of your clothes. Normally, I encourage people who work via video to keep the same level of formality they would in an office setting–for example, a video interview would still require a jacket.
However, I’m pretty sure the whole world knows you’re not sitting around the house in a suit, so I think you can probably relax the dress code a little.
With that said though, you still want to look polished. I think good choices right now would be a casual blouse, a simple sweater, or a cardigan and a shell.
You can even wear a beyond basic knit top that’s in good condition, but be careful that you don’t take working from home attire too far. You should still look polished, even if you look more casual.
Like Emily said, on video, you don’t get the effect of the whole outfit. Your shoes can’t help your look, and the statement pants you bought aren’t doing any good either. What you should be focusing your wardrobe efforts on are:
- Your Neckline
- Your Colors
- Your Accessories
First, your neckline–every woman has necklines she likes better than others, and on video, this one matters a lot. I wish I could do a podcast on which neckline is best for each of you, but since I can’t here are a few pointers to get you going in the right direction.
In general, your neck stops where your neckline starts, so if you were blessed with a long, beautiful neck, you can pull off mock turtlenecks and high crew necks pretty well.
However, if you only wish you were blessed with a long, beautiful neck, those necklines will make your neck look even shorter.
You may want to consider a neckline that’s more open. In general, v-necks and scoop necks are universally flattering, but some women prefer a deep and narrow v or scoop, while some women prefer a shallow, wide v or scoop.
If you don’t know which you prefer, use what’s in your closet to find out. Try different necklines on, and then take pictures just from shoulders up to see what you feel best in. Necklines also affect how broad your shoulders look and how big your boobs look.
High, closed necklines make shoulders look broader, and boobs look bigger, lower, and more open necklines make shoulders appear narrower, and will minimize your bust. Use that information to create the look you want.
Second, your colors–again, just like last week, we talked about knowing your best colors, and on video, it makes a big difference. Wearing your best colors near your face will make you look lighter, brighter and more awake.
Your best colors bring out your features, while not so good colors highlight things like wrinkles.
If you need a color class, there’s one available in my All-Access Library, and I’ll link to the All-Access Membership in the show notes above.
There’s so much information online, and it can get super confusing–I don’t know anyone who’s been successful finding their best colors by looking at their veins or whether or not they tan easily.
A super simple trick to get you at least going in the right direction is to group yourself into warm or cool colors. Note, this is not what you like best, it’s what you objectively look best in.
If you are cool-toned, chances are you look best in black, white and pink. If you are warm-toned, brown, ivory, and orange are better choices. Again, head to your closet and use what you’ve got to at least narrow it down.
If you look better in those cool tones, look for blue-based colors and shades of pink, purple, blue and gray. If you look better in the warm tones, look for yellow-based colors and shades of coral and orange, tans and browns.
Another quick and admittedly imperfect way to get started is to look at what color your wedding dress was. Cool-toned ladies probably wore bright or diamond white, while warm-toned ladies probably wore ivory or candlelight.
There is so much more that goes into finding your best colors, but these simple tips will get you started.
Finally, your accessories can add interest to your outfit. If it feels a little inauthentic to wear big bold statement jewelry, that’s ok. Minimal accessories can still have a big impact and help you look more put together.
When I do video, I look for things that will actually show up on camera, so shorter necklaces often work better–long ones end outside the frame and don’t have as much oomph.
Earrings are a great choice, as are hair accessories like headbands and embellished clips. They’re super on-trend right now, and if you haven’t washed your hair in a day or two–or more–they can help you look a little more polished.
So those are the 3 things wardrobe wise, to focus on-neckline, colors, and accessories. I recommend putting together a few “camera-ready” look so that you’re not scrambling last minute.
I know a lot of you listening are thinking–this doesn’t matter–everyone is wearing hoodies or t-shirts, and great, that’s awesome, you do do.
But I want you to consider this as an opportunity to stand out. If everyone shows up looking like a hot mess express except you, you are building credibility and respect–even if it’s unconscious.
This will end. I don’t know when, but it will. Why not come out of it with an even better reputation? If all it takes is a nice top and some basic grooming, I think it’s worth it.
Now, I told you I would share a couple of things I’ve learned from doing video for a few years and two things to consider are makeup and lighting.
On video, you may need more makeup than you usually wear to bring your features out. When I’m doing videos, I usually do my makeup like I normally would, and then turn the camera and lights on, and see if I need a little more lipstick or a little more blush–I do touch-ups right on camera before I press record!
And speaking of lighting– to really look good on video, you’ll probably want to add more light. If you’re using just natural light, make sure you’re close to the window with your face or the side of your face toward the light. Don’t sit between the light source and the camera. That’s called backlighting, and your face is completely in shadows. Instead, add lights from the side and from the front.
To recap, if video has become a new part of your work life in recent weeks, remember you can be casual, but don’t cross the line to sloppy. To look your best, focus on your neckline, colors, and accessories, and don’t forget to tweak your makeup and lighting for maximum results.
Thank you to Emily and everyone else who sent in the question, and If you’re listening, and have a question you’d like me to cover in Office Hours, email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once again, I’d like to thank Holding Hangers for sponsoring this episode and don’t forget to visit holdinghangers.com and use code STYLE15 (all caps!) to take 15% off of your first purchase
That’s all for today–see you next week. Until then, stay safe, stay sane, and stay stylish!