You Asked | What to wear on TV?

Shannon writes:

Love your blog! I never miss a word (or photo!). I was hoping you might have some tips for dressing for TV?

Next Friday a crew is coming to film a very short house tour. Except, here’s the thing: I have no idea what to wear! I want to look stay-at-home-mom fabulous (in other words, casual) except I don’t think I have much that will work (black tees, white tees, loose sweaters and sweatshirts, distressed jeans.). I need to shop!

Good question, Shannon! It’s something I ask myself every single time I do a segment. Herewith, a few of the most helpful tips I’ve been given over the years.

1. Consider the theme. And then dress a notch better than you actually would if you were in that situation. If I’m doing a spring trends segment for Breakfast Television I’ll wear a brightly coloured Banana Republic blouse and skirt (see above). If I’m doing a “Camping on a budget” segment for CTV (which you can watch here) I’ll keep it casual in Joe Fresh cords. If I’m doing a “Dressing for your body type” segment (which you can watch here) I’ll wear a JNBY dress. It’s rocket science, this part.

Since you’re going casual I love the idea of a brightly coloured blouse or sweater (Joe Fresh has tons of these sorts of things) and a pair of smart pants (along the lines of those from J.Crew or Club Monaco). And some cool, comfy flats (I’m always partial to those by Loeffler Randall).

2. Get comfy. Almost as important as how your outfit looks is how it makes you feel. You need to be able to move so you can be relaxed on camera. Can you bend? Can you sit? Can you stand without fidgeting?

3. Dress like a box of crayons.  The camera loves colour. ‘Tis smart to avoid wearing all white. Black, on the other hand, can work when you pair it with bold accessories and when you’re shooting on a well-lit set (since you’ll be shooting at home, I’d opt for colour). I was going to wear a dark shirt to host Timmy’s Telethon until I saw how dark the set was behind — bright blue popped more. Prints can work, though they’re a little trickier and you’ll want to avoid small, busy, high-contrast prints like herringbone.

Christine Vu submitted another great tip via Twitter: White is too bright for the camera but if white is what you want, wear light beige. It will appear white.

4. Remember the three S’s: skin, steam, cinch. (I know the third one isn’t technically an S, but if they can cheat with the three R’s…). The camera adds bulk so you don’t want to overly bundle up. Don’t be afraid to show some skin, whether your arms, legs or neck. And consider choosing an outfit that cinches you somewhere, likely your waist. Also, steam your clothes lest you look like Helen Hunt at the Oscars.

5. Get your selfie on. Take photos from every angle. The camera sees things very differently than the mirror does.

6. Get your hair did. Remember how you and your ladyfriends would get a practice updo before prom? Well it’s time to do things high school style. Figure out how you want your hair ahead of time. And no, you don’t have to get it professionally blown out.

7. Paint your face like a tart. A makeup artist once told me if you do your eyes as if you were going out at night, your makeup will read quite naturally on camera. I always feel like a floozy walking around post-shoot, but that’s a small price to pay for looking polished on air. Oooooh, speaking of makeup — become best friends with powder.

Hope this helps, Shannon! Please send a link to the segment when it airs!

P.S. Find answers to your most burning questions like Meg’s How do you start out as a copywriter? Tara’s How do you make your blog look better? Emilie’s How do you gain exposure? And Shona’s How do you do it?

P.P.S. Have a question you’d like a reeeeeally long answer to? Send it to

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  • Reply Petite Adventures March 9, 2013 at 8:03 am

    Great tips!

    Kate xo

  • Reply Kelsey Dundon March 13, 2013 at 8:44 am

    Thanks, Kate! I hope they come in handy!

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