When you’re on camera doing a webinar, your viewers aren’t just seeing you. They’re seeing you through the lens of your computer’s camera—and that of their own monitor. On some monitors and cameras, certain colors, patterns, and textures will distort or look less flattering—even if they look fine in person.
Consider color. For both men and women, color is key to looking good on camera. Certain colors don’t translate well. For example, red can bleed into more neutral colors on air and make all but the darkest skin tones look flushed.
White should be avoided, as it can be distractingly bright. Black can also be unflattering on camera even though it looks great in real life; both can make you look washed out. Overly bright or bold pinks, greens, blues, oranges, and yellows can appear distractingly bright on camera as well. You want your audience to be paying attention to you, not the color of your shirt or tie. Black suits should be avoided too, as they tend to absorb a lot of light, and can look one-dimensional and without texture.
More natural tones and pastels are a better choice for on-camera appearances. Cool light blue is a go-to staple for everyone from newscasters to politicians. Lighter, more subdued colors such as beige, light blue, grey, darker or mid-tone cream, or pale pink can look good both in person and in front of the camera. For a blazer or suit jacket, think dark blue, dark gray, beige, or brown; try to stick to a color that’s medium in tone rather than light or dark.
Consider patterns. Pattern is also an important factor to consider when dressing for a webinar presentation. Avoid narrow stripes such as herringbones and pinstripes, especially if they are high-contrast; these can be visually distracting in the camera. Busy, large, colorful, or distracting patterns should also be avoided; no stripes, plaids, large flowers, checks or dots, or tweeds. When in doubt, use a solid color rather than a pattern, and use a texture that’s subtle rather than noticeable.
Men’s ties should be subtle; it’s a good idea to avoid stripes, as wide stripes can appear loud and distracting and narrow stripes can “flutter” or “strobe” on camera, making them look distorted. Try to stick to a solid color or very subtle pattern that’s darker than your dress shirt and looks good with the color of your suit jacket.
Consider shininess. Depending on how well-lit your studio or office is, the reflectiveness of your clothing or jewelry—which you might never notice off-camera—might be distracting to the audience. Avoid shirts or ties that have shiny or reflective cloth. Both men and women should avoid any but the subtlest jewelry and other accessories, such as lapel pins, belt buckles, or watches. People who wear glasses should consider using glare-proof lenses or sticking to contacts on the shoot day.
Women should avoid wearing long earrings, very reflective jewelry, or any jewelry that makes a noise when they move, such as multiple bangles on the wrists.
Consider formality. You don’t have to wear a suit during your webinar presentation, although whether you do or not depends on the expectations of your industry. If your industry is fairly conservative and people mostly wear suits to work, it’s best to wear a suit during the presentation. If you’re in a more casual or creative industry, you have more leeway in deciding. However, short sleeves often look a bit sloppy on camera, so it’s best to go with long sleeves even during summer. If you’re wearing makeup, the color of your arms might be different than that of your face, which can be distracting for viewers.
In addition, bear in mind that if you don’t wear a suit jacket and you tend to sweat, spots may show up easily on your shirt. If you’re filming in a studio under professional-grade lights rather than in your own office, the lights can be surprisingly hot. Plan accordingly.
Lastly, be sure to wear comfortable shoes, especially if you plan to deliver your presentation while standing. It can help to know ahead of time whether your feet will appear in the shot; if not, bring comfortable shoes to stand in, but bring a pair of comfortable but presentable shoes that look good with your outfit just in case you need them.
What you wear can have a surprising impact on how well your audience absorbs your message. You want them to pay attention to your presentation, not your outfit—so don’t wear anything that attracts attention. If you’re filming in your office and have access to the camera in the setting where you’ll be filming under equivalent light settings, try filming yourself in a few different outfits to see what looks best on screen. With a little thought and planning, you can be sure you’ll look as good as you sound.