Sage Advice from Tom Andrea on Dressing for a TV Interview – by Chris Zaccaro

Many of the questions we receive from clients before they go into a TV interview revolve around what to wear.

Luckily for us here at Sullivan & LeShane Public Relations we have Tom Andrea, our Strategic Partner who has more than 30 years of public relations experience and is known for his impeccable wardrobe. In 2011 Tom was named one of the region’s best-dressed individuals by Hartford Magazine. In this week’s Tuesday Tip, we ask Tom some of the more common questions clients ask and what advice he would provide them.

Tom Andrea, Strategic Partner at Sullivan & LeShane Public Relations

What should clients be thinking about when picking out their outfit before a television interview?

Tom Andrea: First of all, the clothes you wear should not out-do your message. Make sure you’re not bringing more attention to your outfit than what you’re saying, because then people will miss the interview.

What should I be thinking about in terms of colors or patterns?

Tom Andrea: Don’t let your clothes “holler” at the viewer—meaning stay away from big stripes, big florals, bright colors and multi-patterns. Stay away from plaids. Your colors should be muted—quiet and soft. Also, your clothes should look neat—there’s nothing worse than having a suit or dress that is wrinkled or not properly tailored.

What if I wear a uniform to work? Should I wear that?

Tom Andrea: Yes, if the interview is about your line of work. It shows pride in what you do and the organization you’re affiliated with. But if you’re being interviewed for personal reasons outside of work, like a volunteer role, it’s appropriate to wear clothing that represents the association you volunteer for.

Should I be more concerned with how I look or comfort?

Tom Andrea: I think you should be concerned about both, it should be about comfort and how it wears on you. In this day in age of dressing down, it’s still important to dress up for an interview. Remember that the anchors that are interviewing you are dressed up, you should look the same as they do.

The only time I think you don’t have to worry about your appearance is if you’re doing an interview during a hurricane or something. Then, obviously, you need to protect yourself from the elements. But there are no such elements within a TV studio!

Speaking of hurricanes or major events like that, what if the interview is set to take place outside in cold weather?

Tom Andrea: The location of the interview doesn’t make a difference—you’re still representing yourself and the organization you’re associated with. If you’re outside in cold weather doing an interview, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with wearing a heavy coat, scarf and gloves—even a hat if you have to. Just make sure you look professional.

What are some things that studio guests commonly forget about or realize right before an interview?

Tom Andrea: I find women have this down pat a lot more than men. I’ve had clients who need help straightening their ties before going on camera. You should make sure your jacket or coat is buttoned properly.

I’ve seen many people dressed well for an interview, but their grooming did a disservice to their clothing preparation. There’s a lot to be said for combed hair and, for men, a clean shaven appearance. That will benefit you on camera.

Studios usually have makeup and wardrobe rooms for anchors, reporters and even guests. Don’t hesitate to ask if you can use them and feel free to bring in your own combs, brushes, makeup or whatever to do some last minute prep before the cameras roll.

By the way, I think the same rules apply when your photo is being taken to accompany a print piece about you or your organization. Impressions do matter.

Any other useful tips for anybody that may have a TV interview coming up?

Tom Andrea: Your look should complement the anchor that’s interviewing you. Beforehand, view the TV station that you’re going to appear on so you can get a look and feel for how the anchors are dressing.

In case there is a long or wide shot of you sitting or standing, make sure your shoes and socks reinforce your professionalism and compliment the outfit that you’re wearing by being clean and in good shape. One of the worst fashion developments is this new trend of wearing a suit with sneakers. Leave the sneakers in the gym bag and bring a nice pair of clean, polished shoes with you.

Another new trend is very colorful socks. If you’re not the sock maker or trying to sell that product, keep your socks in line with your outfit. This goes back to one of my original points. Colorful, bouncy socks with a muted suit will bring too much attention to your ankles and the viewers will be focused on that and not what you’re saying.

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