Did You Pack a Plaid Jacket for Your Next On-Stage Presentation? Oh No!

Sleazy Retro Businessman If you haven’t thought through your wardrobe, you may find yourself wearing clothes that detract from your next presentation. We don’t need to mention that you shouldn’t wear a loud plaid jacket, do we?

If you’re presenting in another city, you won’t have time to search for more appropriate attire. You need to plan your wardrobe prior to packing for your trip.

Look the Part

It isn’t enough to have a presentation that you think will knock their socks off. You need to be wearing the right socks yourself – and pants, and jackets, and dresses.

elegant man in a tuxedo The Wall Street Journal recently reported on a Harvard study of Success Outside the Dress Code to examine what observers thought of individuals who deviated from the norm in the workplace.

As the Journal reported, “There are boundaries to the benefits of looking different, the Harvard work showed. If an individual was viewed as accidentally out of sync with everyone else, such as mistakenly wearing a red bow tie rather than black at a formal event, that erased positive feelings about him among those surveyed.”

A presentation before a business group is not the time to show your contrarian side. You might be wiser to stick to the following guidelines which apply to both your on-stage and on-camera appearances.

General Guidelines

  • Wear dark colored pants, or skirts, with lighter colored tops to avoid that bottom heavy look.
  • Always wear dark, bone or taupe–colored polished shoes. White footwear will make your feet look enormous on camera.
  • Reflection free glasses work best. If your current eyeglasses are not reflection free, your optometrist can easily coat them to avoid the glare from the bright stage lights.

Men

  • Blazers look great on stage – blue, grey or dark tan or taupe work well. Avoid plaid jackets especially in shades of brown, as they do not connote “authority.”
  • Wear shirts that have some color but avoid busy plaids, stripes and small checks and herringbone patterns.
  • Avoid button-down shirts that don’t lay flat and may cause shadows on camera.
  • If you choose to wear a tie, pick one in a bright color but avoid busy patterns.
  • If you wear an open neck shirt, and choose to wear an undershirt, pick a V-neck one so that it doesn’t show.
  • Socks should be knee high and the same color as your pants.
  • Style your hair off your face so your eyes and full face can be seen on camera. If you have bangs or very long hair, consider brushing the bangs to one side and wearing your hair back.

 Women

  • If you choose to wear a skirt, it’s better to go with dark panty hose, which are more slimming. Pantyhose are a must on stage with dresses and skirts.
  • If you’re sitting on a panel, it’s best to refrain from wearing a short skirt that can easily creep up distracting both you and the audience. Pants are a safer choice.
  • Wear a new outfit a few times before appearing on stage so you know how it fits. You may decide it needs needs tailoring. Your audience will perceive that you are self-conscious and lacking in confidence if your sleeves are too long or your skirt is too short.
  • Avoid dangling earrings that are distracting on camera. Also, large gold or silver necklaces can catch the light and shine into the eyes of the audience.
  • Don’t be a “twirler.” Avoid wearing a rope necklace if your tendency is to play with it.  Avoid twirling your hair as that can be taken as a “tell” that you are not confident on stage.
  • While flowered patterns are in fashion this spring, avoid choosing jackets or dresses that are too busy.
  • If you must wear a black or navy dress or pants suit, choose a bright colored shell to wear under the jacket or a scarf with the dress.

While the lights on stage are hot, the temperature in most ballrooms is really, really cold. Bring a jacket or shawl to meetings.

Before leaving for your next out-of-town presentation, wear your presentation outfit at your final dress rehearsal. Videotape yourself and, if you’re working with a trainer, get her advice about how you look and suggestions for adding or eliminating clothes and/or accessories.

That’s the time to make changes. Not when you’re about to step out on the stage.

1 comment to Did You Pack a Plaid Jacket for Your Next On-Stage Presentation? Oh No!

  • Paul Graham

    The reason we have the saying Don’t Judge A Book By Its Cover is because people do. There may well be a different set of rules for those at the very pinnacle of their field but for most there is nothing to be gained by bucking the trend. I don’t particularly like that but it is reality. Look the part or be prepared to pay the price.

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