Did you know that you only have nine seconds to make a good first impression? Within nine seconds of seeing you, a person will decide if you're trustworthy, approachable, or intelligent. I don't tell you this to make you anxious. I want to empower you. Before you even say a word, you can send a message to your audience. This is especially important for those of you who may be giving presentations, promoting your projects on television, or delivering a TED talk. What you wear matters. I'm here to help you create an image that enhances your message rather than distract from it. Read on below for my practical advice when dressing for your next media appearance.
Research the Background
My note when outlining this blog said "Don't be a floating head!" This sums up my first suggestion well. Research the background. Are you going on a morning talk show where the background is all blue? Are you giving a speech in front of a black background? In either of those cases, you need to wear something that stands out from the background to avoid looking like a floating head on camera. An ensemble that is white, red, or yellow would work well in both of those instances.
Consider Your Audience
When you do a media appearance, or give a presentation, who is the primary audience? Are talking to kids? corporate clients? moms? teens? You want to wear something that communicates relatability while simultaneously positioning yourself as an expert. For example, if you're a creative speaking to room full of corporate clients, this might mean wearing something like a colorful dress, statement earrings, nude heels, and a cropped blazer. The colorful outfit expresses your artistic nature, while the blazer lends authority to your look.
Do a Flash Test
Whether it's a stage, a YouTube set, or a television studio, bright lights can make otherwise fine tops transparent. Do a flash test with your phone (and a trusted friend) to see how sheer your tops and bottom might be under harsh studio lighting. Unfortunately, wearing proper undergarments doesn't solve this problem. You need an outfit that is undoubtedly opaque.
Fit and Flatter Your Body
Always remember that no one can see the size on your tag. We all look better, slimmer, healthier, and happier in clothing that actually fits. Don't squeeze into a too-small size or hide yourself in a tent. If you can't breathe, or you could fit a whole other person in there, it's not the right outfit for you. If you want to take things a step further, visit my post on how to look thinner with clothes.
Don't Distract from Your Message
If you're speaking to a room full of business leaders about how to maximize profitability and all anyone wants to talk about afterwards is where you got your shoes, that can be a problem. When you consider your audience, your message, and your desired outcome, and align your outward presentation to match your intentions, you can avoid these distractions.
Outsource the Process
The most successful people in the world are great outsourcers. If shopping and getting dressed are not tasks you enjoy, consider hiring help. A personal stylist can help you create outfits with confidence. If you're in San Diego, I offer photo shoot styling, which is perfect for clients who need help getting dressed for a media appearance. Of course, I also offer virtual styling for clients outside of San Diego. Visit the Work With Me page to learn more.
The statement top can be an intimidating garment. Like the statement skirt, shoe, or necklace, it works best when everything else is kept simple. Here are a few tips to help you wear your statement top with confidence.
Top: La Vie Rebecca Taylor / Jeans: Universal Thread for Target / Clutch: Rebecca Minkoff, Similar Here / Pumps: Michael Kors / Sunglasses: Persol, Similar Here / Earrings: Argento Vivo
Find a style that flatters you.
Fit is the most important element of any piece of clothing. Find a statement top that flatters you. For women who are broader on top, a cold shoulder statement blouse is wonderful. For women with narrow shoulders, a puff sleeve works well. Fun fact: the technical term for the type of sleeve I'm wearing here is "Leg of Mutton" or gigot in French. The gigot sleeve has been going in and out of style since the 1820s.
Choose a top rendered in a casual fabric.
Statement tops have a lot going on. You are more likely to wear one if you find it comfortable. A blouse rendered in cotton, poplin, or rayon will be appropriate for everyday life. These casual fabrics ensure your look is 2018 rather than 1820.
Keep everything else simple and sleek.
Let your top be the star of the show. Your pants, shoes, and accessories are all supporting players. This is a key reason to have nice basics in your wardrobe, even if they are a bit boring. They allow your statement pieces to shine. With my outfit, I paired my top with light wash skinny jeans, silver hoops, and blue suede pumps. I chose to add a Chevron Stripe clutch. Stripes and florals are nearly always friends. A solid navy or tan bag would also work fabulously.
Make it yours.
I've said it before and I'll say it again--you can alter your clothing to your needs. Taking up shoulder straps and hemming sleeves are simple fixes that make a big difference. Additionally, wrap tops can be adjusted to your liking without visiting the tailor. For this one, I sometimes wear the wrap tied neatly in a bow, and sometimes I let the excess fabric hang down. And, I nearly always scrunch up the sleeves. Tip: if your scrunched sleeves won't stay that way, secure them with an elastic hairband.
Prepare for the stare.
In a world accustomed to t-shirts and gym clothes, wearing a statement top is bound to get you noticed. People will comment on it. Every time I wear this blouse, it starts a conversation with a few random strangers. While waiting for my photographer, I ordered a coffee. The barista complimented my shirt and said she loved how Early 90's it was. I told her, I affectionately call it my Fresh Prince of Bel Air shirt for the same reason. Go into the world knowing you're bound to start a conversation.
If you find a top that is flattering and comfortable, and keep everything else simple, you can rock a crazy shirt with ease. When you know why something works, you'll have the confidence to wear it.
Ready to make a statement?
Shop my favorite statement tops below.
La Vie Rebecca Taylor Pansies Top, $195, Pictured Above
Lauren Ralph Lauren Plus Convertible OTS Top, $89.50
Free People Beneath the Sea Top, $98
Lucky Brand Plus Cold Shoulder Paisley Top, On Sale for $38.96
Wayf Beckett Top, $69
Vince Camuto Ruffled Tiered Top, $89
BCBG Veronika Top, $138
Aqua Striped Cold Shoulder Top, $68
Aqua One Shoulder Floral Print Top, $58
Vince Camuto Striped Ruffle Top, $89
Like pencil skirts and v-neck tops, wide leg pants are one of those rare garments that work for nearly everyone. The trick is figuring out how to wear them without looking like a clown.
Pair with a Fitted Top
While your top doesn't have to be skin tight, a fitted tee or blouse is your best bet. Avoid anything flow-y or draped. To balance out the proportions of a wider look on the bottom, you need something that stays close to the body on the top. If you have a defined natural waist, a high-waist version will work beautifully on you.
Wear a Pointed Toe
Flats and heels can both work with wide leg pants, as long as they are both the pointed toe variety. This helps to elongate the leg line and make us appear taller. In warmer weather, open toe wedges or stacked sandals are also darling with wide leg pants.
Add a Necklace
Statement earrings rage on, but many of us know the impracticality of wearing large earrings at a desk, on the phone, chasing our kids, etc. Add a necklace to your look for an annoyance-free accessory. The visual interest created by the necklace also provides balance to the look while bringing the eye to your face. Ready to add a wide leg look to your outfit rotation? Shop my picks below.
Shop Wide Leg Pants
Topshop Wide Leg Trousers, $95
Please note that Topshop generally runs small and these pants are no exception. Try 1-2 sizes larger than your normal size. For example, a size 6 woman would need the 8. They have a 33" inseam, so taller ladies rejoice.
Halogen High Waist Wide Leg Pants, $89
Nordstrom's Halogen is one of my go-to brands for affordable, stylish workwear. These pants run large, be sure to order one size down. For example, a size 6 woman would need a 4 in these.
Beltaine Chevron Stripe Wide Leg Pants, $148
For my boho-inclined clients, these comfortable striped pants have been a dream. They run true to size.
Birthed by Style Pantry founder Folake Kuye, her clothing line FKSP features sexy, body-con basics and the only pair of white, wide-leg pants I recommend. Her pants have a 34" inseam so they are also perfect for taller ladies. These pants run true to size, but long.
The Fifth Label Changing Course Pants, $90
Looking for a bottom to pair with your black tops? These chic trousers from The Fifth Label are just the thing. They run true to size.
I'm Jaquelyn Wahidi. I take the stress out of getting dressed. As a personal fashion stylist in San Diego, I help women organize their closets, define their style, and shop with intention. My blog features practical style advice for women everywhere. I've been addicted to blazers since 2004.