Remote calls, interviews, and meetings are becoming more and more popular, and currently very necessary. Technology like Zoom is so widely accessible and has gotten so good that in many cases, it is now better and easier to do things remotely. Just because you are not in person, though, does not mean you shouldn’t do your part to sound and look you best. Here are a few tips for looking good for that Zoom call.
Use Collar Stays
While some people avoid using them, collar stays are a must. Not only do collar stays make your button-down shirt look crisper, but they also improve your overall professional appearance.
Little things, like wearing collar stays, or unwrinkled shirts, matter in the business and professional world. Whether you like to admit or not, people are judging you on your appearance. That doesn’t mean you have to be an Adonis in order to land your next big deal—it does, however, mean that you should take the time to put yourself together in a neat and clean way. Simply put, people want to see that you make an effort in your personal appearance, because doing so indicates to them that you will also make an effort in your business dealing. And I think we can all agree that’s a fair assumption to make.
Collar stays are the epitome of a small touch that makes a big difference. This is especially true during a Zoom meeting where the people you are talking to can usually only see you from about your chest up. Your dress pants and shoes may not matter much during a Zoom meeting, but your shirt, collar, hair, and the like certainly do—so make sure you are not sporting a sloppy-looking collar, and that your sleeve length is appropriate as well.
Colors to Wear with a White Background
If your Zoom background is plain white, you have a lot of options. The thing to remember, though, is that you do not generally want to match your men's dress shirt with your background. If you wear a white slim fit shirt in front of a white background, the camera of the video you are using can make you look like a floating head by blending the colors of your shirt with those of the background. Also, with a white background, stay away from light, bright colors.
What you can wear against a white background, though, is a patterned print, or pretty much any dark color. Black, grey, dark blue, forest green, and other dark colors can all work well.
Colors to Wear with a Patterned Background
Patterned or otherwise busy backgrounds can make things more difficult during a virtual meeting. But don’t worry, you still have options. Before deciding what to wear, you are going to want to find out if the patterned background consists of primarily light or dark colors. In other words, whenyou look at the background, is it bright or dark?
If the background is dark, you are going to want to wear a plain light-colored shirt. This can include white, light blue, light green, light grey, and the like. When wearing light colors, though, you want to keep in mind that certain shades can come off as a little too business casual. If you are a lawyer, for example, and are meeting a new client for the first time over Zoom, you may want to stay away from your lime greens or highlighter yellows. Stick to the basics like a classic fit long sleeve Oxford shirt.
As for a lightly patterned background, you are going to want to go with a plain, dark-colored shirt. This can include black, grey, brown, and the like.
A word of caution: You do not want to go patterned shirt versus patterned background. That is a bad idea, and over video can appear far too “busy,” which looks bad and distracting to the person you are talking to on the other end of your Zoom meeting. So stay away from strong plaid, paisley, houndstooth, or gingham patterns here.
Colors to Wear with a Solid Bright Background
If you have a solid, bright background, you can go with plain dark colors or a darkly colored patterned shirt. Remember, though, when thinking about what to wear during a Zoom meeting, you almost always want to stay away from very “busy” or complex patterns, because they do not generally come off as well over video as they do in-person.
Another thing to keep in mind is that you don’t necessarily want to have just a darker version of whatever color is in your background. For example, if your background is light blue, wearing a dark blue shirt is not the solution. That can come off poorly over video. Instead, what you should do is pick a different yet complementary dark color. For example, black or dark grey both go well with light blue. No matter the color, you also want to ensure that the fabric and fit of your men's dress shirt are appropriate. Some common fabrics for men's dress shirts are twill, poplin, dobby, broadcloth, Supima, and cotton dress shirts. Depending on your body type, you might want to consider a stretch dress shirt, a slim fit dress shirt, a big & tall dress shirt, or even an extra slim fit dress shirt.
Tie or No Tie?
Whether or not to wear a tie is rarely a deal-breaker—especially during a Zoom meeting, where etiquette is still sometimes a bit unclear. A good rule of thumb, though, is that if you think it’s possible, you should wear a tie, or that the people you are talking to are going to be wearing them, then you probably should be too. You generally don’t want to be the least dressed up person in the room. If the opposite is true and you choose to wear a tie or a bowtie and discover that no one else is, then no big deal! It’s not as if you showed up in a tuxedo or a three-piece suit while everyone else is wearing casual shirts like a t-shirt. In a professional setting, it is worse to be underdressed than overdressed. Other accessories that you should consider adding include things like cufflinks or pocket squares if you really want to make a good impression.
Jacket or No Jacket?
Depending on your Zoom background and the kind of shirt you are wearing, jackets could be an excellent statement. If your jacket has a subtle pattern, you will want to make sure the dress shirt underneath it is plain and simple or visa-versa. But remember that the same basic rules apply when it comes to wearing jackets during a Zoom meeting as they do for wearing dress shirts: If your background is dark, your jacket should be light. And if your background is light, your jacket or blazer should be dark. We always recommend wearing a non-iron and wrinkle free classic fit dress shirt with a jacket since it's more comfortable.
Now that you know how to look good for that next Zoom call, you can start preparing what you are going to talk about or present. Good luck!