Let's all be honest with ourselves. The Coronavirus, and subsequent lock downs, suck. However, it has managed to prove one very important thing to the world-at-large. Most of us can do our jobs from home and rarely need to go into an office to do it.
Yeah, "the man" has been lying to ya, and we aren't talking about Becky Lynch here. That said, one of the most common things we're seeing now is the average video conference from home.
They are being done through numerous mediums. Some are using Skype, especially Skype Business for this. Others are using Zoom, which sort of tricked us a bit as it reminded us of a PBS show from our childhood. It is a good service nevertheless.
During these video conferences, most of us are at home and that can be both good and bad. It is good because we do not have to leave the comfort of our own residence but we also tend to dress comfortably while at home. This will usually lead to people wearing some, shall we say "questionable" clothing items.
Since we are home, it makes sense to not have to dress up, right? This likely depends on the company you're working for as well as who you're having a video conference with. That said, we wanted to go over some proper video conference attire that will help you know the best things to put on should you need to do one.
Where You Work Matters
Of course, if you work at an office that does not have a strict business style dress code, you may still wear relatively nice clothing to work. This might include a button-down shirt, polo t-shirt, etc. Even a flannel overshirt actually can be good work clothing, particularly if it is the Fall or Winter season. In cases like these, your office may not care to do many conference calls.
If they do, then they may expect a mere t-shirt and jeans. Heck, they may avoid the video part altogether and either email you the specifics on things or choose to do a conference call that does not involve video at all. Of course, the latter has often been the way businesses operated when needing a staff member to be part of a particular meeting when they are out of the office.
However, the invention of the video call has made people assume they need to see your face to be completely into what you're saying. We suppose words just are not enough, people.
Most businesses are not going to need to do these at all, but for the ones that do, what you wear surely does matter. These places treat video calls the same way they treat a person in-office. This is key to remember when choosing what you wear.
The Safest Attire
Most of the time, as mentioned above, you can think about what you might wear at the office and pick your clothing out that way. This will make it easier to choose the best thing for your video call. The problem with this is that, quite frankly, these are happening on a webcam. Sometimes, they are pretty crappy and then you have to deal with a person's Wi-Fi, which may or may not be good.
The last thing you need to do with all of these possible issues is to wear something stupid. That said, the safest bet is a dress shirt at all times. This will ensure that you have chosen a business attire worthy of your office building. Therefore, it is also perfect for the video call too. You can even add-in a tie and/or dress jacket if you so desire.
However, we feel a dress shirt and tie is likely all you need to wear for things to go off without a hitch. For women, a nice top might just consist of the dress shirt sans tie. A dress does not make sense when it'll likely be an issue when the most revealing part of the dress is often up-top. So wearing a bra and/or undershirt with a dress shirt is all you really need to shoot for; no need to tuck!
Sadly, there is often one drawback that many people do not consider when doing these calls. It's what happens BELOW the camera. We think you know where we're going with this.
Little Jimmy & Jamie Need To Stay Hidden
First off, what you call your southern-body junk is your own choice. However, we're writing the article so we'll choose the name of them for now. That's right, we're the one who knocks today, Walter. Sorry, we almost broke bad for a second.
Whether you're a man or woman, let's all just get this out of the way, most of us are not wearing jeans or dress pants out of frame while in a video conference call. We might very well be in our underwear or pajamas, perhaps nothing at all. We're talking to you, Steve. Every office has that one guy.
This is not exactly a bad thing, because as mentioned, a lot of us do this. The only drawback is that you have to be very aware of the frame you're in before moving.
The way to avoid any issue with people on the video call knowing anything is by simply keeping everything below your mid-chest hidden. This will allow you to move around to get comfortable while never worrying about possibly showing something. You'll be in frame with your face an full head, which is all that really matters here.
From a framing standpoint, even a normal cameraman in broadcasting school is taught to frame a person in 3 distinct ways. Long, Medium, and Tight. The tight close-up isn't needed here, just the medium standalone shot obviously. Therefore, you just need to keep yourself in this sector.
But What If I Have To Get Up?
We get it, people. Meetings can be long and your kids are possibly home and you need to deal with things they might be screwing up. Heck, someone from UPS could finally be delivering that 100 rolls of toilet paper you ordered earlier this month. Trust us, we'd never keep you from that hoarder-worthy amount of TP. We guess you need to be prepared if the S**T hits the fan, right? Hopefully, this is not literal though.
However, you still may need to get up. This means you'll need to be careful. If you've done as we mentioned and framed yourself right, then you can merely slide out of the video. This can at times still be complicated and people only do it halfway. The good rule of thumb is to look at your arm and make sure it is completely out of the shot before you get up.
Remember, you're bending forward and may even need to turn to get up from a chair or couch. Something like Jimmie or Jamie may still be seen or your hindquarters. If you're aware of your placement, you won't have to worry about this.
This is all, of course, revolving around the no pants problem. If you have a skirt, jeans, or dress pants on. Then getting up at any point is not an issue and neither truly is the framing.
We should also mention that before leaving your computer, it might be best to make sure people are aware of this. Just getting up and leaving can be a bit awkward. Remember to consider the same slide-in situation when coming back, should yee be pantless upon returning.
Consider Your Environment
We know, this seems a bit odd regarding an article on the attire you need to wear on a video conference call. However, it is true that your environment plays a huge role in what you'll wear. For example, if it is hot outside, even in an air-conditioned area...you need to consider the material of the dress shirt you're wearing. If you are prone to sweat, this will happen on video the same as at the office.
Thus, you need to wear an undershirt to avoid any issues.
Also, be sure to avoid sitting in front of a glass window or other reflective surface. Particularly, if you have other windows in front of you or a door that lets in light. It is also an issue with an overhead light that is right above you. You'll likely see this mostly in dining rooms where the overhead light is right above your table.
Why is it something to avoid? These surfaces will reflect the light, allowing it to bounce back. This, in turn, creates a reflection in a window or other glass surface. This means what you may see in front of your laptop will now be seen in the reflection. Thus, you could do all that cool slide-in stuff....but still be seen without pants because your window was level with your webcam.
We do not think we need to tell you to not sit in front of a mirror, right? It is the same concept. People just do not think about this, so it happens a lot more than you might think.