By Kathryn Mademann
Zoom calls are the new arena for our personal and business lives. Since COVID, many of us are working from home, and as we start the day, we are blurring the lines between our personal and business lives. Since you aren’t going to the office, how should you dress for your workday?
Good question! This depends on you and the professional image you would like to portray.
It is important to understand that when you are participating in a Zoom call with a boss, colleague, or group of people, both your presence and professional image will be noted. Personally, I still am adamant that it portrays a level of respect to dress appropriately for a business meeting. Nine months into COVID I still find it perplexing when someone isn’t visible and only displays their name in their personal window. There always will be an undeniable importance to “showing up,” and if you actively choose not to, what message does that send to all involved? Ask yourself this, would you walk into an in-person meeting with a paper bag on your head?
A common question that arises in my conversations is “How can I create a professional look for a Zoom call?” As an image stylist, I am steadfast to the 10-12 basic but special colors that complement our personal canvas. This canvas includes the color of our hair, skin tones, eyes, and even our teeth. Over the years I have coined “Personal Wow” colors, and once you find yours, they become a powerful tool at your disposal.
Beyond color, it is important to understand the relative styles that complement your figure. Wear clothes that are fresh and neat, not too clingy nor baggy. When you look unkempt, you portray to the world you are an unkempt person. In my TEDxTalk, I spoke to the point that you have “7 Seconds to Make a First Impression” which is really three seconds and it’s non-verbal. Harnessing the above are all tools designed to create your image. Non-verbal communication has become a critical part of our Zoom-forward world, and as a professional, you must understand the power of your presence.
For the first time, many of us are at the crossroad of missing “professional dress” and enjoying the freedom of wardrobe. With “relaxed fit” growing more popular, always remind yourself that there is a great mindset that professional dress can achieve. The world is leaving things very blurred right now, but as an expert in creating a personal image, my suggestion is to get dressed every day for work. This may not mean wearing your favorite suit or dress, but focus on creating that professional image we have discussed.
The combination of colors, styles, and grooming can create a powerful and harmonious wardrobe. For men, keep your facial hair, neck and sideburns trimmed. For women, if you wear makeup, keep it simple, although wearing a little extra mascara will brighten your eyes. Wear jewelry, such as gold, silver, or pearls, around your face. It’s very flattering and a great way to brighten up your skin tones and smile.
There is a standing joke that says, “Zoom calls are great because I can sit in my underwear all day and no one will know.” My response is, “you better not spill your hot coffee!” Wear pants, folks!
Quick tips for business Zoom calls
1. Dress in work attire for confidence.
2. Create a “ready-to-go” Zoom wardrobe.
3. Choose colors that complement your personal canvas.
4. Wear styles that complement your figure. Beware if it’s too tight or baggy. Ill-fitting clothes are distracting.
5. Prints can be distracting. Keep the print small and choose colors that match your “personal wow” colors.
6. Be sure your computer screen is level with your face. A simple trick is to put your screen on a box or a pile of books to bring the screen up to the level of your face. It’s distracting to see a half of a head, someone’s eyebrows, nostrils or the ceiling fan.
Kathryn Mademann’s passion is to help women and men discover their unique style, regain confidence and feel great about themselves in their personal and professional lives, knowing that confidence in one’s appearance is empowering. You can follow Kathryn on social media or learn more at km2style.com.