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Stay Sharp: Zoom Etiquette and Fashion

The top photo is me sitting in my “She Loft” as it’s known, zooming. The second is the view that my colleagues could actually see. Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft’s Teams or even WebEx, has changed everything. EVERYTHING. Including fashion. How many of us are dressing top up and yoga pants down? I don’t have many professional zooms myself so polished leisurewear is usually sufficient. But I put on makeup and do my hair because it makes me look serious about the situation. I remember at the beginning when everyone was camera off but I was always camera on because you know me “please someone look at my hair, makeup, clothes, please!” But frankly cameras on is the only way to connect and it’s part of the new normal protocol. This is going to be a two phase post. My friend April, who's a television marketing professional, is going to give us some advice on how to set the stage for the perfect zoom and fashion recommendations from the perspective of what looks best on camera. Then I will make zoom fashion, hair and make up recommendations.

How to Set the Stage for a Professional Zoom

Zoom Location:

  1. Controlling noise and the potential for interruptions is very important. Rooms with doors you can lock are preferable. A room free of loud noises such as refrigerators or other appliances, fans, or street noises is ideal.

  2. Sit against a background free of distracting items and clutter. However, avoid sitting against bare white or light-colored walls.

  3. Please keep in mind that anything behind you will be visible. You may want to move personal items, like family photos, if you are not comfortable with them being visible.

  4. An ideal location will have lots of natural light from windows. We will want you to face the windows so the light is on your face, not have them behind you.

  5. Plan to have 1-2 lamps on hand in case you need to add additional lighting.

  6. Have a few large text books or a monitor stand available in case we need to elevate your laptop or monitor to better frame the view of you.

Zoom Clothing:

  1. Test your outfit to make sure it looks good on camera. Check with someone else if you’re not sure.

  2. Wear something comfortable, but professional. The shot will be from the waist up, so we recommend a nice blouse, button-up shirt, or sweater, for example.

  3. Avoid wearing fine stripes, herringbone, checks, or busy patterns that can distract the viewer or buzz on camera.

  4. Avoid stark white, black or red. Pastel shirts work well on screen.

  5. Ties, scarves, and other accessories can provide a nice complementary accent.

  6. Avoid wearing large earrings/jewelry as they can be distracting and can also cause audio issues.

  7. Avoid hair products that shine.

How to Get Camera Ready

Notice how April, from a professional standpoints refers to it as clothing and not fashion. Let’s dig into top up fashion and beauty. Sounds funny, doesn’t it. Note the imperfections in my hair from photo one that you can’t see on zoom. Also note that while I’m sitting next to a shoe rack and bar cart (it really is a She Loft in here) you can’t see it in my zoom angle. It looks like I’m sitting in front of a regular old window. You might have even noticed that this is an angle of this room you’ve never seen before and that’s because the other chair is in front of some artwork of lips and that’s not really work appropriate. I will point out that I am breaking April’s window rule. If this window were open and I would look blown out so keep that in mind. Thanks for that tip April, but as you know any other view of this room has shoes or clothes and the curtains could be closed.

You may be thinking why am I zooming from a room full of shoes, using a TV tray? Well because as April mentioned you need a quiet space with minimal noise. My husband and I now share an office and we can’t both zoom or even work frankly. If I am anywhere else on the main floor you might get my 9 year old in the background yelling at a classmate about the harmful nature of imperial colonialism. They’re studying Gandhi. Yeah she’s that kid and it’s bad zoom etiquette. Words I never thought would come out of my mouth for all sorts of reasons, "Sweetie, you can't yell at kids over the internet about your differing opinions on the British Empire." I’d like to shout out to Table-Mate who made this tray table I work on, who donated 30 tables to April’s son’s school for kids who had no workspace at home.

Here are some recommendations I have to easily transform your casual wear into something more professional. The first photo will be what the whole outfit looks like and the last will be what it looks like on zoom. You might notice, I am wearing a lot of black and a white blazer. First, good catch, I broke April's rules...sort of. At no point am I wearing black without breaking it up with other colors and the white blazer is over the black night shirt. Both are broken up by an interesting gold necklace.

First let's talk about shawls and scarves. These are easy ways to look more dressed up then you are, but the drawback is that everyone else has already figured this out. Doesn’t make it a bad idea if you don’t care about such things.

Poncho Shawl or Tassle $30

Cashmere Shawl $140 (I recommend burgundy for optimal success)

Large Knit Scarf $16 (see pictures on how to wrap)

Tartan Infinity Scarf $13

Lightweight Set of Infinity Scarfs $17

Radiant Creations Scarfs (these are from a small business with an amazing mission and they’re the beautiful ones in my pictures below)

Now let’s talk Pajamas. You should put on a real shirt, but I know some of you aren’t going to. These will help you look more dressed then you are.

Button Up PJs in Black with Lace Detail $34 (black or wine will make these look more polished then grey)

Button Up Cotton Pjs with Piping $38 (I recommend a bold color such as eggplant but it was sold out in lage so I went with navy)

Oversized Sleeping Shirt Dress $23 (for more strict dress codes I’d go black or wine, but for more casual I’d hit up the army green)

Long Sleepshirt $25 (try the tie-dye if it’s a casual meeting or blue and white stripe or a non-heathered color for more serious meetings)

If those aren’t cutting it our next step is to throw on a blazer over top of either your Pjs or a more appropriate top.

Fleece Blazer $32 (this looks polished while being comfortable)

Cashmere Blend Blazer $184 (talk about serious comfort, can someone buy me one?)

Open Front Blazer $24 (this is a great option for people who will have more of their body on screen)

Cardigans are another way to add polish to your look. All of these are super on trend and don't break any of April's rules.

Chunky Knit Cardigan $35

Button Up Knit Cardigan $36

Color Block Cardigan $32

Bodyfriend Cardigan $100

Finally, you have a very cozy but more casual option, the pullover. This is my go to look for most of the zooming I have to do, which aren’t particularly professional. I am wearing one now and sitting in the wrong chair. Now about the pullovers. Warning, be weary of putting a pullover on after you do your hair.

Plaid Fuzzy Pullover $38

Quarter Zip Fuzzy Pullover $32

Asymmetrical Button Top Pullover $26

Turtleneck Fleece Pullover $30

Last But Not Least

Finally, let’s talk about jewelry. Jewelry is the perfect way to look more dressed up then you are. That gold pendant necklace I am wearing below, your eyes are really drawn to it. It’s simple but interesting. Here's a gold evil eye pendant necklace that will do the job and a silver initial pendant that are Mandie approved. I don’t wear earrings but you can make a statement with those too. I like these silver and mother of pearl earrings or these gold leopard acrylic earrings. April was clear that large earrings can be distracting, so use a critical eye in choosing what’s best for your situation. Do not wear earrings if wearing headphones. I am also wearing my wedding band and a David Yurman ring. Here’s a cute dupe.

As for makeup and hair I recorded two YouTube videos that are a quick reference guide on how to put minimal effort in for maximum zoom success. I’m using in my hair video: spiral hair ties, tresemme hairspray, and a teasing brush. In the make up video I am using: Tarte BB Cream, brown liquid eyeshadow,Tarte Lights Camera Lashes mascara, Dior Forever Skin Corrector, a Mauve lip stain, Mac bronzer, and Mac blush.

Here is the link to my fuzzy slippers and of course my yoga pants. Get yourself an initial coffee mug and you’re good to go. Here's to feeling confident zooming!

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