How to video-call in style
Keep it professional, dress comfortably but well and ensure that children and pets don’t interrupt your business calls
Tempting as it might be to go pants-less during the fifth video-conference call of the day, evidence from around the world suggests this is probably not a good idea—at some point you will slip up, someone will record it, and it will be on YouTube forever.
At a time when Zoom calls have taken over our professional and social lives and even the most narcissistic among us are getting tired of seeing our faces on the screen, it is still important to maintain standards (take a shower, for instance). Also, some consideration is warranted for others on the con-call who also have to see your face and upper torso multiple times a day.
Keeping this in mind, Lounge reached out to stylists and fashion consultants to get some tips on proper video-call etiquette and styling, and how to get your game face on during these trying times. Image consultant Yatan Ahluwalia, chief of operations at Y&E Consultancy & Services, says it is absolutely essential to be well-groomed and comfortably but appropriately dressed during business calls. “There shouldn’t be any difference between the way people see you at work and the way they see you on a screen. You obviously can’t be in pyjamas. You need to maintain professionalism," says Ahluwalia. So you don’t have to suit-up, and you can lose the tie, but wear a shirt if you are a man, or a formal-ish blouse if you are a woman.
“It can’t be something that looks like you were roaming around the house in," Ahluwalia says, scolding a little. “If you want to experiment a little, maybe wear a printed shirt with stripes or checks…in terms of colours, go with greys, blues and blacks. For the ladies, they can keep things muted with clothes in pastel tones. Nothing too bright or in-your-face."
It’s also important to be aware of your background—so no children running around behind you (unless you are a fan of Robert Kelly, the South Korea-based political analyst whose children famously interrupted his interview with the BBC back in 2017) and no dogs trying to make love to the potted plant behind you.
“Look at it like getting shot for a passport photograph. You want to look good and presentable because that’s a photo that will be around for a long time," says fashion consultant Nisha Jhangiani. Your canvas to express your personality is small but you are still looking to create an impact for someone to trust you to do any job—so dress and groom accordingly. Jhangiani recommends minimal make-up for women but asserts that some amount of basic grooming is essential—so you don’t have to go full make-up-tutorial with the eyeshadow but a quick application of eyeliner and lipstick is not out of line.
While you don’t want to draw too much attention to yourself with a loud tie-dye shirt, you don’t want to be invisible either. So Jhangiani recommends dressing according to your background. “If you are against a white wall, wearing a white shirt will just blend you in and it won’t work," she says.
For men, it’s important to groom facial hair as well, so keep your beard trimmed as you would if you were going in to the office every day. “If you have a beard and that’s your regular look, I would definitely not suggest that you shave it off.... For instance, if you shave for an interview conference call and two weeks later you are working with a beard, it doesn’t make sense. Own the beard if you have one but keep it neat," says Jhangiani.
Finally, when we don’t have workplaces to dress up for or friends and dates to meet over the weekend, and when the days blend into each other and all your nice clothes remain neatly stacked in the closet, remember that a con-call is the perfect excuse to shake yourself up a bit, practise some self-care and remind yourself that there are still people out there. So go put on that shirt (and don’t forget the pants).