Managing Director Simon Cundey and Joint Managing Director Alex Cooke reveal their tips for looking smart on Zoom
Simon Cundey and Alex Cooke have noticed a dismaying decline in gentlemen’s wardrobes as more people are conducting meetings by Zoom and no longer commuting into the office on a daily basis.
‘There’s a tendency on Zoom to look sloppy,’ says Alex bluntly, ‘gentlemen are appearing in shorts or trackies with T-Shirts looking as if they’ve just had their Weetabix and might be on their way straight back to bed! It’s important to look presentable, as if you care – and that means dressing up a bit.’
Simon agrees and says, ‘A jacket helpeth man! You can look comfortable without looking a mess. A jacket, even over a T-shirt, immediately makes you look as if you mean business. We work a lot with Gerry McGovern, Design Director at Land Rover, and even when he’s in a field being filmed talking about a new off-road car, he’ll look sharp and ready for action. It’s not about looking formal but about looking pulled together and a good jacket or suit will always do that.’
‘If you’re not going to wear a jacket or tie, at least make sure you have a good, pressed shirt on,’ says Alex. ‘You can be reporting from a war zone where you’re not exactly going to be wearing a suit but a crisp, bright blue shirt can instantly transform a man and make him look efficient and alert and not as if he’s just got up.’
Even in a suit, it’s worth being aware of how the camera can adjust for our home lighting on Zoom and that can often mean we don’t end up looking as smart as we would like to. ‘We advise keeping it simple and steering away from any kind of busy pattern because the camera can play havoc with stripes and checks,’ says Simon. ‘Even a chalk stripe can blur on camera. Plus beware of colours, particularly reds, that can fizz and bleed on camera and start looking lurid.’
‘It’s also best to avoid distracting ties,’ adds Alex. ‘Sometimes people have become fixated on what tie a newsreader is wearing rather than listening to him. And one last thing to think through is how where you sit will affect how you look. If you’re sitting in front of a window and wearing black with pale skin, you can end up a burnt-out blur. Equally if you have dark skin and you’re wearing white, your face will go very dark as the camera compensates for the contrast.’
Finally, be aware of the camera angle. ‘Take time to set up your laptop or phone for Zoom so that you’re properly framed,’ says Simon. ‘Sometimes people come onto Zoom in looming close-ups, their face dominating the screen like a great big egg. Take time to ensure you have a good, straight-on head and shoulder shot and be aware of what’s in the background. When you’re in the middle of making an important point you don’t want other Zoomers wondering why you left your bathroom door open behind you or thinking what a mess your kitchen’s in. If your WiFi dictates you have to Zoom from one of your children’s bedrooms to be near the router, try using one of Zoom’s backdrops or check out Niio.com, an initiative allowing you to curate your own collection of digital art that you can sit on front of. When you’re on Zoom, people will be scrutinizing that small frame for all clues about you so always take a moment to check where you’re sitting, how you’re lit and what you’re wearing. Instead of just showing up in rumpled T-shirt in an untidy bedroom, set yourself with a neutral backdrop or one that defines you – please see me my interview with Kirby Allison here. And wear a jacket. These details will make you appear calm, confident, organised and on top of your game.
And of course Henry Poole is always here to help – please call or contact us online to organise a consultation and we can advise on your Zoom wardrobe and send you swatch samples.