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Though I am a Hair & Makeup artist, I’ve been working on photo and video shoots long enough to be able to provide the following guidelines to anyone who will be appearing in front of a camera. Ideally a shoot will have a designated wardrobe stylist, however this is not always the case due to budget or other restrictions. Whether a stylist will be present or not, these pointers will help you look your best, and keep directors, camera people and stylists all happy.

WARDROBE: If you are going to wear your own clothes, here are some general guidelines of what to bring for your on camera appearance. Of course, if you are given specific directions to create a specific character or ‘look’, follow the guidelines you are given by the person in charge for that shoot.

1) Solid colors are good

2) Pastels and Jewel tones are good, but not vivid, ‘glowing’ colors (i.e. neon).

3) Ironed/Pressed - It is ideal if you can bring your clothing already ironed, steamed or pressed, and in a garment bag to try to keep them wrinkle free. It is understood that this is not always possible, and that things can and will wrinkle with travel. Find out if there will be a stylist or access to a steamer or iron at the shoot if you think your items may wrinkle in transport.

4) Hangers - It is helpful if you bring hangers so that your clothing may be hung up once you are on location. It is much easier to sort through a hanging selection than it is to go through a pile on the couch or floor.

5) Shoes/Socks/Accessories – Don’t forget to bring coordinating shoes and accessories for the different clothing you bring. Things like belts, different colored socks (especially black for men’s dress pants), & hosiery can be easily forgotten, but sorely missed when needed.

6) Selection - Options and choices are good! While that blue button down shirt you brought may look amazing on you - and on camera - someone else may have brought the exact same shirt. They may have already worn it on camera, or you may need to be seen together and don’t want to look like identical twins. If you have more options to choose from, both you and the director will be happier for it.

1) No solid black (it’s very hard to light). There are exceptions to this, but in general it is preferred to stay away from black clothing. Think greys, browns, or navy if dark colors are what you want.

2) No solid white (it’s also very hard to light) Again, exceptions apply, this is a general rule. Off white, cream, beige, soft yellow, light blue – these colors can all give a soft, lighter look with out blowing out the lighting.

3) Avoid bright red - Again, this does not always apply, but some bright reds can appear glowing orange. Darker shades (burgundy, etc.) are usually ok though. 4) No small stripes, small patterns or busy patterns. They can cause what’s called a moiré pattern (wavy lines) with digital photography or video, which looks like an optical illusion. It is very distracting and not camera-friendly, so stay away from these.

5) No Logos or written words on clothing. There are copyright laws that will prevent us from using images of brand names and logos, and can get us into trouble if we do. Use of a logo also implies product or brand endorsement that is not necessarily the case.

6) Clean and Good Condition - Please try to bring clothes that are free of holes, stains or pills (those little balls that form on sweater-like material). Photos can often be retouched, but on video it is much more difficult to hide such things. With almost everything being filmed in high definition these days, things are a lot more detail oriented than they used to be.

7) Avoid shiny jewelry or watches. They can catch the light and cause a glare. Also, anything too distracting (unless it’s a fashion shoot) will take away from the main focus: you!

8) Avoid jingly jewelry (especially bracelets) or accessories if sound will be recorded (this does not apply for still photography). Microphones are very sensitive to sounds will pick up that noise, which may make it difficult to understand the words you are saying.

UNDERGARMENTS: (Women) – If you have the right foundation garments, you will have more clothing options. A really good idea is to come prepared with a skin toned ‘t-shirt’ bra. If you don’t know what this is go to your local department store and ask. Basically it is a very smooth bra with no lace or other fancy details. While frilly can be fun, under certain types of tops those bumpy details can really show through, especially under the bright lights on a set. And maybe under your clothes they look ok, but on some shoots wardrobe may be provided for you, and all of a sudden those details can be very apparent. Wearing a skin toned color is good because no matter what color is placed over it, the under garment will probably not show through if it is close to your skin tone.

Another good choice is to bring one of those stretchy, fitted tank tops (the kind with the spaghetti straps). Not only do they smooth out bra lines, they can actually give the rest of you a little ‘smoothing’ as well! This can be really helpful under certain types of tops and sweaters.

COLOGNE/PERFUME: If there is a wardrobe stylist, and even if there is not, it is best to avoid the use of heavy perfume or cologne. Often a stylist will purchase clothing that needs to be returned after the shoot, or it might belong to their personal collection. You may try on multiple outfits that you don’t end up actually wearing, and those may get returned to a store, or someone else might need to try them on after you. Many people have fragrance allergies or sensitivities, so they will be happier too. Trying to get strong scents out of clothing can be very difficult - even with dry cleaning.

If you can follow these guidelines they not only make you look good (and professional), but you will also be contributing to a smooth running and successful shoot. Good luck!

© 2008 Mimi Pettibone/Stellar Style, all rights reserved

Mimi Pettibone: Hair & Makeup Stylist. © Stellar Style 2008. All rights reserved