Whether you’re already a pro at video calls or are still getting comfortable with Zoom and other services, preparing for a meeting is a lot different when working from home. The way you present yourself and your home can make a big difference to how professional you appear to colleagues and potential clients.
With so many of us working remotely at the moment, TODAY Style consulted beauty, style and home experts to answer the question: How exactly should you style yourself and your home for video calls? Their answers will help you master the art of video meetings and make the best impression possible.
How to put your best face forward
It’s hard to resist the urge to abandon your makeup routine when you’re working from the comfort of your couch, but video calls give you a good excuse to put your best face forward and make a memorable impression.
“People do remember little details and putting in 10 minutes of effort can make a psychological difference, both for yourself and for how your management or teams see you,” celebrity makeup artist Mary Irwin told TODAY Style.
Makeup can also be an instant mood booster and can help you feel ready to conquer that conference call or video interview with confidence. “It doesn’t have to be a full face, but taking even a few minutes to polish the look can make you appear more in charge. And you can still have sweatpants on since no one can see those,” Irwin said.
Here are a few tips from top makeup experts to help you rock that next video call:
Consider the lighting
Seek out natural light: “Just face the window with the best light. If not, put as much light in front of you as possible, even if that means taking the shade off of a lamp,” Irwin said.
Avoid overhead and backlighting: “Having large windows or lights behind you will create a backlight that will make you appear darker and less lit,” Claudia Soare, president of Anastasia Beverly Hills makeup, said.
Test your lighting: “If you’re curious as to how your makeup will read on a video call, just take a selfie in the same light with the same position your computer is in and adjust from there,” Irwin said.
Accentuate your best features
Frame your face: “Focus on the things that frame the face. Brows, lashes, lips,” Irwin said. Morales suggests applying a pencil to the eyebrows for more detail and a few extra strokes of mascara to brighten the eyes.
Make your pout pop: “I always like a bit more lip for a video call, as the color and movement draws attention to you and what you’re saying,” Irwin said. Garnier brand expert Millie Morales agreed, adding: “For those not used to reds, I would recommend a rich color, even a beautiful darker nude, for the same effect. Ensuring that the colors used on the face are dark and rich prevents you from looking washed out on camera.”
Make those peepers pop, even with glasses
Keep things simple: “Glasses can cast a shadow on the eyes depending on your lighting and camera, so use a lighter hand when defining the eyes and avoid wearing long or very full false lashes under glasses,” Soare said.
Define your eyes: “Keep your makeup essentially the same, but add a few more coats of mascara. Also, be aware of your lighting, since glasses will reflect your light source and can give a lot of glare,” Irwin said.
How to dress for success
Whether you prefer to keep it casual or like to dress up a bit while working from home, figuring out the dress code for video calls can be a bit challenging. But putting some thought into your conference call wardrobe can pay off and help you put your best foot forward.
“Fashion and looking polished for video chats can be a game changer for yourself and any potential clients. When we are working from home and we step up our look, it says to the world that we are honoring our profession and inspiring others to do the same,” celebrity stylist Alison Brooks said.
Mastering your video call style is really quite simple, but there are a few things to consider:
Combine fashion and function
You can have the best of both worlds: “I will get 90% ready for my at-home video calls. Meaning: makeup done, hair done, cute top, but pajama bottoms so I am comfy,” Lyndsay Lamb, star of HGTV’s “Unsellable Houses,” said.
Keep your top polished: “Try a high-collar blouse, pop a chunky necklace on and wear leggings. I live in vintage slips and throw on a turtleneck over my slip or long cardigan for my video chats all the time,” Brooks said. “Most video chats are waist up and if you want to cheat a bit, go ahead.”
Keep yourself motivated: “I like to wear something that has more structure to it, like jeans or a tailored blouse. It will help you sit up straighter and keep you more focused on the tasks at hand. I know when I am in exercise gear or loungewear I have a tendency to melt into the couch,” costume designer and stylist Whitney Anne Adams said.
Keep an eye on colors and prints
Try a bold hue: “Bright colors can give your mood a huge boost and give you a happier outlook on the day ahead. If you’re spending your days on video chats, a bit of color can help boost your coworker’s moods as well. Not feeling very colorful? A monochrome look can help you look pulled together even when life is feeling chaotic,” thredUP merchandiser Kesha Linder said.
Flatter yourself: “Choose a color that looks great with your skin tones. I personally love something in the blue tones. From the lightest blues to a chic navy, it’s a color that looks universally flattering and will make you look polished,” Brooks said.
Choose prints sparingly: “Stay away from prints that are too bold. Keep it simple and modern,” Brooks said.
How to dress up your home for video calls
Dressing for success at the office starts and ends with your outfit, but when you’re conducting video calls, your home is part of the equation. The good news is, no one expects you to transform your home into a decorator’s showroom or to already have a home office. But keeping it tidy can definitely help you look more pulled together and professional.
“It’s sort of like brushing your hair or putting on makeup. Adding those extra steps makes a huge difference on how you feel about yourself and how others perceive you,” said Alessandra Wood, vice president of style at online interior design site Modsy.
Being strategic about where you take video calls in your house can even potentially help you gain the trust of prospective clients.
“Humans subconsciously make an instant judgement based on what we see. For instance, is your new consultant taking a call from a home office that is cluttered or chaotic? We might assume she will handle our account in the same haphazard fashion. Is the new hire’s space tidy, well-curated and professional? Suddenly, our confidence in her competency has skyrocketed,” interior designer Courtney Warren said.
So, where should you start? Look around your house and determine where you’d like to set up shop.
“Don’t force it. If you are not comfortable in your space it will be very apparent during your video call. Just pick a space where you feel relaxed and settle in. Be yourself,” said HGTV star Leslie Davis. “I personally love taking calls from my kitchen table with a cup of coffee. The vibe is right, I am in my element and ready for whatever comes my way.”
The spot where you conduct video calls can often depend on your audience and your relationship with coworkers. “The dining room is a great space because you have a table and chairs that promote good posture. If you’re having a more casual call with close colleagues, you might take it from the sofa,” Wood said.
And one word of advice: Please try to avoid professional video calls in the bedroom or bathroom!
Once again, lighting matters
It might not be the first thing you think about while conducting a video call, but the right lighting can definitely help you put your best foot forward:
Seek natural light: “If you don’t have great natural lighting nearby, use a combination of overheads and task lights to create an optimally lit work space,” Wood said.
Gravitate toward the light: “Use light facing you, even if you have to pull a lamp from another room for this purpose. Remember that light behind you might darken your face to appear backlit, so unless you are in witness protection, this is not a good look for your call,” Warren said.
Show off your space with pride
Add some life to your space: “Using artwork, plants and photos in your surroundings creates a pleasant atmosphere for the call. Small touches, such as a tastefully framed family photo, live green plant or cut flowers from your garden provide thoughtful and warm touches,” Warren said.
Stay true to yourself: “Use color, pattern and pieces you love to create a space that inspires you and feels like one in which you actually want to hang out in. If your WFH space is no fun and has a down-to-business vibe, you might find yourself itching to find distractions,” Wood said.
Eliminate clutter: “Try not to squeeze books into every space on a shelf. Do your best to eliminate distractions in your background so your valuable content and shining personality will take center stage,” Warren said.
Switch up your background
Improvise in a pinch: “If you don’t have time to make your background look good, you can always position yourself closer to a wall and turn the camera to block out unsightliness,” Wood said.
Try a new background on your computer: Sites like West Elm, Modsy and Canva now offer creative video call backdrops you can use to make it feel like you’re anywhere. From beaches to gorgeous interiors you’d see on HGTV or home decor sites, these fun backgrounds can help you and your colleagues escape for a bit. You could even pretend to have a new pet!