I’ve become a real pro at isolation. See for yourself: it is day 24 and it’s been a week since I started secretly eating my kids’ chocolate-flavoured cereal as a snack – without milk and with Netflix. Still haven’t been caught. Now, of course, I feel like I’m in the position of teaching you how to do stuff.
O brave new world! A couple of months of you-know-what spreading around the world, a few weeks into the lockdown, and it’s obvious that the way we used to do things is not going to work anymore. The ultimate takeaway rule is pretty simple – “my house is my castle”. Everything is happening at home nowadays – pillow fights and cooking classes, music concerts and yoga retreats.
And then there’s work, of course. Without those fancy co-working spaces, sterile offices or swift meet-ups for a coffee and a contract signing – business is done differently now. The Working From Home era has begun, ladies and gentlemen, and it’s time to start acquiring some new skills. And, of course, one of those skills is looking amazing on a video call. So here you go – a few tips, tricks and hacks on how to look your best during work-related video conferences, whether it’s Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams or what have you. Behold.
Good lighting makes all the difference.
It is definitely a biggie. Lighting is the most important thing to consider if you want to look good on camera. And natural light is by far the best option here. A good way to find a perfect light would be walking around your place with your phone in a selfie mode in order to check yourself out – different rooms, different windows, different angles. You’ll definitely know when you find the right spot – your face would look luxuriously smooth, the black circles under your eyes will turn into gentle shades of wisdom and your hair, well, your hair would look exactly how it looks in real life, sorry.
Hack no. 1
If you don’t have access to the natural light, then the previous paragraph was wasted on you. Okay, the next best thing would be a lamp placed directly in front of where you are sitting, exactly at your eye level – to avoid unnecessary shadowing. If the lamp light is too harsh, you can put a white sheet over it to create a sort of a softbox effect.
Hack no. 2
Don’t have a decent lamp around? No problem. Just use your TV as a lighting source! If you’re able to cast YouTube on your television set, play a video called something like “white screen 10 hours”, sit right in front of it and voila! – your very own light box for that perfectly lit beautiful face of yours. It also might work as a very, very poor choice of YouTube entertainment.
Right angle is everything! I’ll tell you a secret: absolutely every human would look bad under certain angles. If you’ve happened to participate in a video conference and your camera is positioned significantly lower than your eye level, I can guarantee that whoever’s on the other end, they either gonna see your double chin or a turtle neck. And I don’t mean a sophisticated type of knitwear. So level your laptop properly: at your eye level or slightly above.
Hack no. 3
Use a shoe box or stack some magazines on your desk to make sure you get that perfect angle.
Hack no. 4
If you are one of those people who, when photographed, always turn one side of their face to the camera, because they just like it more, knock yourself out – highlight your good side by slightly turning. A simple trick, but deadly effective. Unless your name is Harvey Dent…
You don’t have to use full makeup for video calls, just highlighting your features works well.
When working from home, you’d probably want to keep it casual. So there’s no need for the same makeup routine you had back in the old days when humans would leave their nests to go to the “off-ice”. With that said, if you want to look presentable during a video conference call, there’s still a couple of things you could do that would work perfectly.
Hack no. 5
Skip the foundation! Focus on your mouth and your eyes instead of going through a full-on makeup session. On camera it would look similar to the level of makeup you usually prefer, but without spending too much time.
Like I stated earlier, your hair would look the same whether you are on camera or not. So make sure it’s clean and neatly styled in your usual manner. The rule of thumb here is that your hair needs to look the same way it always does.
Hack no. 6
Well, okay, you can skip the back part hair styling if you can’t be bothered. Just straighten up the front and you’re good to go. Oh, and make sure you don’t turn your head too much!
Wherever you’ve set up your home office make sure you have a good light source.
What to wear
It’s obviously up to you to decide what to wear for a video call as your personal style is something I’m not going to mess with (at least not in this article). Still, I hope a couple of recommendations wouldn’t hurt.
The right colours
A work video call is probably not the best time to experiment with a colour palette. So stick to the colours that you know would look good on you.
Also, as nothing else is going to be seen apart from your top part, make sure it works. So no oversized sweaters please! You would look great in a simple well-fitting top on camera.
Obviously, there’s no need to wear a suit. That would look a bit out of place, to say the least, as we all know that it is not your first choice of clothes if you work from home (hello, sweatpants!). With that said, you still need to look professional during your work call. A nice collared shirt or a fitted sweater would definitely do the trick.
Make sure everything is clean and peaceful behind you. No mess, no kids playing Floor is Lava – a totally controlled environment! Ask your loved ones to not disturb you and be quiet for once. If they are reluctant to do so, plead to their consciousness. If that doesn’t work, threaten them. You know the drill.
Vlad Tichen is a personal stylist for women and men – vladtichen.com