On Wednesday October 13, 2021, Quote This Woman+ held a webinar on what to wear for TV or Zoom media interviews.

The panellists – journalist and editor in chief of explain.co.za Verashni Pillay and QW+ database member Jackie May, founder of sustainable living platform Twyg (twyg.co.za) – had a wealth of experience between them. 

Here are notes from the webinar, in question-and-answer form:

Q: Why are the stakes so high for women+? Why does it matter what we wear?

Verashni: The way we dress is important because multiple studies show that first impressions count; people are very visual, and visual cues matter in a diverse society, they can serve to bridge gaps. And how we dress is a “beautiful expression of self’.

Jackie: It’s important to feel comfortable and confident. If you make an effort, you make other people comfortable. We live in a complex country, it’s important not to alienate people. It’s important to find a balance between feeling good and being overdressed.

Q: To Jackie – you worked in mainstream fashion with buy-in to beauty industry and then did U-turn – what advice to people so they can move away from negative self-image?

Our sense of confidence can be so undermined by the media. The beauty industry is evil, toxic – we don’t need any of these products. The beauty industry undermines people’s confidence, and then makes money from that. Fashion industry is more fun – can be more playful. A good tip to gain confidence about your style: do evening with friends – can do on Zoom. Go through your wardrobe, try on outfits, get and give feedback. Friends know who you are, what you do during the day – they understand how women transition between roles. The wardrobe sharing can be fun.

Q: For Verashni – you’ve had lots of experience of camera, what are your tips?

Verashni’s practical tips:

• Don’t wear shirt with bright patterns, stripes

• Don’t wear white (messes with lighting)/black/navy – if you must wear white, wear a dark jacket over the top (if wearing black be aware there might be a dark background)

• Solid blocks of colour look good – pastels for lighter skins, brighter colours for darker skins

• Remember the technical stuff – you need a lapel that a mic can be pinned on, and a belt or waistband for the mic box

• You can get hot under lights – wear cool clothing

• Beware of visual vampires – eg big earrings – they suck the attention away from you

• Take your own lipstick and foundation

• Go early – the make-up staff love to have time to make you look good!

• Be comfortable – no on can see your feet, you don’t need to wear high heels

• Glasses – generally they can deal with those in TV studios. But hard to deal with in Zoom calls.

• Dress for the impression you are trying to create – if you want to be seen as a professional, don’t go in a golf shirt!

Q: Is it a good idea to talk to a stylist to help find your style?

Jackie: it can be very useful – especially if they come and see your wardrobe to get a sense of what you have, what your style is.

• Don’t wait for special occasions – wear the stuff that makes you feel happy!

• Get dressed for yourself if that makes you happy – even if just working at home

Verashni: Own your expertise and your impact on the world – and that can be in the way you dress; it can give you the assurance that you belong at the table. Don’t silence yourself!

From audience member Quarraisha Abdool Karim

• Focus on the things you want to talk about; keep things simple. Your confidence comes from the knowledge you have 

Jackie:

• Find the balance between looking good and feeling like you. 

Shopping tips

• Look for made in South Africa

• When you can, after pandemic, do free make-up consult to learn how to do your make-up

• Try to find a shop where you can have a relationship with the person who runs it

• Remember second-hand clothes shops, and thrift shopping (sustainable clothing) – takes time, but can be worth doing

QW+ contributes to seeing greater representation in the media of women+ from diverse and unheard backgrounds and identities, as a result closing the gender gap. In South Africa, only one in five experts quoted in the media is a woman. In certain contexts women are rendered close to invisible in the news. QW+ works with over 1000 journalists to ensure they get daily access to these diverse expert sources and our women+ experts have been featured not only in South African news brands, but in news brands across the globe.