There was a huge amount of action during the Argentina-Holland World Cup semi-final last night; unfortunately it was almost entirely confined to ITV pundit Martin O’Neill’s shirt strobing wildly.
The soccer may have been lacklustre, at least compared to the Germany-Brazil match, which was as intoxicating as a quart of Caipirinha on Copacabana, but O’Neill’s shirt was flickering like the lights on a Rio dance floor.
It seems no-one had told him to avoid small checks, because these can “flutter” on screen and create such a distraction, that whatever he was saying, viewers probably didn’t absorb it.
It was a timely lesson in what interviewees should and should not wear on TV, if they want their messages and not their tailoring to do the talking.
So let’s take a whistle-stop tour through the wardrobe:
- Avoid stripes. The narrower they are, the more they can strobe, just like small checks.
- Opt for pastel shirts (blue, pink or green) instead of white, as it can be too stark or mean you blend into the background if that too is white. Black absorbs light and makes the rest of you look too pale.
- Unless you work for Disney, ditch the Mickey Mouse tie, or any other “humorous” neck attire. The joke will only be on you. (On second thoughts, ditch it even if you do work for Disney…)
- Keep everything simple and relatively plain. Anything too jazzy or lively will distract the audience and possibly make them think you’re wearing it for a bet. You’ll lose.
- Avoid anything metallic that may reflect off studio lights, such as tie-clips, bracelets, cuff-links or chunky stainless steel watch straps. (They can also create unwanted noise against a microphone or clunk against a desk.)
- Wear what you’re used to wearing. It’s tempting to don something new for your big TV moment, only to find the collar is too tight, the jacket would challenge Houdini’s talent for escape, the zip jams, or your trousers hang so low, you look like a rap artist.
- Bring spares. Sod’s Law of the Green Room dictates your shaking hand will lead to spilt coffee on your tie or scarf.
- Avoid short sleeves or bare arms – they’re generally too casual and you know what they say about the camera adding pounds…
- Keep jewellery to a minimum. Who hasn’t watched an entire weather forecast, only to have no idea if it’s hail or a heatwave tomorrow, but could describe the presenter’s earrings in detail?
- Finally, it’s not strictly a wardrobe matter, but keep your hair well away from your face. You’ll either find yourself flicking it constantly or will be peering through it like a pair of curtains; either way, it will annoy the hell out of the audience and possibly you.
I’m sure O’Neill didn’t expect his shirt to become such a talking point (and if you really want to know more about why strobing happens, just Google “moiré pattern”), but then again, given there wasn’t a single goal to discuss after 120 minutes, perhaps he should be grateful…