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What to Wear: TV Show Taping

By Amalah

I was offered tickets to go to Oprah on Monday and I have NO idea what to wear as I am working all day and don’t get to watch her show anymore. Someone told me the other day that everyone always looks so fabulous and I don’t want to be the one person who looks like the pale, sickly government staffer that I am. I have $150 in gift certificates to J.Crew from Christmas so I’d like to stay there if possible – any suggestions!?
– Greta

Hmm. So…confession: I don’t watch Oprah. Like, ever. I think the last clip I saw of the show was Tom Cruise jumping on the couch. So I will also have to take your friend’s word for it that the audience members look fabulous.
But! I was on TV last year (in High Definition, at that, ack) and was given a few clothing pointers regarding what looks good on camera:
– don’t wear white
– stay away from bold patterns
– stay away from stripes and plaid
– choose black, jewel tones or deep, dark earth tones
Add to this pile o’ tips the fact that Oprah’s show is filmed in Chicago, where it is currently winter, and you will probably have to stand outside in line for awhile. So…BUNDLE UP. Lots of layers, too, that you can shed once you’re inside in case the studio is sweltering.
Specific suggestions from J.Crew? Hard to make right now, since the website is dominated by the new Spring styles you definitely want to stay with warmer winter clothing. But that just means one thing: SAAAALLLLE RAAAAACCKK! (Do I sound like Oprah? I feel like I’m sounding like Oprah. All Smackdown readers today get a NEEEEWWW CARRRR!)
(No. That was more Price is Right than Oprah. It was also a total lie, either way.)
I know sale items vary from store to store, so stuff that’s on the sale section of the website might not actually be available in-person and in your size, but for example: I’d maybe layer a short-sleeve cashmere sweater with a casual jacket, then pair these with some great-fitting tailored black pants (wool and lined, preferably). I’d wear heels to dress it up (nothing too high for waiting in line, but hey, fabulous does sometimes take a little suffering), some black beads or silver jewelry or maybe a scarf, and done. If I wasn’t feeling super bold, color-wise, I’d opt for one of the more interesting brown cardigans (probably layered over a basic shirt I already own), a tweed pencil skirt, woolen tights and riding boots. (I like brown. I own a lot of brown. I may have actually just described my favorite go-to outfit there.)
This jewel-colored merino dress would also be awesome, paired with a simple black cardigan, if you could stand being outside in tights and knee-high boots. That’s from J.Crew’s Suiting collection, and really anything from there would be appropriate (LOVE J.Crew suits, especially on sale). They have a nice mix of classic black and bright colors, and even if you went with all-black, a suit is easy to dress up: great heels (maybe patent leather or an animal print), a glammy top under the jacket, bold jewelry and maybe an updo for your hair.
Guiding principle, I think, would be to keep it more or less “professional” (nothing revealing or see-through or overly casual), but then mix some fun into the occasion, either with bright colors or fun accessories. And then HAVE FUN. We’ll keep our fingers crossed for you in hopes of some really awesome swag.


About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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  • Tiffany

    January 16, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    My mom was in the Oprah audience once, and was told she could only wear certain colors. You may want to check on that!

  • Cass

    January 16, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    Love the casual jacket. But why oh why is the model rolling her jeans like Katie Holmes???

  • Megan

    January 16, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    Not that it would change your advice, since it’ll be frigid here in DC too, and I know that you get lots of questions way in advance, but I read the question as if Greta were going to the DC Oprah taping on Monday…

  • Catherine Sibuma

    January 16, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    I don’t watch Oprah either for the most part but watched it once several years ago. It was a Q & A show and one of the questions was why everyone looks so great on Oprah and looks like they have been a makeup artist etc. The answer was that they use a great quality film that makes everyone look fantastic!
    I actually worked in film and commercials for quite a few years and the best thing I can tell you is AVOID PRINTS and CHECKS, and sometimes even small plaidish looking stuff. Especially small black and white and other high contrast stuff. Reason being is that is causes strobing, which is that weird flickering you see sometimes in news anchors ties that makes it look like the tie is moving.
    I am with Amy, try to stick with rich and warmer tones and nothing too garish or cool. Tailored, fitted clothing ALWAYS looks better on film. So I would stay away from anything really full, bulky, too big, or blousy unless you are REALLY thin and in that case, knock yourself out. Don’t forget good foundation clothing too, i.e. a good supportive bra. Again, I am with Amy. A good neutral outfit in black, brown, tan, grey, or what ever goes well with your skin tone with some fun accessories like a bright red necklace, or some great turquoise earrings would be a great choice and easy too!

  • Jen L.

    January 16, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    Haven’t done Oprah, but I did attend two tapings of The View when I lived in New York. They told us to wear vibrant colors and avoid busy patterns. Don’t know if it’s the same for Oprah’s show, but I imagine that you’ll look fantastic due to the high quality film, like Catherine said. My one suggestion is to wear something that will stand out a bit and make it easy to find yourself when you watch it! I wore a red shirt the second time I went to The View and found myself easily every time they did an audience shot.
    Have a blast! I hope you get some great give-away loot!!

  • Annie

    January 16, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    I went to an Oprah taping a few years back, and as far as I can remember, there were no ‘rules’ about what people could wear. Even if they pan the audience, you’re only on for a fraction of a second, and will watch for it only because you know where you sat.
    Mostly we spent a lot of time standing on the stairs waiting to get into the studio.

  • TasterSpoon

    January 16, 2009 at 8:14 pm

    I went to an Oprah taping (before the era of the giveaways, so things may have changed) and don’t remember any rules about dress. I do recall a lot of waiting, but it was indoors. Maybe consider a removable layer in case it gets hot under the lights?
    I do remember that before O came out, there was this director guy who coached all of us audience members to practice our extravagant reactions to anything that might happen – frantic applause, astounded gasps, cheering. I felt like such a phony.