For our female entrepreneur series, we want to tackle a question that must have popped up on a female founders’ mind at one point: What makeup should I wear to pitches? What should I wear if I’ve to give a talk somewhere? Wouldn’t it be easy not to think about that at all? That’s why we have some tips for you!
There’s not a lot of advice about that on the internet (apart from pieces like this that might come in handy if you’re Hillary Clinton). And if there is, it mostly centres around the question what clothes to wear. If you’re trying to apply rules that apply to similar situations – say, important business meetings, job interviews, you’re losing the focus at what a pitch is about.
What to wear
So I turned to Astrid, twindly founder and CEO, who has half a dozen pitches under her belt. At the beginning of her career she went to a pitch class but the question of makeup was mostly left out. Nevertheless, there was some wisdom there. “Apart from keeping your posture and controlling your voice, what stayed with me most is what I call ‘keeping me on my toes’. So what shoes to wear? In trainers you feel comfortable and at home, while in stilettos, there’s the real chance of stumbling. You don’t want any of that. You want to be fully aware and sharp. So I found a pair of high heels that is not too high, but not as comfortable as my chucks either. That’s generally a good advice that I try to incorporate in my whole look – walk that line between comfy and professional.” (Heels also make her feel taller and make you remember to stand straight all the time, she added – and that’s important on a stage.)
It goes without saying that you should look polished and professional, but also remember to wear something that doesn’t show that you sweat (white is usually not a good idea), because chances are high you’re incredibly nervous. For bigger conferences, it also pays off to wear a statement piece. It makes you stand out from the crowd, and you’re easy to spot and recognised when people want to talk to you during coffee breaks.
For Astrid, the most important thing, though, is that she knows she looks good so she can concentrate wholly on pitching. That also means she has, by now, a signature look. “It’s just easier,” she told me. “I don’t have to think about it any longer and just focus on my content.” She usually wears a black jumpsuit, high heels, maybe a batik scarf that’s a nod to her heritage (she’s Indonesian) and neutral makeup with red lips.
Makeup for pitches
First, make sure that neither your lipstick transfers to your teeth, or your mascara nor eyeshadows smudge. Perhaps do a test run or at least do a quick check when you’re in the bathroom!
I wonder how she came up with her’s. “I chose what I feel confident in. And that comes from experience and test runs. You feel more confident when you know you look good. Red lips do that for me. It makes me feel like a boss, like I can go out and rock this thing!” Astrid’s favourite lipstick for pitches and talks is MAC Riri Woo (this is a limited edition, but a very similar shade is Ruby Woo), a classic red matte that suits almost everybody. Second favourite is Burberry Bright Poppy, a vampy violet that reads elegant and polished on her medium-dark skintone.
If you’re shying away from makeup, think about this, though – you’re standing on a stage in bright lights. You don’t want to look washed-out. Colour actually is your friend here and at least wearing a somewhat stronger lipstick will help a lot. Spin it like you want, makeup makes you look more present and stand out in those surroundings.
So if you’re thinking about that neutral makeup, think again. (I actually encourage you to read Kate’s post here about experimenting with looks that are suitable for working surroundings. You can easily see how it pays off to know your own face and what suits you.) The focus is on you, it should be on you, so you should turn that to your advantage and don’t be afraid to stand out. You’re pitching or talking about something that you’re passionate about, and that should show.
Be confident and reflect that
Astrid, when asked about some general advice, tells me: “Prepare your pitch. A lot and some more. And never forget that your audience is there because they want to listen to you! They’re there to see you rock it. So go out and do that.”
And makeup-wise? “Just wear anything that makes you feel ‘I’m owning it!’ Because pitching is all about energy and presence (you might also want to have a look at this ted talk about this as well). Otherwise people will fall asleep.”