What Attire Should You Wear When Public Speaking?

The clothes you wear matter, PERIODT! I know a lot of people want to excuse their way out of that and say “no it doesn’t” but it does. People judge people and people judge you, that is a fact!

Normally I would say who gives a fuck what people think about you, and I do believe that to some degree. But, when it comes to your personal brand in business and how you represent it, it matters A LOT!

As a Public Speaker, what matters most in regards to your attire would be your brand, comfortability, and the audience your speaking in front of.

How am I going to take what you’re speaking about seriously and you looking a mess?! Or you wearing something that is totally opposite of what your brand represents.

For example, would you take a preacher seriously when preaching if they were wearing a thong with flip-flops? Would you even be focused on what they are saying or would you be looking or trying not to look at the thong?

I know that is extreme, but there is a reason that preachers wear particular types of clothing when preaching. Because what you wear matters when it comes to personal branding and also when speaking publicly.

Also, first impressions matter when it comes to what you wear. There have been plenty of studies done that prove this as well.

For example, studies were done where they showed groups of male and females static images of men neck down in bespoke (custom) and off the peg (massed produced) suits for about 5 seconds each and asked them to leave ratings based on five dimensions, trustworthiness, confidence, success, salary, and flexibility.

Long story short, the male wearing bespoke (custom suit) got most of the positive ratings in all the five dimensions. So if you’re on stage speaking and you’re wearing something that does not properly fit you and your talking about money, people may not take you too seriously or believe you are an expert in financial prosperity without a lot of convincing.

Now before you start trying to challenge me and say, that’s not true, I understand there will be exceptions to the rule, but why even bet on that. If you stay ready, you do not have to get ready. It’s better to be safe than sorry, so why dress for success not just on occasion but every time you are speaking publically.

There are some things you would want to be mindful of when you go to speak at events. You can make mistakes even if you are dressing for success that can take away from your speech or presentation in regards to what you are wearing.


Your environment plays a part when you are public speaking. Are you speaking outdoors or indoors? Is there a theme color for the event? For example, are you speaking at an event that the theme colors are pink, maybe for Breast Cancer Awareness?

If you are, you may or may not want to wear pink. If the backdrop on the stage is Pink and you wear an all-pink outfit, you are going to blend in with the stage which may not be so good, especially if its being video recorded.

Is the event outside or inside, if it’s outdoors, maybe a full button down suit would not be a good idea, your going to sweat to death. As an alternative, you can wear a short-sleeve button-up shirt with a tie maybe or maybe the dress code is a little laxer and you can wear something more business casual.

These are just examples of some things to think about. You can look at visuals at the previous years of the event your speaking at or connect with the event organizers for clarity.

Your Brand

Whatever you decide to wear, your branding should be at the forefront. How you infuse your brand messaging and coloring (colors matter) into your look can be done in unique ways, just make sure you make this a priority.

For example, let’s say your brand colors are purple and you are speaking at an event that dress code is business formal. You can wear a black skirt and black blazer with a white blouse under it and wear a purple pump. Matter of fact, purple pumps or shoes all together can be your way of branding yourself and standing out.

Not sure if you watched Clean House with Niecy Nash that used to come on the now-defunct Style Network, but she would always wear a flower in her hair with everything and that became one of the things she was known for at that time.

Me personally I wear black and white everything and want that to be something that I am known for in my brand and it helps me to stand out. If you do not remember my name, you may remember me as the guy who always wears black and white. Being known for that is better than be not known for anything at all, PERIODT!

Also, you do not want to wear something that is too far from your own personal style within your brand. Why? Because that will make you uncomfortable and it will show that you are uncomfortable when wearing it, TRUST ME!

If you need some help with figuring this out, you can always hire a Style Coach (ME) to curate a wardrobe that fits your brand and lifestyle at the same damn time, lol!

Dress To Slay

Dressing well is always a way for me to not only be noticed but also network. When you are dressed nicely, people generally do not mind telling you that. More importantly, its a confidence booster for you. If you feel good about what you wear, you move and may even talk differently.

Dressing well should be something you do every day but especially when public speaking. I love it when I dress to slay, it’s a natural high.


Wear clothes that you are comfortable in and that fit well on you. If you wear something that you have to keep primping and adjusting constantly, that is going to take away from your speech on stage.

Fit is always it in fashion, PERIODT! You also want to wear something you can easily move in. If you are wearing something SUPER tight, walking back and forth on stage is going to look very awkward. Friends don’t let friends wear garments that they are not comfortable in, consider me your friend and don’t do it.

It would not be an Essence Of Style post without giving you some examples of some looks you can dress to slay in when public speaking. This my favorite part of all my posts, so let’s get to it…

Silicon Valley/SXSW Ready

Jeans: High, Shoes: Christian Louboutin, Shirt: Caperni, Bracelet: IMAI, Earrings: Fendi. Bag: Saint Laurent

Wear this when your audience is more laid back with wardrobe and you do not need to do the most, but you need to do more than enough! Your standouts here are noticeable but still subtle. I would notice the earrings and shoes. A subtle slay can also keep the basic away, lol.

A Look To Slay By

Earrings: Eshvi, Pant: Jacquemus, Shirt: Moschino, Shoes: Prada, Blazer: Jacquemus, Bag: Bottega Veneta

If I were to speak at any women’s event, I would wear this. Talk about gaining the trust of a woman, I know blue is the color for trust but ladies would listen to a woman wearing this. They say women should not wear red when speaking but you are not going to wear the bag on stage, so its fine, lol.

Show You Mean Business

Blazer: Anne Klein, Shoes: Le Silla, Dress: Anne Klein, Earrings: Shaun Leane, Bracelet:Chloe, Bag: The Row

When you want to snatch wigs and take names, wear this! A woman who wears this exudes power. I wanted to add some personality to this look so I added the pumps with the intricate detail on the heel. This is certainly something that will be noticed but not too flashy that it will take away from your speech/presentation.

A Touch Of Color Never Hurts

Blazer: Styled, Earrings: Gianvito Rossi, Earrings: Jil Sandar, Pant: Alexander McQueen, Shirt: Ermanno Ermanno, Bag: Givenchy

I mentioned above that adding the color of your brand is a good way to stand out and this would be a cute way to do just that. One of the things that Green represents is nature. If I were a brand that represented anything to do with gardening (cliche I know) or even anything wellness because it also represents renewal, I would consider the color green.

Neutrals Get The Job Done

Shirt: Jil Sander, Shoes: Kenneth Cole New York, Pant: Matthew Bruch, Earrings: Lizzie Fortunato, Bracelet: Draper James, Bag: Yuzefi Dolores

I like this for speaking at a Fashion Event or a Ted Talks. If Fashion is my brand, this look definitely shows that but with a professional edge. You will get noticed for being “pulled up” in a professional way which should keep the audience’s attention without being too distracting.

Playful and Professional

Shirt: Nic + Zoe, Shoes: Sam Edelman, Skirt: Toga, Earrings: Fernando Jorge, Bracelet: Boucheron, Bag: Hermès

You can have fun when dressing when speaking depending on the environment and the audience. I say this look is fun because the skirt is not a traditional skirt, but still comfortable and is easy to move in. The earrings a little more whimsical I will say but still works especially if your brand is a little more fun and not uber professional or corporate.

Outdoor Friendly

Blouse: Diane von Furstenberg, Shoes: Casadei, Pant: Emporio Armani, Earrings: Rejina Pyo Hana, Bag: Elleme, Necklace: Annie

Some events you will speak at may be outdoors and ain’t nobody got time to be hot in a full suit. This look will offer you some ventilation without showing a lot of skin. The fabrics for the top and bottoms are not that thick. I added the necklace for a touch of color and add some style personality to this look.

Get Your Skirt On

Shirt: Nanushka, Bag: Gucci, Skirt: Nanushka, Earrings, Kristin Cavallari, Boots: High

A mini-skirt is not off limits when public speaking. The goal here would be for the skirt to not be too mini. You do not want people to be able to see your goodies while you are on the stage.

It’s safe to wear this skirt for a female audience but with men sometimes it does not take much to distract them (sigh). So maybe not wear something like this when speaking for mixed audiences if you are fearful of sending the wrong message.

There you have it! With any of these looks, you can command the stage in a way to get your messages across through speaking through the microphone and your clothes. Just remember to do your homework beforehand to know how to attack your slay for your big day on stage!

If you need some help with this and want to speak with an expert to help you with your on-stage slay, you can always schedule a call with me by clicking this link or Work With Me in the menu at the top of the screen. I specialize in stage slayage, so you are in good hands!

That’s All Folks!!!

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