What should an MC wear? What is good Master of Ceremony Attire?
It is a great question and there are probably just as many answers as there are MC’s. We all develop our own style that hopefully reflects our personality. But I think it can boil down to this …
Rule Number One of Master of Ceremony Attire – Be the best dressed person in the room.
Now this doesn’t mean you wear the same Master of Ceremony Clothing for every occasion! It means you take into consideration what the Dress Code is for the event and then going one step further in your Master of Ceremony Attire. If everyone is Dress Code Casual, then you go Smart Casual. If they are Smart Casual you should upgrade to Business or Cocktail Attire and so on. If you are unsure it’s probably better to Dress Up, rather than Dress Down.
The danger however is, if you are too much different from them, eg your Master of Ceremony Attire is Formal while they are Casual in their Clothing you will find it much harder to connect to the audience. They will either feel uncomfortable or you will. Likewise, if you are Master of Ceremony for a Wedding, you don’t want to upstage the Bride & Groom. But you still want to grab and command attention. It’s a fine line. We’ll be uploading a Gallery of great examples here and on Pinterest soon.
Having a good briefing session with your client can help get a feel for the group and what they wear. I will often see if I can find photos of the conference the year before as this will give you a great guide to the demographics of the group. Many associations have galleries of photos on their websites or in their newsletter.
There are lots of photos throughout the site of good Master of Ceremony Attire. If you want an Overview of the site CLICK HERE.
Resources for Master of Ceremony Clothing
The web provides so many resources it’s often hard to know where to start. A search for “Master of Ceremony Attire” or “Master of Ceremony Clothing” will yield great results on Google, Pinterest or Instagram.
One strategy I suggest for you is to “model’ yourself on someone else. Firstly, have a think about your age, body type, hair and general “look.” Now, is there a singer, actor, politician etc who sort of matches you. Choose someone you like. Then search them up on Social or event type pages. You don’t want to copy what they wear as a character in the movies, though that might give you ideas, rather, see what they wear – at an awards night, at a press conference, seen coming out of a fancy restaurant, making an appearance in court etc. You will get heaps of ideas and they will be relevant to your age and body type.
For instance, as you know from the photos I’m closer to a George Clooney, Richard Gere, Pierce Brosnan age than say a Bruno Mars, Leonardo DiCaprio or Ryan Gosling age! So those are the people I would be looking at. My female MC colleagues should obviously be looking at their own set of people and this strategy works just as well for them.
This is an excellent approach and I urge you to try it out.
Approaching an Image Consultant is another solution. I’ve met quite a few over the years at conferences and through National Speakers Association events. While I’ve never engaged one on a professional level, I’m always ready to listen to any comments they make on a casual basis. “Oh, that’s a great tie” etc. But if you are both members of the same association and get on well, you may be able to “trade” services, think of a win-win or get a good discount on a professional session with them.
One question I always ask in the MC Briefing session, does your event have a theme? What about your Brand Colour? I always ask this because I know my wife is going to ask me later when she helps me select my Master of Ceremony Clothing for the assignment. ( Here’s a great list of things you should ask your client at a briefing. BRIEFING article.)
Brand Colour is a great way that you can “theme” what you wear. For gentlemen it could just be a matter of selecting an appropriate coloured tie or pocket handkerchief for your suit. For the ladies, a scarf or blouse could match their colour.
Now don’t underestimate the power of the appropriate colour! Many years ago I was engaged to run a small workshop at a large conference on a island resort, Hamilton Island in Queensland. I wasn’t the MC, just doing a small daytime thing for some delegates. My client invited me to the gala dinner as he had a spare seat. About an hour before the dinner the main conference organiser approached me and asked if I could introduce the Dinner Sponsor during dinner and then the Guest Entertainer who was actually a friend of mine. The main MC had not been doing a great job and they really wanted someone else to do it that night. No problems, it was just going to be 5 minutes. Luckily I had a smart bright jacket to wear, the same bold purple/blue as you can see in the photos. And guess what the Sponsors Brand colour was? Exactly the same. The Client was amazed. The Sponsor was amazed. They mentioned it during their speech and the conference organiser mentioned it the next day. I’ve gone on to do many tens of thousands of dollars of assignments with both that organiser and that sponsor!
Master of Ceremony Props!
Props can be used if they fit and match a colour or theme. I always have my MC leather portfolio with me at assignments, but if a clipboard is more appropriate I will switch to that. I have a few different coloured ones and a quick trip to an office supply company could fill any gaps. You can also print out a logo and stick that onto the back of the clipboard. In the past I’ve made up custom cards like a quiz master with the logo showing. Your clients will love you for doing this.
Keep an eye out for instant props as well. These are the things that you find at your assignment. Everyone might get a bag or a cap that you can also use. I sometimes add a few odd fun things into the conference bag and bring them out. If I’m doing the hilarious “Breakfast Giveaway” routine as outlined in the ExpertMC Toolkit and Resource Manual I will often pull the prizes out from the conference bag.
Don’t forget accessories like Spectacles, Pens & Jewellery. My wife and I both wear glasses for reading and we have found a brilliant company here in Australia called Dresden, who make great cheap frames from recycled plastic. The beauty of these is that we interchange the lens from frame to frame. We have about 9 pairs already and can quite often match a company colour!
Can you wear a Costume for your Master of Ceremony Attire?
A big YES, but make sure it’s relevant!
Just because your Master of Ceremony Clothing gets a laugh when you first walk out, the joke will quickly wear thin if the Attire is not in some way related to the Industry, Theme or Topic of the Event.
If you’ve had a browse through the site already you may have seen some of the Master of Ceremony Attire I have used at various events.
There’s a 70’s Disco outfit, a gangster, a 40’s Zoot Suit etc. I have a friend who has an old style Golfing Outfit with Plus Fours etc that he uses if his event is held at a Golf Course.
My suggestion here, if you are going to have a costume as your Master of Ceremony Dress, it’s important to establish yourself first, following Rule Number One. Then you can use the outfit later to greater impact. So, if its a multi day event, your Master of Ceremony Attire for the first day might be the Business Suit and then on the second day, when they know you, you can wake them up in the morning with something different. If it’s an evening event, perhaps a dinner, you might wear a different jacket later in the night.
An alternative approach is to wear the Fancy Dress first, get the laugh, show people you are in on the action, but then find an appropriate time to slip back into your normal attire.
Fancy Dress Nights?
These can actually be a challenge when deciding your Master of Ceremony Dress. Everyone else has a costume, what about you? Once again, Rule Number One applies. Be the Best Dressed in the room. You either go the extra mile and out do them OR don’t wear Fancy Dress and retain that edge. Or perhaps just a clever twist. (James Bond works well for men!)
The most Important Master of Ceremony Tip!
As an MC, especially if you are going to get into Corporate MC work, one important tip, is to get comfortable shoes! You’ll be on your feet a lot, up and down off stage, moving about checking on speakers and often on floors that are unforgiving. Large Conference Centres and Hotel Ballrooms often are cold hard concrete covered with a thin tough carpet. They can be tough on your feet. And if you work in the exhibition space or on the trade floor even more so. Money spent on good comfortable shoes is money well spent on your Master of Ceremony Attire.
Video Version of MC Attire Article – 6 minutes