What to Wear for Your Headshots

Professional headshots are all about communicating with your audience. It is essential that your look matches what you want your image to convey.  If you have agency-specific attire that is expected for your head shot, that is fine. If not, below are some suggestions for you to consider for the best possible portrait


Consider this:   professional yet approachable, as well as trustworthy and intelligent. That may seem like a lot to fit into one photo, but a big part of your headshot is the wardrobe. Take a few minutes to think about all of the things that make up your personal brand and what you want others to take away from a glance at your profile.


Keep your colors calm.

That means no neon or blindingly bright colors and especially no busy patterns. These distract from your face, which is the main focus of the photo.


Instead, opt for solid, neutral colors and jewel tones (richly saturated colors), which flatter almost any complexion. Avoid flesh tones like beige or tan and keep away from bright white. If you’re looking for a neutral color, go with navy, burgundy, gray or forest green. A great way to choose your outfit color is to find a top that matches the color of your eyes and build the rest of your outfit from there.


Go for classic, instead of trendy.

Gentlemen:I suggest you go for a classic look. Pick your favorite suit that fits well and doesn't bunch up when you button it or when you sit down. Stay away from jackets with tight grids or small herringbone patterns as they can have a moiré pattern effect on camera. Ties look best when their tone lands between the suit and the shirt, so a light shirt, a dark suit, and a tie in a shade somewhere between them. Some ties are too shiny—try to stay away from really reflective, shiny, silk ties.

 If you don't choose to wear a tie, wear a non-white shirt if possible. White shirts without a jacket and tie to break them up can lose detail in the color and folds. Additionally, a white shirt will be the brightest thing in the image and will draw the viewer’s eye away from your face.


If you wear a button-down shirt without a tie, it's best to wear a jacket or sweater of some kind to layer the look. If not, consider a darker color shirt to avoid looking like a head floating on a blank, boxy shirt.  You might want to unbutton a button or two, but make sure your undershirt cannot be seen:  think about wearing a V-neck undershirt or none at all.


Ladies: consider the same as the gentlemen in keeping it classic. Choose a professional suit or business-oriented outfit that is timeless: you shouldn’t be able to tell what decade it is in the photo.


V-necks accentuate the neckline and generally look best on women, but don’t choose something with too low of a neckline, as too much cleavage may also be distracting from the look you are going for. Avoid turtlenecks; they tend to make people look like they have no neck at all in photos.  If the only option for a top is white, wear it under something, such as a suit jacket, cardigan, or sweater.


Executive headshots tend to look better without bare arms, so long sleeves are recommended.  However, if you'd like to try showing arms in a sleeveless blouse or shift dress, we could make it work.  Just bring a blazer or sweater to put over it as an additional option.


Avoid flashy jewelry.

If you’re going to wear earrings or a necklace, keep it simple. Go for small hoops or studs, and avoid loud, colorful pieces that will distract from the rest of your outfit. Statement necklaces may seem fun, but they can easily draw all the focus in an image.  Additionally, they can be very reflective in studio lights.



Make sure you’re comfortable.

It’s essential that you feel at ease in whatever outfit you choose because if you’re uncomfortable, it will definitely show in your photos. If you buy a new outfit for your session, be sure to try it on and wear it around a bit beforehand to make sure you feel comfortable in it. Your clothing reflects who you are, so don’t wear something that feels completely unnatural and unlike your everyday work wardrobe.


Don’t wear your outfit to your session.

You don’t want your chosen blouse or shirt getting wrinkled by your car seatbelt.  Sometimes you are on a tight schedule, but if possible, wear some comfortable clothes to your session and bring your outfit in a garment bag or on hangers to avoid any unexpected wrinkles or stains before the session.


Wear casual bottoms and shoes.

The best thing about headshots is that you don’t have to create a full outfit. Ordinarily a headshot is only head, shoulders, and sometimes a bit of chest; so if this is your casual day, jeans or any other kind of casual bottoms will be fine.   Choose comfortable shoes, as they won’t appear in your images. Of course, those who want a ¾ pose might want to wear a dress/suit trousers as well.  Please advise your photographer in advance if you need something other than a traditional headshot.


Putting together an outfit for your headshots may seem a little overwhelming at first, but just think about how you want to present yourself to the world. You do this every day in your choice of clothes for work, so put the same thought into your outfit for your session!


Don’t Forget Your Personal Appearance

Haircuts—unless you are going to a hair stylist just before your session, it’s best to get haircuts about a week in advance. (I’ve had clients use a stylist before a session and ended up asking for a retake session because they didn’t like the results.)

Face—ladies, unless there is a specific reason for doing so, don’t apply an extreme amount of makeup; the lens will pick up everything; gentlemen, make sure you have a nice, close shave and/or neat trim of facial hair.

Teeth—sure you have brushed those pearly whites. Consider when you will be eating when you schedule your session.



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