What to Wear for Headshots

For headshots, you need to think about what industry you’re in and how people typically dress. But the rules for what people wear are looser than they used to be. There’s no standard expected clothing style as long as they fit well within some general guidelines like professional dress clothes appropriate for the field of work being pursued by each person taking pictures. 

People in corporate businesses and lawyers working at tradition-bound law firms usually wear formal outfits while practicing conservative colors that represent the company’s values. But if you’re an artist, colors that match the artistic endeavor are often used in these photos to show off creativity or even contrast it with their background. Casual attire such as jeans and bright colors can be seen in people around startup technology companies too! 

Here are some tips below that will help guide you to prepare and make the best decision for your headshot photoshoot.

What to wear for headshots

When thinking about color… 

DO wear colors that compliment your skin tone.

I’m Chinese, and I have yellow skin undertones. For this reason, I find that yellow typically doesn’t look great on me.

You probably know what colors look good on you, so stick to those for your headshot!

When in doubt, lay out your clothing options, take a photo, and email it to me. I’m happy to help you select what to wear for headshots.

DO NOT wear pure white clothing. Instead, wear off-white or ivory.

It is recommended to stay away from wearing pure white-colored clothing for headshots. White clothing can overexpose as well as be distracting because of color casts. If you are surrounded by other colors (ie: colored walls, grass, trees, etc.), there’s a possibility of a color cast to project onto your white clothes.

DO think a little about color theory, but don’t stress out too much about this.

Our moods, thoughts, and behaviors are all influenced by the colors around us. This also applies to a headshot session.

  • Light hues make the wearer appear friendlier, approachable, and less threatening. 
  • The dark colors of a formal suit are perceived as more dominant and authoritative. 
  • High-contrast pairings (like a dark jacket paired with light clothes) create powerful images conveying influence and authority. This may resonate well within conservative environments where power dynamics shape interactions between colleagues, bosses/employees, etc.
  • Muted colors symbolize conservatism and evoke feelings of calmness. This can be comforting to some people on an interaction level or for those who have anxiety around being assertive in public settings. 

When thinking about style and fit… 

DO wear clothing that you love and are comfortable in. 

The outfit you choose for your headshot session should be something that makes you feel confident. Not only will the clothes enhance what is already great about yourself, but they’ll make a statement of who you are too!

It’s 2022. Patterns are great! But when in doubt, solids are a timeless choice.

I wouldn’t wear the loudest pattern you own in your closet, but it’s okay to mix in some prints.! 

However, watch out for obnoxious patterns — they often distract from your face! When taking headshots, it’s best to keep away from anything with high-contrast colors in them and instead stick with subtle patterns that have some variance in color rather than patterns with loud, solid hues. 

If you’re unsure about patterns, solid colors are timeless and classic for your headshot, and are always a reliable choice.

[insert photos where patterns work + some with solids]

DO NOT wear clothing with big logos or text.

Logos, text, and images are too distracting for headshots – but they’re totally fine if showcasing a company logo.

DO NOT wear older, worn-out clothing.

Wearing your favorite shirt multiple times can harm the clothing’s appearance over time. This is especially true of brightly-colored clothing that may fade over time and knitted fabrics that could show signs of pilling, as well as an increase in fabric wear during every wash cycle! 

To ensure you always look put together while taking those all-important headshots, make sure to opt for newer pieces instead, so they don’t start showing their age prematurely.

DO NOT wear unfitted clothes. DO invest in tailoring!

Fit is essential, especially for your professional headshot photo session.

If you’re not a model, the best way to make your clothes look good in photographs is to wear them as they fit. Wearing baggy or tight clothing can hinder how people perceive and see you through image capture. Things should be more proportional, so there are no distractions from other parts of the body drawing one away from what should be focused on-if anything at all!

DO bring simple accessories

Think timeless and classic!

Jewelry is a small, but important part of any outfit. They can also be items that draw too much attention. It’s important to make sure they’re not overly flashy and in-your-face when you head into your professional headshot session. 

If you wear glasses, make sure they are wiped clean and no fingerprints and other smudges can be seen in your photo.

Other things to keep in mind:

DO bring more than one outfit! 

Different looks, colors, and textures! 

Bring more than one outfit for your headshot. We often have a makeup artist on staff at my studio, and they can help you choose what will work best based on skin tone and eye color.

DO layer your clothes.

Shirts under blazers or sweaters look great and add dimension and interest.

DO steam and/or iron.

Preparation is everything when it comes to your headshot session. Lay your clothes out. Be sure to steam and iron if necessary. Make sure the clothing fits well. Keep in mind that while photoshop does exist, it’s not ideal to rely on this.

DO communicate what traits you want to convey.

Tell your photographer what you want your headshot to say about you. 

For younger and greener associates, they may want to look older and confident so that they can aim for that next promotion. Criminal defense attorneys may want to look assertive and intimidating. Therapists may want to look distinguished but also approachable and friendly.

DO remember that you will be able to pick your favorite headshot!

For each headshot session, we make it easy for you to be able to see your photos and select your favorites. We connect the camera to a laptop, so your photos will automatically transfer to the computer in real time for you to see.

PERSONAL GROOMING AND SELF-CARE TIPS BEFORE YOUR HEADSHOT SHOOT

DO sleep and hydrate!

Try your hardest to sleep well the nights leading up to the shoot

Hydrate! Drink enough water the day before and the day of. This will help your skin, nails, and lips. Do use chapstick or lip balm the night before to prevent chapped lips.

DO NOT get a haircut the day before.

Especially for men, get your hair cut 4-6 days before our shoot so that you can avoid the “freshly cut” look.

DO invest in professional hair styling.

Don’t be afraid to show your natural self when it comes to hair and makeup. Your hair should look like how you normally wear it, with a few minor adjustments for the camera’s sake! 

Hairspray, gel, or mousse are your friends. If you’re going for a more natural look, just let it dry naturally and then use some light hair products to make sure that the frizzies stay away!

DO invest in professional makeup, even if you want a “natural look.”

Keep in mind that the pictures should represent what you typically wear and be close to how people see you every day.

DO clean up your facial hair.

Love eyebrow threading, waxing, and threading. Details matter, so be sure your beard, mustache, ear hair, noise hair are all tucked in!

RECOMMENDED CLOTHING CHOICES FOR PROFESSIONAL HEADSHOTS

Professional Headshots for Women

Wearing neutral colors for your headshots will ensure that a viewer’s eyes are drawn to you and not the outfit. It is also recommended to wear jewel tones like royal purple, emerald green, or ruby red because they can be flattering with most skin tones, eye colors, and hair colors. 

Avoid anything too bold – such as obnoxious patterns or bright neon.

I find that many women want their faces to be “airbrushed”. While we do provide skin retouching, we always recommend you to look like your headshot!

Professional Headshots for Men

Classic colors are always the best choice for professional headshots. A dark suit with a shirt and tie is a professional staple for many professionals.

For the most professional headshots, wear a tie that is in-between your suit and shirt. A light color on a dark background can make for some striking images; however, avoid wearing overly reflective silk ties if you want to look natural.

It is important to choose the right shirt for your professional headshot if you are not wearing a tie. White shirts without a jacket and tie will lose detail in color and folds; therefore, it’s best to wear something another color to break up white clothing to retain the high quality of the image.

Professional Headshots for Actors and Models

Wearing simple clothing like t-shirts and tanks are the most common outfits for headshots as an actor.

For anyone considering a modeling career, remember that the headshot is about YOU. Stay away from wearing fancy clothes that may typecast you.

Entertainers, including actors and models alike, have loose rules when it comes to headshots. The color of your clothing can be trendy or flashy, as long as it does not take the focus away from your face during photo shoots. Again, I always recommend timeless and classic.

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