What to Wear for Headshots: A Guide to Looking Great

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You’ve booked a headshot session, and you’re excited to see the end result.

But you probably have one nagging question on your mind: What should I wear for headshots?

As a professional headshot photographer, that’s a question I hear a lot. And here’s rule No. 1: wear WHAT YOU LOVE! If you don’t feel great wearing it, leave it at home!

Fortunately, whether you’re looking for professional headshots for marketing or a business headshot, picking out what to wear isn’t as complicated as it seems.

For starters, choose something you feel comfortable in and that accentuates your smile. In most cases, your shoes don’t matter either. No need to spend hours picking out the perfect pair of shoes!

If you follow these simple rules for what to wear for headshots, you’ll feel confident and comfortable on the day of your shoot. If you’re prepping for an upcoming headshot photo shoot, here are some practical tips on what to wear.

General Rules: What to Wear for a Professional Headshot

A well-crafted headshot should be a visual representation of who you are. And there are a few wardrobe choices that can distract and take away from you, the focal point!

Fortunately, if you follow these tips, you can help make your headshots even better. Essential rules for what to wear for business headshots include:

  1. Choose Well-Fitting Clothing - Baggy clothes might be comfortable BUT they don’t photograph well. A chunky sweater adds bulk and might make you appear heavier than you are. Similarly, don’t go too tight. Ill-filling shirts are difficult to photograph. The best solution: Choose form-fitting clothing that accentuates your body.

  2. Dress for Comfort - If you’re planning to wear that shirt you hate just because you think it’ll look great on camera, don’t! Your discomfort will be evident in your photos. Choose something that you’ve tried on, you’ve worn before, and that you’ll wear again.

  3. A Classic Look Ages Well - You might be a trendsetter, and have the perfect fashion forward outfit for your headshot session. But in most cases, a classic look is the better option. When you dress too modern, your headshots will feel dated as soon as the trend goes out of style.

  4. Shoes Aren’t Important - In most cases, your headshots will be taken from the waist up. That means your shoes – and your pants – won’t be seen by viewers. Don’t put too much energy into choosing the perfect shoes for your outfit. And you won’t want to overthink the pants either.

  5. Choose an Appropriate Neckline - Headshots are most commonly cropped around the sternum. That’s why it’s important to choose a neckline that won’t be cropped. A deep V-neck dress might look great, but the bottom of the V will likely be cropped from the image, which looks a little awkward. To avoid this, choose a neckline that sits at or above the collar bone. A few great options include: Crew, jewel, boat and collared necklines. Avoid bows, chunky cowls and deep scoops.

  6. Bring Multiple Looks with You - Having trouble deciding what to wear in your headshots? Here’s the good news: You don’t have to settle on one outfit. Instead, it’s best to bring a few different looks. Most photographers will recommend 4-6 tops, or for you to bring layers with you. If something just doesn’t work with a background or lighting setup, it’s best to have options.

  7. Plan for Contrast - In general, bold, solid colors are best. Patterns, shiny materials, and loud colors distract. It’s best to find a bold color that suits you well and that matches your skin tone. (We’ve got some color coordination tips below!)

  8. Consider Layering Your Look - Layers are a great way to create multiple looks and give options to your photographer. For both men and women, a blazer or sport coat is a helpful addition, especially for marketing headshots. The key is balance: Excessive layers add unnecessary bulk.

Best Colors to Wear for Headshots: Quick Tips

Choosing the best colors to wear for a headshot session can help you stand out. The right colors draw the focus to your eyes, prevent a washed out look, and create a strong profile.

If you’re thinking about what colors to wear for a headshot, here are a few tips:

  • Match Your Skin Tone – Choosing a color that complements your skin tone creates dramatic contrast. Here are a few tips for people with warm, cool or neutral skin tones:

    • Warm – Earthy shades complement warm skin tones nicely in headshots. A few to consider include: Honey, olive green, brown, cream and dusty purples.

    • Cool – Bright, bold colors can help to balance cooler skin tones. A few to consider include: Emerald, vibrant blues, burgundy, rose and lavender.

    • Neutral – Color options for neutral skin tones are typically hues in the middle of warm and cool. A few to consider include: Sky blues, greys, and jade greens.

  • Complement Your Eye Color – The right colors help your eyes pop! One solution: Choose a shade that matches your eye color – e.g. a sapphire for someone with blue eyes. For some more ideas, check out this guide on choosing the right clothing for your eye color. A Helpful Hint: Look for complementary colors in a Color Wheel for some ideas.

  • Choose Solid Colors – Choose a vibrant, solid color over patterns. Patterns can be a huge distraction! Instead, an elegant solid color that complements your skin tone will help you look great.

  • Consider Textured Sweaters and Shirts – Many textures photograph nicely and can add dimension in photos. The key: Don’t overdo it; a solid-colored shirt or top with a simple texture can help you stand out.

  • Avoid Reflective or Shiny Materials – Metallic colors, neons, or any shimmering shirts can be a distraction, and may interfere with lighting. It’s best to avoid bold, shiny patterns and colors.

  • Leave the Jewelry at Home -- Jewelry, especially flashy and chunky pieces, draw attention away from your smile. Also, since the photo will have a tight crop, a hanging pendant might get cropped out of the photo, leaving only a chain in the image. Jewelry can date photos as well, as styles go out of fashion. If you must wear something, stick with simple studs; they look elegant, and they don’t draw a lot of attention.

What to Wear for Business Headshots: Quick Tips

All of these tips apply to business headshots. You’ll want to choose the right color and follow those general rules. But there are some wardrobe considerations that are unique to corporate headshots. These are the best tips for business headshots:

Business Headshot Tips for Women

Women have a wide variety of options of what to wear for headshots. A collared shirt paired with a suit coat is a classic executive look, for example, while a creative professional would look great in a blouse or dress. Here are some tips just for women:

  • Classic Colors -- Patterns date photos. Choose a vibrant color for your shot. If you’ll be wearing a dark suit coat, add a splash of color with a bright collared shirt.

  • Necklines Are Important -- Choose an appropriate neckline for your headshot. Crew, boat and jewel necklines are best for corporate headshots, while shallow V-necks, scoops and halters may also photograph nicely. Helpful Hint: If you’re unsure whether a neckline falls too low, bring a few different looks with you.

  • Jewelry and Accessories -- In business headshots, keep it to a minimum. Chunky pieces, especially necklaces, will distract away from your face. One option: You might choose a scarf, especially if you wear them regularly. Just make sure it complements your blouse.

Business Headshot Tips for Men

In professional headshots, men have a few options. There’s the classic suit-and-tie executive headshot. Yet, business casual headshots (a sport coat and collared shirt) are also popular. And for creative professionals there’s a wide range of wardrobe choices. Here are a few options for men:

  • Choose a Darker Suit -- Dark suits create a bold silhouette; stick to a darker color palette, especially if you have a light or medium skin tone. Lighter suit colors work best if you have a warm skin tone, but if you choose lighter, bring a dark color with you, as well.

  • Avoid Elaborate Textures/Fabrics -- Avoid patterned fabrics like plaids, as well as tweed and herringbone. These patterns distract away from your smile.

  • V-neck Undershirts -- Avoid a crew-neck undershirt that’s visible in photos. For example, in a business casual headshot, your top button might be unbuttoned. A crew-neck undershirt adds bulk at the neckline and distracts. A V-neck is better, while no undershirt is the best option.

  • Necktie Pattern Options -- Ties with subtle patterns are OK. Just make sure you’re coordinating nicely; your tie color should match your suit jacket and shirt. Also: Be careful with loud patterns and colors; these can distract.

  • Casual, Creative Headshots -- Creatives typically ditch the sport coat. If you do that, you’ll want a few looks for your session; bring a collared button-up and a crew- or V-neck sweater. T-shirts may also work for some industries.

Should I Wear My Glasses? If you wear glasses everyday, wear them in your headshot! Just make sure if you have colorful frames, they match your outfit, or choose a neutral frame color, if you have one.

Day-Of Tips: Make Your Wardrobe Look Great

You’ve picked out what to wear for your headshots. And you’ve got 3-5 perfect looks. You’re all set, right? Well, there are a few more simple steps to get your wardrobe ready for your headshot session. Before you head into the studio, be sure to:

  1. Try It on Before Your Session – Try all your clothes on; if it looked great last year, it might not tomorrow. Make sure the fit is great and you feel comfortable.

  2. Make Sure It’s Clean and Pressed – Press any tops. Wrinkles are very difficult to fix in post and are a distraction in photos. The best solution: Get your duds dry-cleaned prior to your shoot.

  3. Bring a Lint Roller and Hangers with You – For last-minute adjustments, a lint roller is a helpful tool. And bring your clothes on hangers to keep them looking crisp.

Now You’re Ready to Look Great for Your Headshot Session

If you’re stressing about what to wear for your headshots, don’t sweat it! These tips will help you look great and help your eyes and smile stand out.

Looking for a headshot photographer in Fort Lauderdale? We can help. On Point Headshots provides top-quality professional and business headshots in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties. Book a headshot photo shoot today with On Point Headshots.