One of the most common—and most important—questions I’m asked is “What should I wear for my headshot session?” Don’t worry we’ve got you covered. Remember three basic wardrobe principles and you’ll find that looking your best is as easy as—well, 1,2,3!
1. Color and Patterns
2. Style and Fit
1. Color and Patterns
It’s tempting to stick with black and white, but a splash of color can really make your image pop.
Men and Women
Black and/or white may be your “go to” wardrobe choice, and that’s fine, but photographically, pulling details out of black or white can be challenging. So if you love wearing black or white, by all means bring it along, but also bring along colorful options. Men, please no all-black suit coats or sport coats, unless they have obvious texture.
If you know “your colors,” bring items from that palette, or try hues that bring out your eye color and enhance your skin tone. Rich colors and jewel tones are great choices for almost all women.
Guys, avoid a plain white shirt. If white shirts are your signature look, accentuate it with an interesting tie. Avoid the all black jacket, unless it has texture. Charcoal grey is great choice or anything with color or texture. Whatever you bring, make sure you feel good wearing it. If you feel good, you’ll look good.
2. Women’s Style and Fit
Crew, boat or narrow v-necks are always flattering and will always lay nicely. We want to be sure we can see your top after the image is cropped. Standup collars don’t always “behave,” so I suggest women avoid them. If you typically wear a jacket to work, bring a couple of jacket choices, but you do not need to wear a jacket to look professional. I’ve photographed plenty of c-suite women without jackets and without sacrificing their professionalism and status. Also, make sure your clothes fit well. Try them on a few days before your session just to check. Generally, a little snug is better than baggy and loose.
- short sleeves or sleeveless styles (unless you’ve got “buff” arms and want to show them off)
- low necklines
- busy or trendy patterns or plaids
- shiny fabrics — no silk or satin
2. Men’s Style and Fit
Men, if you’re going business casual (specifically, no tie) bring a couple of sport coats. A sport coat without a tie is an intentional wardrobe choice. But if you wear a suit coat without a tie, it gives the impression that you are dressing “down.”
Tie = suit coat OR sport coat.
NO tie = sport coat but NOT a suit coat.
Button-down collars rarely lay nicely in a photo. AVOID button down collars, unless it’s an intentional style choice for you.
Make sure your clothes fit well. This is especially important for men’s collars, sports coats and suit jackets. Guys, take a look at your jacket & shirt, watching for gaps at the back of your neck. Conversely, watch that your shirt isn’t too tight, causing your neck to “bulge” over your collar−even a little bulge will look terrible in camera. Think ahead, and invest in tailoring before your session if necessary. It will be money well spent for a professional headshot and a professional overall look.
Guys, if you’re not confident tying a great tie knot, tie it before you come to the studio and slip it over your head. A sloppy tie knot, looks like just that—sloppy. The best tie not by far is the Pratt or Shelby Knot.
3. Women’s Accessories
Less is more. Keep jewelry to a minimum (unless it is your signature look). A few jewelry tips:
- Stud earrings are best—simple pearls, diamonds or other gemstones.
- Hoops and dangling earrings can interfere with your hair and get lost in your portrait.
- If you have jewelry that has special meaning for you, by all means bring it along. But in the end, we want all of the attention on your face not your clothes and jewelry.
- Big jewelry draws attention away from you, and your portrait should be all about you.
- If your signature brand is big jewelry, however, bring it along, and we’ll choose the best options for your headshot.
FINAL tips for both men and women
- Don’t wear your portrait wardrobe in the car; seat belts = wrinkles. Instead, bring your clean, neatly pressed pieces to the session on hangers.
- Make sure everything is clean, pressed and fits well.
- Bring at least three to four choices. We only need above the waist for headshots. But if you feel more confident by putting on the full wardrobe, feel free to bring the pants and shoes along.
- Also, take a few minutes to browse our headshot gallery, and you’ll see some great examples of good wardrobe options.
Eyeglasses and lens glare can be tricky. For more information about eyeglasses, take a look at our post with eyeglass tips. If you normally wear glasses, plan to wear them for your picture. It’s ideal if they have a non-glare coating, but if they don’t, consider borrowing a pair of glassless frames for your session; otherwise, we can remove the glass glare in post-production for an additional charge.
” This website definitely has all the information and facts I wanted about this subject and didn’t know who to ask “
I totally agree with your philosophy in regards to your clothing recommendations for your clients. Very helpful for a new photographer and an old hand. I’ve been doing (I hate this word) head shots. So I try to polish it up a little with calling them executive portraits. I’ve been doing this near 40 years, for just about every business in our area.(Olympia, WA) From employee of the month to our governors. I’ve done this rodeo before.
Last week I had a client who was just hated her portrait. I pulled out all the tricks I had, not happening! She would not smile, she came across as if she was mad. I’ve offered to re do the portrait several times, no reply. I’ve emailed and phoned her to reschedule her I guess I should be grateful she hasn’t called back, she will just hate how she looks no matter what I do. I’ve had hard client before and Ive been able to get good results. This one has me stumped. Thanks for taking time to listen
BTW, I enjoyed your work. Very well done indeed.
Thank you for your comment, Steve, and for visiting our site. It’s always a pleasure to meet a fellow portrait photographer. I’m sorry to hear that you were not able to make your recent client happy. We, also, offer a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee. Any chance you could have a phone call with your client. Sometimes you just to need hear firsthand what they don’t like. Good luck!
More diverse sample images, please. No dark brown tone is currently represented for reference.
That’s good feedback. We have a very diverse clientele and headshot gallery. But I can see that adding some diversity to this page would be good. Thank you for the suggestion.
I like your recommendation to avoid solid white shirts and solid black jackets. My wife and I are considering getting new head shots for our business profiles this year. We may consider finding a photographer that specializes in business head shots for recommendations on what to wear.
Thanks for visiting, James! And, yes, if you are looking for new headshots, it is definitely worth the effort and investment to hire someone who specializes in business headshots. Good luck 🙂
I am going to be graduating from college in a few short months, and I need to start looking for a full-time electrical engineering job. One of the first things I need to do is get a professional headshot, and I am thinking about buying some professional, comfortable clothing for the picture. Thanks for helping me understand that I need to find colors that enhance my skin tone.
Thanks for explaining that jewel tones are a good choice for women who are unsure of their ideal color palette. My sister is planning on applying for a new position next year and wants to have professional headshots taken beforehand to include with her applications. I’ll have to share this advice with her since I know she can sometimes get overwhelmed with trying to find the perfect outfit!