If you want to know “What should I wear for professional headshots?” then this is the article for you. As a headshot photographer in Oakham, I will share my top tips on what to wear for professional headshots. Including the best colours for headshots, hair and makeup, necklines and whether to wear your glasses or not. And why you don’t need to worry about posing and whether to smile or not!
What to wear for headshots
Best Colours for Headshots
Black shirts and tops seem to be the most popular for headshots. Maybe because everyone knows that black is flattering, and it’s an easy win for a slim and elegant look. It also has the bonus that it’s not distracting, which is perfect. As we want the focus on you, and not what you’re wearing… well most of the time!
I also find that the simplicity and lightness of white clothing items in headshots looks great too.
That said, I always suggest to my headshot clients they bring several outfits to the session. Including outfits with colour. Except for neon colours, everything else goes. Over time you’ve more than likely gravitated to colours in your wardrobe that you feel suit you better, so stick with those. Headshots can look great in the full spectrum of colours, it’s down to what suits you.
Red, however has a special place. This is one colour that will dominate in any photograph. That’s not to say don’t use it but be aware that it will get attention. If you’re part of a group of people being photographed, say for business or corporate headshots. This may be one colour to avoid. How ever if it’s just for you, and you’d like to stand out and get noticed with your social media profile photos. On LinkedIn or Facebook for example this will certainly do that.
What to Wear for a Headshot?
Dress to impress but be yourself. Making sure to consider your intended audience. Who do you want to see your headshots and what for what purpose? For corporate, are you looking for your next career move, and want to fit right in on the executive board. For business owners, are you looking to show customers a friendly face when they visit your website? What would you wear if you were going to meet your customers or potential employers in person? This is a good place to start.
If you’re investing in professional headshots you want to make the most of your time in the studio. That’s why I recommend to clients bringing several outfits to a headshot session.
Shirts and Blouses
Smart shirts for men and blouses for women. Preferably not short sleeves. These are the staple of what to wear for a business headshot.
Blazers and Jackets
A smart blazer or jacket. This is a quick win to get variety in your photographs without the need for an outfit change.
Ties and Scarves
Ties and scarves. These are another good way to mix up your look, offering both a formal and casual combination.
Business Branded Tops
Branded polo shirts and clothing. This can be a great opportunity for business owners wanting to use headshots alongside any company logos and branding.
Necklines for women. A v-shaped neckline for women can be flattering, beautifying the collar bones and cleavage. From a photographer’s perspective, one thing I don’t like to do, is crop into a v shaped neckline. I find it unbalances the photo. So, the further down a tops neckline is, the more of the body you will see in the final image. I’ll include some examples below.
Well Fitted Clothes
There’s no hiding it. Well fitted clothes are going to look better on camera. If an item of clothing is too small, it will restrict your range of movement and pucker the top. If clothing is too big and baggy, it will lack shape and form and won’t be flattering at all.
One thing to look out for when wearing shirts, is a good fit around. Too tight and your neck skin, how ever lean you are, will overhang the collar. Too loose, and it will look like you need to grow into it. I always have clothing clips with me in the studio, so if needed that is one way to take excess out of baggy tops as a last resort.
What Clothes to Avoid
Sleeveless tops and vests
My rule of thumb is not to wear sleeveless top or vests for your headshots. There are always exceptions and it can look great for some people, but I generally don’t advise it.
Patterns and Designer Logos
Avoid patterns that are too busy and distracting. The focus should be on you for your headshot and not your clothing choices. Again, this is not a hard rule and if you have a personality that is large than life and want to reflect that in what you wear, then go for it. The same is true with designer logos. I would steer clear of having large designer branding and logos on any of your clothing for headshots.
Haircuts and Styling
Women clients often schedule hair appointments before their headshot session. This is not something you have to do but it can lead to great results. If you’re happy styling your own hair, then that’s great. For the guys with short hair I suggest a trip to the barbers anywhere up to 2-3 days before your scheduled headshot appointment. This will make sure you’re looking sharp and fresh for your headshots. Having your hair on point is one thing I highly recommend and worth the effort.
I’m not a makeup artist but have a few tips that will help to look good in your photographs. Keep foundation and concealer to a minimum. Throughout the headshot session we’ll be working with several facial expressions. And in my experience heavy make can cause unnatural creases and lines in your appearance. If there is something about your skin you’d like covering up, let me know and I’ll make sure to check that when editing.
Wearing Glasses for Headshots
Wearing glasses for headshots is not a problem. If you do have a pair of glasses with anti-glare or anti-reflective lenses please do bring those along. Those special coating lenses make it easier to manage unwanted reflections in your headshots. Taking shots with and without glasses is another way to add variety to your final selections. But do think about whether people are used to seeing you and recognising you with or without your glasses.
If possible try not to wear your glasses or sunglasses as you travel to your headshot session. They tend to leave a mark on the bridge of the nose. These can be edited out in post production so don’t worry if not.
Posing, Posture & Smiles
This is not something you need to worry about before a headshot session. As the headshot photographer I’ll have all this under control. From how and where to stand, to what to do with your arms and when to smile. I can’t promise my jokes are funny, but they’ll get a smile.
Further Help & Inspiration
Checkout and follow me on Instagram to get more clothing ideas and inspiration on what to wear for headshots. If you’d like to know more here is my Headshot FAQ with a comprehensive list of questions and answers. There is also a great article for taking headshots at home, if professional headshots are not in your budget right now.