One of the biggest questions when it comes to scheduling a headshot photo session is “What should I wear?”. While you can certainly wear whatever you like, there are definite go-to guidelines that will guarantee that you look your best in photos. Below are my tried and true suggestions when it comes to selecting what to wear for your headshots.
AVOID PATTERNS AND STRIPES
While patterns and stripes might look great day to day, for headshots you definitely want to stick to solid colors and non-distracting fabrics. Bold stripes will also distract the eye away from the most important part of the photo: you! The key here is to keep things tidy and simple so that the attention is on your face, not on what you’re wearing.
CONTRAST WITH YOUR SKIN TONE
As a general rule, professional portraits look best when your skin tone, your clothing and your backdrop all contrast. When choosing what colors to wear, make sure the color is significantly darker or lighter than your skin tone. It is possible to create a great monochromatic headshot as well, but make sure you let us know beforehand so we can advise you on your best options.
FOR A SLIMMER LOOK, CHOOSE FORM-FITTING & FIGURE-HUGGING CLOTHING
It might seem counter intuitive, but in order to look slimmer in photos, you’ll want to select tighter-fitting clothing. The problem with a loose shirt is that it will make you look larger than you are. While in real life, we can see how fabric moves around a body, in a still photograph, you are only seeing the outer shape. This is also why arm placement and empty space around the torso is so important when creating a flattering and slimming pose in portraits – without that space, the person will appear bigger than they really are. Having clothing that hugs your body will allow us to create the most flattering images. This goes for dress shirts and button-downs as well – make sure there’s no loose fabric especially when you sit down.
SELECT SLEEVES THAT ARE FLATTERING
Most people have concerns about the way their arms look. While this isn’t an issue if you’re wearing a suit or a blazer, for women who want to wear a dress in their headshot, sleeves can play a big role. The rule of thumb is to avoid cap sleeves as they will make your shoulders look wider in pictures. If you have toned arms, sleeveless shirts and dresses are recommended, or choose the universally flattering 3/4-length sleeves. Once again, you’ll want to make sure that the sleeves are form-fitting and not puffy as that will make your arms look larger or might draw attention away from your face if the sleeves are elaborately designed.
AVOID OVERLY-CASUAL CLOTHING
Even if you work in an industry where informal dress is the norm, consider donning more formal threads for your headshots if you want to appear more confident and authoritative. Simply wearing more formal clothing can contribute to a feeling of power and control, which can impact your posture and presence in photos.
The way you feel behind the camera will impact how you appear in your photos, so consider formal clothing options that make you feel good about yourself. If you need an extra boost of confidence, stick with formal options like suits, ties and formal blouses.
BRING A VARIETY OF NECKLINES TO MIX UP YOUR LOOKS
Since Signature Headshot sessions include several different looks, I always recommend bringing several neckline options with you to the Studio so we can capture a variety of looks. For women, a V-neck always works well, as well as, a scoop neckline or a bateau. The one neckline I would suggest staying away from is a turtleneck, but this isn’t a hard and fast rule as I’ve definitely photographed several women who were able to pull it off successfully – it just doesn’t always look great on everyone.
AVOID OLDER WORN-OUT CLOTHING
Everyone has one favorite piece of clothing that they’ll wear again and again — but over time, even the nicest blouses and shirts will begin to show signs of wear. This is especially true of brightly-colored clothing or knitted fabrics, which could fade or show signs of pilling of each time it’s washed. To ensure your clothes make you look tailored and put together, opt for newer clothing or “dry clean only” items that won’t show these tell-tale signs of wear.
SELECT CLASSIC JEWELRY AND ACCESSORY PIECES THAT WON’T OVERPOWER YOUR PORTRAIT
When it comes to jewelry or watches, keeping things simple is key. Unless you have a specific style that you’re known for, go for dainty necklaces and bracelets that won’t distract from your face in a portrait. It’s also important for any accessory you decide to wear to go with your outfit, specifically the neckline. It’s best to bring several options that are your favorite or have a special meaning and we can put your full outfit together on-site for your session.
BRING A VARIETY OF COLORS. LIGHTS, DARKS, AND A HUE YOU ENJOY WEARING
Once you’ve eliminated any clothing options with distracting patterns or stripes, you’ll need to select which colors you will wear in your headshot. Certain colors always look good. Blue, navy, and dark gray are classic business attire options that will flatter anyone. You can then branch out to jewel tones like purple or light-colored neutrals like peach or ivory. And it’s always a great idea to have several options for variety.
Many photographers will say to stay away from pure black or pure white, but in the end, it’s all about how you wear it and what background you pair the outfit with. I personally love a white on white or black on black monotone headshot, which really puts the emphasis on the person in the image and not on their clothing, but you also have to be ok with a more artistic approach for your professional image.
The other thing to consider when it comes to color is if you have a specific signature color that you always wear. There are people out there whose entire personal brand revolves around bright pink or yellow – and if that’s the case, you should definitely consider weaving your signature color into your headshot as well.
AND REMEMBER, ANYTHING THAT SHOWS OFF YOUR PERSONAL STYLE IS BEST
One of the biggest things to remember when it comes to selecting what to wear for your headshot is that anything that represents your personal style will be better than a piece of clothing that follows all the rules. If you love patterns or bright colors, those are the pieces you should choose to wear, especially if you’re in the creative field. For men, you can show off your personality with a special tie or a pocket square. Your headshot doesn’t have to be boring or typical if you don’t fit into that description yourself. Showing off your personality will make your headshot memorable and personal, too.