Great headshots should do more than simply capture your face — they should get into the core of who you are and how you want to represent yourself to the world. Your clothing represents a huge part of that image, so it’s natural to be a little nervous about what you’re going to wear!
Buuuttt, the good news is that I absolutely love helping my clients with session styling! After photographing headshots for 9 years, I’ve pieced together lots of tips and tricks to help you look your best. Choosing clothing isn’t so scary if you have a set of guidelines to start with!
General Clothing Tips
Try to limit yourself to 2-3 separate outfits, since the time spent changing will limit the amount of time we have to shoot. So that you have a nice variety, I recommend one casual and one dressy outfit. Add a scarf or blazer to create a quick third outfit.
People with lighter skin tones should avoid light colors like pale yellow. Similarly, people with darker skin tones should avoid dark colors such as navy, dark brown, or black. Portraits look best when there’s significant contrast between skin and clothing.
Wear glasses in your shoot if you wear them every day! However, lens glare can detract from your eyes. You can have your lenses removed for your shoot, or have anti-reflective coating added.
Focus on you!
Please avoid anything that will detract attention from your face, including busy patterns, logos, words, etc.
Test it out.
Try on your clothes a week beforehand, and then again the night before to make sure you feel good in them!
Pants & Shoes
Most shots are photographed from the waist up, so don’t spend too much time worrying about pants or shoes. Pack your nice shoes in your bag and then I’ll let you know if/when your feet show so you can switch.
Copy the Experts
Look for portraits that catch your eye and notice what that person is wearing. A great way to get inspiration is to visit Pinterest and search for “what to wear headshots men/women”. Notice which images catch your eye and why. This is one time when it’s OK to copy!
Material that’s too chunky and will add weight, but you also want the fabric to be substantial enough that your underwear lines don’t show through. Textured fabrics usually photograph really well.
Classic vs. Trendy
Keep your clothing classic and not too trendy so that you can use these images a long way down the road!
Solid jewel tones are always a great go-to option! Avoid bright white and neon.
Tips for the Guys
If you don’t know where to start, here’s my go-to look for guys: a solid long-sleeved button-down shirt with the sleeves rolled up, dark jeans, and dress shoes. I also love the look of a collared shirt paired with a blazer or sweater.
Please have your hair cut about a week before your shoot. If you’re usually a Supercuts kinda guy, this is definitely the occasion to splurge a little on your haircut, as you’ll be using these headshots for a long time. Your hair can completely change the look of your face, and an experienced hair professional will make you look your best. In Boston, aim to spend $50-60 on a good cut.
Shave with a new razor, shaving cream, and a moisturizing after-shave lotion to avoid bumps and redness. Trim up your beard, sideburns, moustache or goatee, especially looking for wiry stray hairs.
If you wear an undershirt, opt for a v-neck with sleeves so that it’s not visible. Ideally, your undershirt should match your skin tone.
Tips for the Ladies
Please avoid strapless clothing, as certain crops can make you look like you’re not wearing clothes at all. It’s also no fun to keep tugging up your dress all evening.
Test it Out
Check your outfits from all possible angles in the mirror, not just the one you like best. Try sitting, squatting, leaning forward, etc. to make sure nothing hangs out that shouldn’t. 😉
Bring a set of bras and strap-adjusting accessories to work with any outfit you want to shoot in. Make sure to keep your straps well hidden, and cut off those pesky hanger loops. Make sure you don’t have any unwanted underwear lines showing through.
Steer away from necklaces unless your neckline looks bare without one. I recommend earrings instead.
For necklines, scoop necks and v-necks work best. Try to avoid a neckline that’s too high, as it can make your neck disappear. If you love an outfit but need help keeping it in place, I highly recommend fashion tape. You can pick this up on Amazon.
If you found this post helpful, be sure to check out the complete session guide for headshots (it’s free)! You’ll find many more tips to rock your new images!