The first question I get asked when clients book me for a professional headshot is “what should I wear”? In this article, I have compiled all my tips but also included expert advice from 5 local stylists who share their thoughts on wardrobe choices.
My top tip when thinking about what to wear for a professional headshot is to always keep your target audience in mind. With every choice you make, from expression to clothing and background, you will attract some viewers and repel others.
The idea is to attract your ideal client/employer/audience and repel those who are not a good match for you. For example, if you work in the tech industry and are looking to find a job with a cool startup, a very formal headshot with suit and tie may not be putting the right message across. A more relaxed outfit is more likely to attract the employer with the right vibe for you. Or let’s say you’re an interior designer looking to work with clients who love luxurious surroundings: a formal, well put together outfit with great hair and make-up is more likely to attract the right clients than going for an edgy or hippy vibe which will confuse the message. This isn’t about being someone you’re not, it’s about being clear with the image you put across in order to find your tribe!
Lisa Wisdom of Style with Wisdom says: “The best advice I can give is try not to overthink it as you risk portraying someone different to who you truly are. To get the best photos is to ensure you feel great in yourself with what you wear both in colour and style, which may be a process of trial and error before you land on the outfit that makes you exude confidence! This will help make you at ease during the photo shoot ensuring your confidence and personality shine through which is the best representation of you and your business”.
If you are looking to attract different audiences, for example you work both with corporate businesses and private clients, it might be a good idea to bring a couple of different outfits to cover various scenarios (see the “Variety” section below).
If you normally wear branded work clothes or a uniform please do bring them along too. It may sound cliché but a branded apron if you do food preparation is an instant way to tell others what you do. Remember, your photo might be the very first thing they see, especially when it’s your profile image on social media. Make it easy for your audience to understand what you do and your values.
Does your headshot put the right message across? Take a look at my article: “Is your linkedin profile pic damaging your reputation?”
What to avoid
There are no hard and fast rules as this all depends on your body shape, but generally, for a more flattering look, I would avoid sleeveless tops, tight plain T-shirts or high neck jumpers and I would instead favour tops and shirts with an open/v-shaped neckline as they tend to elongate the upper body and be more forgiving.
Don’t worry too much about a small stain on your favourite top, this can easily be fixed in Photoshop, but pleased take a few minutes to iron out creases as they tend to be quite noticeable in photos.
When choosing colours I usually recommend to my clients to go for a colour which goes well with their logo, or at least isn’t going to clash. For example, if your logo/brand/website is all pastel colours, a bright red top and lipstick might look out of place in your instagram feed or “About me” page.
Nina Whitehead of Edits Styling says: “My top tip would be to know what colours suit you and your personal characteristics. When you know the colours that match your skin tone, your hair & eye colour then you are able to match make-up and clothes to your ‘right’ colours. This will also make you feel confident about what colours to wear when having your headshot done & ensure that you look fabulous in the photos! ”
Even if you need one single headshot, it’s always a couple of different tops with you and see what works best. Sometimes your favourite top isn’t the one that works best for the camera. Generally, textures and layers do add interest and make for a more pleasing photo, and the same top with and without a jacket is an easy way to achieve two different looks. During the shoot, I will show you the photos at the back of the camera so that we can finetune together.
Another good reason for bringing a selection of clothes is that it will give you more variety to choose from when picking your favourite(s). You may, for example, need a more formal photo for LinkedIn and a more relaxed look for Instagram.
Jewellery, scarf, ties, hats can also be a great way to compliment your outfit, as long as they are “on brand” and work with the image you’d like to put across in your headshot.
Kasia Hornby of Be Fabulous says: “My mantra: the secret is the detail! The shirt, tie, polo shirt, suit jacket, jewellery etc must coordinate. Deliberate choice of colour matters.”
Is your business headshot long overdue? You can find out more about my services here: https://www.stephaniebelton.com/professional-headshots-st-albans/