Headshot Photography

What to Wear for Headshots – 3 Mistakes to Avoid

Photo of author
Written By Nate Torres

In this guide, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about what to wear for a headshot photoshoot.

You’ll want to look your best for your headshot as it is used for many things, from profile pictures on social media sites to professional business sites.

With that being said, there are some don’ts you’ll want to avoid when it comes to picking an outfit on the day of your headshot photoshoot.

We’ll be covering the following topics:

What to Wear for Headshots?

You generally want to wear something that makes you look your best.

That usually means wearing a form-fitting dark solid color and avoiding anything too trendy or “in.”

Here’s an example using an actor’s headshot:

actor headshot example

What to wear for headshots can be a daunting task, as your outfit choice can greatly affect the outcome of the photos. Here are some tips to help you choose the right clothing for your headshots:

1. Solid Colors

When choosing what to wear for headshots, remember that the focus should be on your face, not your outfit.

Solid colors are a safe and classic option for headshots because they don’t detract from the main subject- you.

Bright or neon colors can also be too distracting and may not appear professional. Solid colors allow the focus to remain on your face and help the headshot to appear timeless and elegant.

Neutral colors such as black, white, and gray are always a good choice as they are simple and elegant and won’t detract from the photograph’s subject.

2. Wear Neutrals

Neutral tones such as black, white, gray, or beige are great options for headshots because they don’t detract from your face or compete for attention.

They also tend to look more professional and timeless, which is important if you plan on using your headshot for a long time.

Plus, neutral colors are versatile and can work with various backgrounds and lighting setups. If you’re unsure what color to wear, sticking with a classic neutral is a safe bet.

3. Clothing Fit

Choosing clothing that fits you well is essential to looking and feeling your best in headshots.

Too tight or too loose clothing can be unflattering and distract from your face.

If you wear clothing that is too tight, it can create unflattering bulges and lines.

Conversely, clothing that is too loose can look baggy and sloppy. When choosing clothing for your headshots, ensure it is fitted but not too tight.

Also, remember that your clothing should be comfortable. You want to be able to move around and pose without feeling restricted or uncomfortable.

Choose clothing that allows you to move freely and confidently.

4. Avoid Busy Clothing

When selecting your outfit for headshots, avoid clothing that has large logos, words, or graphics on it.

They can distract from your face and take away from the overall professionalism of the photo.

Instead, opt for clothing that is simple and understated. This will ensure that the focus remains on your face and that your unique personality shines through.

Remember, the purpose of headshots is to showcase you and your brand, not the clothing you wear.

5. Accessories

Accessories are a great way to add some personality to your headshots, but it’s important to keep them simple and minimal.

Avoid wearing large or chunky jewelry, as it can be distracting and take the focus away from your face.

Instead, opt for small earrings or a simple necklace that complements your outfit without overpowering it.

Hats or other headwear should also be avoided, as they can cast shadows on your face and make it more difficult to get a clear, well-lit shot.

6. Consider Your Industry

When deciding what to wear for your headshots, it’s important to consider the industry you work in.

Different industries have different dress codes, so it’s important to dress appropriately for your profession. For instance, if you work in a formal industry such as law or finance, it’s best to wear business attire such as a suit, dress shirt, or blouse.

On the other hand, if you work in a more creative industry, such as fashion or advertising, you may be able to wear more casual attire, such as a trendy blazer, a stylish top or dress, or even a denim jacket.

By dressing appropriately for your industry, you can not only look your best but also convey a sense of professionalism and credibility in your headshots.

It’s also important to note that different companies or organizations may have different dress codes within the same industry, so it’s a good idea to do some research beforehand to get a sense of what’s appropriate.

Ultimately, your goal should be to look polished, put-together, and confident in your headshots, regardless of the industry you work in.

Now let’s take a look at what you should not wear.

What Not to Wear for Headshots

Certain things will make you look like you don’t belong in an office, even if you do. These include:

1. Anything Too Casual

Anything with violent patterns, ragged hoodies with holes, beanies, hats, t-shirts with slogans or logos (can detract from the focus on your face), etc.

If it’s a casual headshot, you are going for this, which is fine. Still, you have to remember that your headshot will usually go on professional sites where you want to represent your personal brand professionally.

2. Mismatching

Mismatching patterns or colors with your skin tone and with the background can make a headshot unappealing visually.

headshot background mismatch
subject and background mismatch

3. Anything Too Revealing

Anything too revealing or tight might create the wrong impressions in your headshot. As remembered, keep it professional.

Even if it is a “casual headshot,” there is still some sort of professionality that you should maintain.

What Should You Wear for Business Headshots?

Business headshots are usually taken in a studio, so the outfit you choose doesn’t have to be anything formal.

However, it’s generally best to wear something professional and conservative for business headshots. That means keeping your clothing well-fitting without any frills or unnecessary accessories.

If it’s for your job or company, we recommend wearing something that you would wear if you had an important meeting in your place of work—if that’s a suit, then wear a suit; if it’s a collared shirt and tie, then wear that.

lawyer headshot outfit

What Should Men Wear for Headshots?

For men: Solid-colored button-downs and dress shirts tend to work well.

Avoid patterns and loud colors. Try not to look too casual by wearing jeans and sneakers or too formal by wearing a suit.

What Should Women Wear for Headshots?

For women: For standard professional headshots, avoid distracting patterns, busy prints, and bold colors.

Save the bright red lipstick for glamour shots unless you are specifically shooting for that look–it’s too severe in most headshot situations (but some photographers like it).

When in doubt about an article of clothing, it’s always best to ask a photographer or a stylist.

What Should Teenage Males Wear for Headshots?

For teenage males: Any conservative casual clothing is fine for studio headshots-just no baggy t-shirts, jerseys, or ripped jeans.

Think more about what you’d wear to school than what you’d wear on a Friday night out.

What Should Teenage Females Wear for Headshots?

For teenage females: If your business headshot is for a teen-oriented publication or website, then you may want to think about wearing something from the current fashion trends — but for most other teenage girls, especially those trying to break into modeling, it’s best to stick with a more conservative and professional look: sleeves and collars.

What Should Kids Wear for Headshots?

For kids: For toddlers and babies, keep it simple and comfortable. You want your child to look relaxed and happy in their portrait, not like they’re headed off to a job interview.

What is the Best Color to Wear for Headshots?

Pretty much any color looks great as long as it’s not too distracting. Black is a flattering option for everyone.

Other good options are dark gray and navy blue. Avoid clothing that doesn’t match or clashes with your skin tone.

author headshot example
stick with neutral colors

Final Thoughts

If you wear something that looks good on you and makes you feel comfortable, then you’re wearing the right thing!

The most important things to avoid are t-shirts with logos or slogans, hoodies, and torn or revealing clothing. Solid colors are always preferable to busy patterns.

This guide is also a part of our Headshot Photography Tips Hub, so be sure to check that out for further headshot photography tips and insights.

Frequently Asked Questions

What necklines are best for headshots?

For headshots, it’s best to opt for simple and classic necklines, such as crewneck or V-neck, that don’t draw attention away from your face. Avoid deep V-necks or scoop necks that may be too revealing.

What is the most flattering angle for headshots?

The most flattering angle for headshots is often a slightly raised angle where the camera is slightly above the subject’s eye level. This helps to elongate the neck and make the face look slimmer.

Should headshots be smiling or serious?

It depends on the purpose and tone of the headshot. If the headshot is for a professional setting, a subtle smile or neutral expression can convey approachability and confidence. If the headshot is for a more creative or personal setting, a smile or other expression can add personality and warmth.