What to Wear? Wardrobe and Styling Tips for a Successful Headshot Session

So you’ve decided to invest in new headshots. Congrats! While we all know that finding the right photographer is the single most important component here, styling is the second. One of the top questions I’m asked by my clients, is “What should I wear?”

Once your headshot is booked, don’t wait until the night before to open your closet and mindlessly grab a few things. Well in advance of your appointment, take a careful look at your current clothing options.

Let’s dive into my top 3 styling tips to ensure you look great in your headshots.  

Keep it Simple

Look for items in neutrals colors or in colors that flatter your skin tone. (If you have red under tones in your skin, wearing pink, red or purple is going to draw those red tones out even more). Subtle patterns like thin stripes or prints are fine, just don’t over do it.

If you only ever wear Hawaiian shirts, then by all means, you do you, but grab one that has muted colors rather than vibrant colors. The louder, busier or more flamboyant your shirt, sweater or jacket is, the more your outfit will compete against you as the subject for your headshot.

Consider throwing a jacket or sweater over your patterned shirt to cut down on the distraction. Even for my actor clients, I suggest minimizing patterns unless you need a comedic headshot, then, in that case, anything goes!

Accessories are great in moderation. Avoid statement pieces which will steal your limelight. Keep necklaces super simple or not at all. Small earrings such as studs or tiny hoops are ok. Facial piercings can look cool depending on the outfits you bring (and if your boss approves).

Remember, in a headshot, accessories are more noticeable. In a portrait where more of the body is shown, they are not as distracting. If you are not sure where to start and have no idea what colors or patterns work for you, be sure to bring a variety of options to your headshot session. Your photographer will be able to help guide you into choosing items that flatter you both in color and in fit.

Try Stuff on Ahead of Time

I can’t emphasize enough how important well fitting clothing is! Select items that fit close to your frame. Clothing that is too large, too loose or too baggy and you will add perceived weight to yourself, not to mention lots of wrinkles and bumps that will need dealt with.

Your photographer will have clips handy to cinch down any extra bulk; however, starting off with a well fitting article of clothing makes more sense and will look better in the end. Save that comfy boyfriend sweater or vintage shoulder padded jacket for another day.

Choose Classic Over Trendy

Most of us wouldn’t spend $500 on a trendy shirt that will be out of style in 3 months. Taking a more classic approach to what you wear in your headshot will bring longevity to your photos. Super skinny ties, or wide lapels will date your photo quicker than your eye wrinkles can develop.

Classic doesn’t have to mean boring. You can incorporate flair and you definitely want to keep your personal style alive in your photos, just do it without jumping on the “trend-of-the-month” bandwagon.

In conclusion, the journey to achieving perfect headshots extends beyond the lens—it involves thoughtful consideration of styling choices. As a photographer, I've witnessed the transformative power of well-chosen clothing in elevating a headshot from ordinary to exceptional. By adhering to the principles of simplicity, trying on outfits ahead of time, and favoring classic over trendy, individuals can navigate the nuances of personal style while ensuring their headshots stand the test of time.

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