Clothes that fit you well and that you feel confident wearing will make a big difference to how you feel and this will come across in the photos. Here’s some guidance on picking an outfit that works for you!
1. Reflect your Personality and Industry
A good professional headshot should communicate who you are and what you do straight away. You want to look like ‘you’ but depending on the nature of your business, you may want to come across as hip, friendly, creative, knowledgeable or trustworthy too. Think about what part of your personality you want to get across in your image and what works for your industry.
2. Choose Flattering Colours
Jewel tones such as green, blue, purple and yellow are awesome as they are universally flattering. You can also choose a shade that makes your eyes really stand out.
Go for red, orange or pink if you’re feeling bold and confident.
Avoid tones that match your skin – these are not flattering and will make your face blend into your clothes.
White and very light shades as they can often be difficult to expose for a headshot. However, if you’re keen on a light shade, then bring it along and discuss it with your photographer.
3. Consider your Brand Colour Palette
If you're getting your headshot taken to use on your website, you will want to wear colours that fit with your with your brand's colour palette. If you're new to this topic and not sure what colours you are using yet, the following article is a good starting point. Click here for Help Scout's article on colour psychology in marketing.
4. Choose Clothes that Fit you Well
Try on your clothes and check them in front of a mirror beforehand. Do they fit well? Are there any pulled areas e.g. around buttons? Does anything gape? Clothes that are either too tight or too baggy can have the effect of making you look larger than you actually are. Most professional photographers allow clients to bring a range of outfits to a shoot so check beforehand.
Pick simple, flattering necklines. A modest v-neck is universally flattering because it lengthens the neck and displays the décolleté. Opt for blouses with sleeves. If you choose to wear a jacket, pair it with a collarless top. This is modern and keeps the neckline simple and sleek. Crisply ironed shirts by themselves frame the face really well.
6. Add Interest to the Shot
Fine to medium gauge knits work really well because they introduce textural interest. Scarves are great too as they can add colour and interest into a shot. Jackets are great for completely changing a look into something a bit different – simply by adding an extra layer or by adding different shapes into the shot.
7. Avoid Patterns
Large patterns should be avoided as they are distracting and we want the attention to be on your face, not your clothes. However, if you love to wear patterns then keep them very small and if you’re going for stripes, consider that vertical strips will make you appear slimmer and horizontal stripes, wider.
8. Keep Jewellery Simple
Keep jewellery (necklaces / earrings) small and discreet. Large jewellery can go out of fashion quickly and date a photograph. Stick to small, classic items. Necklaces should sit well and not interfere with the necklines of your garments.
If you normally wear glasses, then do wear them in your headshot. Make sure the frames go with your outfit and are sparkly clean and smear-free.
10. Skin & Make-up
Moisturise your skin, including face, neck and hands and any flesh that’s likely to be on show and get an early night or two beforehand.
Aim to keep make-up natural. Apply foundation to even out blemishes but don’t layer it on thickly. Don't worry don’t worry about skin blemishes – you don't even need to cover spots - they can easily be fixed in post. Apply mascara evenly and carefully - not too thick and with good lash separation.
Use a natural colour on lips and cheeks if you need to.
11. Hands & Nails
Clean and tidy nails and hands are essential unless you're sure you only want a close-up headshot. Consider having a professional manicure before the session.
12. Before the shoot
Before the shoot, make sure everything is clean, pressed and ready to go and pop them in a garment bag to bring along to your session. Please don’t stuff your clothes into a shoulder bag and expect them to look good when you take them out.
Choose clothes that suit you, fit you well and that you feel confident wearing – it will make a big difference to how you feel and this will come across in the photos.
If you have any great 'what to wear' tips, then I'd love to hear them!
Paula is a Photography Institute graduate & owner / photographer at Paula Deegan Photography since 2014. Paula creates beautiful, emotive, creative photography for families and professionals across Surrey & South West London.