What to Wear for Headshots? A Simple Guide


What to wear for headshots? This is a real life question that I get asked a lot before a headshot session. There are some simple style tips to keep in mind when planning your headshot outfit that will make sure that your your session is a success.

Dress for your industry

The most important thing to remember when planning what you’re going to be photographed in is to dress based on the industry you work in.

For example, if you are in the corporate world and you are after a corporate headshot it is important to wear professional attire such as a blazer and collared shirt if that’s the norm in your office. Or alternatively if you are an actor wanting to update your actor headshots, more casual attire is appropriate and you could wear things that reflect your personal style.

This is an important thing to remember because your professional headshot is often the first thing that people see and more importunely what people will remember. You don’t want to give the wrong impression or wrong message to your potential clients or casting directors by not looking the part, not appearing professional or in some cases not authentic.

Colour palette

Another really important thing to consider is the colours that will be in your photos. Most headshots will be photographed inside a studio with different coloured backdrops. Your back ground colour should influence your wardrobe choices and vice versa. It is important these two elements complement each other. Ultimately choosing your colour palette will depend on what colours suit you and complement you skin tone, hair and eyes.

Most photographers will either give you a choice of backdrop colours or tell you which they will be using. A good rule of thumb is to stick with neutral colours. Wearing neutral colours like black, white, beige, brown, navy blue, dark green and grey will usually work with most backgrounds.

If your personal style is brighter and you want to wear bold shades or prints you would simply flip the scenario and opt for a neutral background.

If you are wanting a classic headshot taken on a plain white background – (this is a typical requirement for casting agencies and some work places) the number one rule is do not wear white! You should always go for darker colors so that you don’t blend into the background or look washed out.

professional headshot of a women in a Melbourne photography studio
This was a talent agency headshot where the clients face is the focus and a white background is required.

Clothing choices – avoid distractions

You should be the main focus in your headshot image – choosing the right clothing is key. One way to achieve this is to make sure there is no distractions in the image by keeping things simple. There are a couple of ways to do this.

Consider the fit of your clothing

Even though in a traditional headshot session just your head and shoulders will be shown, how your clothes fit you is still important. Baggy clothing does not photograph well in a headshot photo as you will only be seeing the top half of the outfit. Fitted or structured clothing is a better choice as it will give your top half some shape and not detract focus away.

If you are not a fan of fitted clothing adding a good fitting leather jacket or suit jacket over a plain shirt or t-shirt can make all of the difference.

professional headshot of a woman on a grey backdrop
We added a structured denim jacket over the top of my clients t-shirt to frame her and create shape.

Choose simple clothing and accessories

Less is more when it comes to business headshots. You should avoid wearing anything that has large visible branding on it, strong patterns and other accessories that draw attention. Good alternatives are solid colours and simple jewellery.

Wardrobe staples is a good starting point for any headshot outfit. Wearing clothes that are classic and simple will add longevity to your headshot and prevent it from outdating as quickly.

A classic outfit example for a model, actor or creative is a fitted plain t-shirt and jeans with basic stud earrings. A classic outfit example for a corporate headshot is a black suit over a plain shirt.

However this does not mean you should stay away from colour or that you need to stick to what has been done before. Simply take these principals and classic wardrobe staples and adjust them to what clothing you have, your style and industry.

professional headshot of a woman in a printed dress
This an example of a client wearing a colourful print. This headshot works because we contrasted the bold busy print against a plain dark backdrop.

It’s important to remain authentic and show your style and personality. If you typically wear colour and want that to be captured there are ways this can be done. This an example of a client wearing a colourful print. This headshot works because we contrasted the bold busy print against a plain dark backdrop. Most headshot photographers will be able to tailor make a session to match your clothing style.

Do you wear glasses?

If you usually wear glasses I would recommend incorporating them into your photoshoot. You can have shots with and without them and then make your decision afterwards.

Be prepared

If in doubt about what to wear I always encourage my clients to reach out to me before their session so that I can help them with their clothing choices. I like many do struggle to make decisions so I would also recommend bringing a few options that are staples with you to your session.

If your headshots are being used for a specific purpose like at your workplace or being submitted to a talent agency it’s important to check with them first to see if they have any requirements or suggestions on what to wear, background colour and specific shots. This is really important and as a photographer it’s information that i must know before hand in order to deliver the best result from our photo session.

Planning what you are going to wear and trying it all on together in advance is key. This will save stress and time on the day of your shoot. When preparing your outfit make sure it is ironed or steamed, clean and that you have the right under garments.

Clothing wrinkles, stains and visible bra straps can be very distracting and can’t always be edited out. The best way to avoid these things is to be organised and try on everything before your headshot session.

Professional headshots

Having a having your photo taken professionally has many benefits. Not only will you walk away with a great headshot that will help you level up, you also get the photographers expertise and advice.

Are you looking for professional headshots or personal branding photos in Melbourne? I’m based in the eastern suburbs and specialise in portrait photography for business owners and professionals. Head over to my headshot photography page or my personal branding page to find out more.

Ready to book? Get in touch over on the contact page, or book now.

Angela Pezzimenti Photography

Angela is a professional photographer based in Melbourne specialising in portraits, family mini sessions, headshots and personal branding photos.