20 Most Suitable Outfits to Wear for Professional Headshots

Christine Steuber
Sep 4, 2022
Do you have a close-up photoshoot soon and don't know what to wear? Check out my 20 outfit ideas to wear to headshots.

For many, close-up photo sessions are already a reason to panic, and not knowing what to wear for headshots just adds to the stress. But does it have to be that way?

Of course, not! However, when you have your close-ups done professionally, there are some rules you need to follow to look your best and get a proper final result. 

That’s why I’ve put together this comprehensive guide with the most suitable outfits to wear for professional headshots. I’m sure you’ll find options that will help express your personality in the best possible way. 

Let’s dive in!

What is a Headshot?

A professional headshot is a photo of your upper body, mainly the head and shoulders, used for business purposes. Professional headshots are often attached to resumes and job networking portals. If you want to leave the right impression on job recruiters and colleagues, you need to get a proper close-up photo made in a studio.

Importance of professional headshots

People should get a corporate headshot if they want to showcase their professionalism and their serious approach to their job. A professional close-up helps build trust among your clientele. 

Each career has its requirements for close-up photos. For instance, if you’re working as a model, you’ll need high-quality modeling headshots representing the best features of your face. The same goes for acting, but when it comes to business headshots, the requirements are not as strict.  

Also, you can use close-ups to level up your professional social media presence. For instance, you will need a LinkedIn headshot to attract recruiters. Business owners also need professional business headshots to leave a lasting impression on potential clients.

What to Wear for Headshots – General Styling Recommendations

Now, it’s finally time to discuss the dos and don’ts of dressing up for close-ups. Choosing what to wear for headshots can be tricky, but there are simple steps you can follow to slay your outfit.

The following eight tips will help you be prepared for your upcoming professional headshot photoshoot. Let’s get you ready.

Tip #1: Be careful with the choice of colors

First and foremost, you need to make sure there’s a contrast between the background and the colors of your clothes. However, avoid wearing nude shades as they might blend with your skin, and it will seem like you’re not wearing anything. 

Neon colors are also not recommended since they don’t come out well in photographs and are extremely distracting and intense. However, this is true mostly for business and LinkedIn close-ups, but if you’re a model, you can definitely get away with it. Here’s an example to prove it:

neon clothes in photoshot Pinterest
Credit: Pinterest

Overall, when choosing an outfit color, you can get help from color theory, according to which each color reflects a certain mood.

Tip #2: Don’t wear too much white

Although white might seem an unmistakable color for a headshot, try not to overuse it. When a person wears all white, it creates exposure issues for the photographer, and oftentimes the person appears washed out. 

It’s especially true for those with pale skin – you will get lost in your white outfits. Take a look at this example – although this is a super cute headshot, the person with pale skin wearing white clothes and a hat completely disappears in the white background:

white clothes on white background Pinterest
Credit: Pinterest

So, I recommend breaking the white with a blazer of a different color.

Tip #3: Avoid strong patterns

Patterns can be a type of self-expression. However, in professional photoshoots, they can be quite distractive. Therefore, when choosing what to wear for headshots, you need to keep the attention on yourself without adding patterns. 

However, if you can’t go without patterns, make sure they take only a small portion of your outfit. For instance, it can be a small pattern on a pocket or sleeves but not much.

Tip #4: Clothes with logos and pictures are a no-go

Wearing clothes with logos or pictures creates a huge distraction in a professional headshot. Remember, you’re showcasing your brand and not someone else’s company. 

Having logos and pictures will draw all attention to that part instead of emphasizing yourself. This image proves what I mean:

t-shirt with logo headshot Pinterest
Credit: Pinterest

So, make sure to avoid this mistake to get a good photo.

Tip #5: Steer clear of sleeveless tops and plunging necklines

Showing too much skin with open tops for headshots is not very professional, so you should avoid wearing sleeveless shirts with deep necklines. The photo below shows what not to do:

sleeveless top headshot Pinterest
Credit: Pinterest

So, when choosing what to wear for headshots, you need to wear something more conservative. 

Besides, sleeveless shirts like tank tops don’t look good on professional photoshoots and can even flash some bra straps, which some photographers may edit out and some may not, so it’s better not to risk it.

Tip #6: Mind the fit

Make sure to wear fitted clothes rather than loose and baggy pieces. Snug clothes look better in photos, while loose-fitting items can be slightly distracting.

Also, if you’re wearing a shirt, make sure to button it up all the way without leaving a loose collar.

Tip #7: Keep away from glitter and shine

Shiny clothes with glitter are another mistake that will distract attention from you. Besides, such clothes don’t always look good in photos since they reflect light. The same applies to the makeup for a headshot – it’s best to avoid glitter. However, you can still pull it off at a modeling close-up photoshoot:

glitter makeup headshot Pinterest
Credit: Pinterest

However, if you still want to wear a glittery outfit during a photoshoot, you need to ask the photographer about it beforehand. Otherwise, the lighting and glitter combo may ruin the photos.

Tip #8: Iron your clothes

I’m sure you want to look as put together as possible in a professional headshot. So, ironing clothes beforehand is a must.

Let’s admit it, wearing wrinkled clothes in a business headshot is far from being professional. With such a look, you’ll leave a messy impression on your clients and recruiters, and that’s definitely not what you need.

10 Outfit Ideas for Women to Wear for Headshots

Ladies always can’t decide what to wear for various events, but a close-up photoshoot is a rare occasion, so you can’t mess it up. To help you out, I’ve prepared five outfit ideas for women’s headshots.

Option #1: Corporate

No matter what you decide to wear for a corporate photoshoot, you should avoid casual outfits. Instead, opt for a more formal look instead of wearing a hoodie, printed shirts, and so on. 

Corporate photoshot outfit idea for women
Credit: Pinterest

If you’re working for a company that has a corporate uniform, it’ll be a good idea to wear it to the photoshoot. This way, you’ll represent your brand and show your loyalty to the company as well as your professionalism.

Another great female style idea for a business photo is wearing a simple white shirt. If the background is white, then add a black blazer over the shirt to create contrast. Or you can also wear a white blazer with a black top underneath, just like in the image above. 

White blazer black top corporate headshot outfit idea for women
Credit: Pinterest

The overall rule is to keep the outfit close to the dress code you follow at the office.

Option #2: Personal brand

When you’re having a photo shoot for a personal brand, you’re free to choose what style of outfits to wear for headshots. For instance, you can wear casual outfits or formal ones based on your niche. Also, don’t be afraid to add a personal touch with patterns and accessories.

If you’re having a fun and creative photoshoot, you can go for a more casual outfit in colors that accentuate your brand. Something similar to the image below.

Jean jacket white top personal brand headshot outfit idea for women
Credit: Pinterest

However, if you want to look more professional, you can opt for a dress for headshots with a blazer over it.

Option #3: Acting

When taking a headshot for an acting portfolio, you should ensure your outfit accentuates your features and skin color. When taking headshots, an actor’s looks should be simple to highlight the most important part –  their face and features. Hence, your outfit should be formal and preserved, without many colors and accessories.

For example, a blazer is a great option to wear for headshots for actresses and actors – it’s simple yet formal and, at the same time, draws attention to your features. The color of the blazer should be the opposite of your skin color and the background to create contrast, like in the image below:

Beige blazer black top outfit idea for women for acting headshot
Credit: Gary Barragan

Also, since the person’s facial features are the most important aspect of an acting headshot, shirts with deep necklines are highly recommended. Most acting headshots feature models with open necklines to highlight their features, like in the example here.

As you can see, going for deep necklines will help highlight your facial features, which is exactly what you want with acting headshots.

Option #4: Modeling

The difference between an acting headshot and a modeling headshot is that models should highlight not only  their facial features but also their body language. Of course, it depends on what type of model a person is – they can be only a face model, a hand model, or a runway model.

In order to highlight both facial and body features, models can wear deep-cut neck shirts without sleeves. So a simple tank top will do the job perfectly, as shown here.

However, remember not to wear such clothing items to business close-ups.

Although tank tops are the go-to outfit choice among modeling headshots, you can go for a more put-together look by wearing a formal dress with an open neckline to accentuate your features.

Black off-shoulder top to wear to modelling headshot for women
Credit: Jared Wolfe

Remember – the main goal is to let your personality shine through and showcase your body language.

Option #5: Tech industry

Choosing what to wear for headshots in the tech industry depends on your company’s culture. If people in your company, including managers,  always wear casual outfits, your headshot outfit should correspond.

For a casual look, you can wear a colored blouse or a T-shirt with some jeans, just like in the image below.

Yellow top casual outfit for women to wear to headshots in tech industry
Credit: Nicole Thomas

However, a formal look is more appropriate if you want to land a job in the tech industry and need a headshot to update your CV or LinkedIn account. In this case, you can wear a classic button-down shirt or style a white T-shirt with a dark-colored blazer.

Black blazer white top formal outfit for women to wear to headshots in tech industry
Credit: Forbes

However, keep in mind that your top should create a subtle contrast with the background. The outfit above would not work if the background were black.

10 Outfit Ideas for Men to Wear for Headshots

Guys can have the same struggles in choosing the right outfit for an upcoming headshot photoshoot. Hence, this guide can be helpful for men as well. 

Below, I’m going to share ten outfit ideas men can wear at professional headshot photoshoots. The headshot examples will also be appropriate for different industries.

Option #1: Corporate

Choosing an outfit for corporate headshots for men should be based on the general dress code of the company. If wearing jeans and t-shirts is acceptable, you can choose your outfit based on that. 

However, if the dress code is suit and tie, you should keep that style and wear your best attire. Bear in mind that headshots for work should be anything but casual, so bright colors and accessories are a no-go.

For the first outfit, I’d recommend considering a suit or just a shirt with a blazer for a smart look.

However, if you want to keep it formal but not too serious, you can wear a simple white or black shirt tucked into the pants with rolled-up sleeves, like in the example below:

White shirt outfit for men to wear to corporate headshots
Credit: iStock

You can also try throwing on your blazer occasionally in the photos to diversify the looks.

Option #2: Personal brand

Personal brand photoshoots give complete freedom regarding your outfit. You can be as casual or as formal as you wish. This can depend on what type of brand you have.

If your brand is in a formal niche such as finances, law, real estate, or something similar, then your outfit should showcase your professional approach. So, it’s recommended to go for a classic button-down shirt with classic pants or jeans – both can work.

Blue shirt outfit for men to wear to brand headshots
Credit: Pinterest

However, if you want to showcase your product in a fun environment, you can choose a casual outfit that matches your brand colors. The photo below can serve as a good example.

Shirt brown blazer beige pants outfit for men to wear to brand headshots
Credit: Pinterest

Your look can include any clothing item, be it a T-shirt, jacket, hoodie, shorts, or attractive accessories to highlight your brand and your personality.

Option #3: Acting

Actors should use their headshots to showcase their characteristic features, so the outfit shouldn’t be distracting. The best headshot tip for actors is to have different looks to help casting directors understand how they’d appear as a particular character.

For the first outfit, I’d recommend wearing a plain white or black T-shirt to accentuate your features, like in the example below:

For the second look, you can wear a casual outfit to help the casting directors see your character in an everyday look.

Blue jacket white T-shirt outfit for men to wear to acting headshots
Credit: Pinterest

However, make sure to choose clothes that don’t distract from or distort your facial features.

Option #4: Modeling

When taking a modeling headshot, ensure your outfits highlight your facial and body features. So, usually, models wear simple clothes for a headshot.

The go-to male model headshot outfit is a simple white or black T-shirt without any distractions.

White T-Shirt outfit for men to wear to modelling headshots
Credit: Pinterest

Another outfit you can choose for a modeling headshot is a plain pullover.

Beige pullover for men to wear to modelling headshots
Credit: Model Mayhem

Keep in mind, though, that it’s crucial to avoid clothes with vibrant patterns and logos.

Option #5: Tech industry

Outfits for tech industry headshots may vary depending on what company you work for. Tech industry headshots range from too formal to fun and casual. However, I recommend keeping it formal and not overusing colors and accessories to have a more professional look.

One outfit you can consider for your headshot is a plain button-down shirt with or without a blazer, just like in the image below.

Another look for a tech industry headshot is a mono-color T-shirt or a pullover similar to the one in the example here.

Just remember to keep the outfit aligned with your company’s dress code.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Now, before I conclude this article, I feel you might still have some questions that haven’t been answered. So, let me cover them for you.

Q1: What accessories to wear for headshots?

Jewelry and hats are a great way to showcase your style and personality. Such accessories work great, especially for creative photoshoots. However, if you work in a more formal environment, you should avoid wearing too many accessories

Also, don’t wear long necklaces because, most probably, they will be cropped at the bottom and look weird.

Q2: How to style your hair for headshots?

When choosing a hairstyle, remember that you should appear as close to your everyday look as possible. Because otherwise, you’ll become unrecognizable. 

However, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t style your hair at all. Make sure to have a put-together look without frizzy and messed-up hair for a professional headshot.

Q3: What to wear for headshots if you have white background?

When the photoshoot background is white, you need to wear any color other than white, otherwise, you’ll get washed out. For the best results, it’s recommended to wear darker colors to create contrast.

Over to You

To sum up the article, we can say that professional photo outfits may vary from industry to industry. So, when deciding what to wear for headshots, you should understand what clothes people in your industry usually put on. 

The most important thing to remember is not to overuse colors and accessories – too much is not always good. Keep it simple but at the same time, highlight your characteristic features.

Hopefully, the above headshot ideas will help you slay your professional close-up photoshoot.

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