April 12, 2022

The old saying "clothes make the man" is true. Researchers found that the way we dress communicates a lot about who we are and what our perceptions of ourselves. This includes beliefs about our influence and power, intelligence, and how much money we make. All of these factors impact on whether clients, hiring managers, and coworkers consider us reliable and trustworthy.

Your professional image will be established by your choice of what to wear in your headshots. Your professional headshot is a key part of making a good first impression.

These wardrobe tips and tricks will help you create professional portraits as you prepare for your headshot session.

Style Tips For Professional Headshots

Look Like Your Boss

The industry determines what is appropriate attire for the workplace. Lawyers or doctors are expected to dress more conservatively, while those in creative or technical roles might look strange if they wear a suit and tie to work.

If you are unsure, ask your boss or an industry leader you trust. Your superiors' appearance is a good indicator of the appropriate attire for your industry. It will help you communicate confidence and not appear too pushy.

Don't Wear Too Casual Clothing

If you are in an industry that is more casual than the norm, you might consider wearing more formal clothing for your headshots. This will make you appear more authoritative and confident. Research shows that wearing formal clothes can increase your power and control. This can have an impact on how you appear in photos.

Your mood and how you present yourself in photos will be influenced by your feelings behind the lens. So, make sure you choose formal clothes that you are happy with. For extra confidence, choose formal options such as suits, ties, and formal blouses.

Multiple Outfits

Think about the people you work with and the clothes that are most appropriate for each. Are you more likely to wear the same outfits no matter who you are interacting with or to tailor your clothes to suit your audience?

You should have a headshot that suits the different audiences you are likely to interact with. This is especially important for consultants, entrepreneurs, and salespeople. Book a Standard Studio Session (or Platinum Combo Session) to avoid trying to fit everyone's needs with one outfit.

Get Suit-Inspired Silhouettes

Clothing that is perceived as more masculine, such as suit jackets, blazers, and trousers in darker colors, can have a profound impact on our perceptions of intelligence and capability, particularly when it comes to those in leadership and management positions.

 According to a study, applicants who wore blazers or trousers were perceived to be more powerful and influential than those who wore other clothing types. For leadership and management positions, more preferred hiring recommendations were made for trousers and suits in darker colors.

Don't Wear Older, Worn-Out Clothes

Everybody has a favorite piece of clothing they wear over and over again. But, even the most beautiful blouses and shirts can show wear. Brightly colored clothing and knitted fabrics are more susceptible to pilling . You want your clothes to look well-made and tailored.

Stick With Simple Jewelry

Professional headshots are designed to enhance your natural features and not distract from them. Simple jewelry is a better option for professional headshots, especially if the cropping will be close to your face (as many are).

Jewelry should not be considered a finishing touch, as long as your hair is in the correct style and you are properly prepared for your headshot session . Make sure that the pendant is visible in the photo. Avoid dangling earrings and stick to simple metal or gemstone stud earrings. Avoid dangling earrings or hoop earrings as they can get caught in hair and end up in the wrong place.

Get rid of the "Floppy Collar" and the undershirt

The area under your eyes is crucial in a professional headshot. These photos will be cropped to fit LinkedIn profile photos or other placements. Think about your collar and undershirt first.

First, don't wear an undershirt in your headshot unless you are going for casual style.

Many men wear an undershirt during the day to keep sweat from building up. However, in formal professional headshots, a white, grey, or black undershirt can be distracting. You shouldn't make people think about how sweaty you are.

A stiff collar is a must, even if you don't wear a tie. Even if your outfit is perfect, a "floppy collar", can make your headshot look unprofessional.



What Colours to Wear for Headshots

Color Theory

The science behind color theory is how certain colors affect our moods, thoughts, and behaviors. How certain wardrobe hues can impact what other people think about us. Red conveys energy and confidence, while navy blue and black can elicit a sense dominance and authority. Consider the message you wish to convey through your professional headshots, and then choose colors accordingly.

  • Dark colors can be perceived as more formal, dominant, and authoritative.
  • Wearing light colors makes the wearer seem more approachable and friendly
  • Some bright colors can convey confidence and energy
  • Muted colours are more conservative and less threatening
  • Strong images that convey authority and influence can be created by pairing high-contrast such as a dark jacket with a light shirt

Stick With Solid Colors

No matter what your setting or portrait style, subtle patterns and simple colors look great on everyone. Contrasting patterns can distract from your face, and lead to moire (an unpleasant visual side effect caused by repeating patterns).

Contrast With Your Backdrop

Consider your background when choosing colors for professional headshots. If you are not getting a company-branded portrait, make sure your wardrobe colors contrast with the background. This will help you stand out. This is especially important if you are going to be taking black-and-white headshots. A dark top against a dark background can make you appear floating!

Contrast With Your Skin Tone

Professional portraits will look better if your skin, clothing, and background all contrast. Make sure you choose colors that are significantly darker or lighter than the skin to avoid looking naive. It is possible to take a monochromatic headshot if you wish, but it is best to let your photographer know so they can help you choose the best option.

Do not wear outfit combinations that are common for other professions

One of the most common errors is to dress like a doctor, or two: Dressing as a waiter.

If you are taking a headshot and don't want to look like a doctor, avoid wearing a white blazer. In the final cropped headshot, it's likely that you will look like a doctor's coat. Particularly important if you are shooting with a backdrop in a studio.

Avoid looking like a waiter by not wearing a white button-down shirt with a black tie and a black suit.

How Should Clothing Fit

Use a Higher Neckline

Headshots are usually cropped close to your head and face. Professional headshots can make even work-appropriate tops look more provocative than they are intended.

If you plan on wearing a button-up shirt for men, ensure that the buttons don't touch below the crop. Particularly women are considered less serious if they wear provocative or revealing clothing. Therefore, blouses and tops that have a higher neckline are better.

Get Tighter Clothing

Closer fitting clothing is more pleasing and less distracting than loose, baggy clothing. This is especially true for formal or business-casual photographs. Even if it is slightly too tight, a blazer and suit jacket should fit tightly around your shoulders. Don't be concerned about your waistline - most headshots are taken without a jacket or blazer. The creases between your ribs will show in the bottom border of your photo.

This is true for blouses and collared shirts as well. A collared shirt should fit snugly around the neck if you plan on wearing it buttoned up. Unfitted collars can distract from your features and create a distraction.

The Right Wardrobe and the Right Photographer

Your professional headshot session will have a significant impact on the photos you see. But, it is not as important as the quality of your photographer. For pricing information and booking information, if you are a

There’s truth to the adage “clothes make the man.” According to researchers, the way we dress conveys information about our identity both in and outside of the workplace, and has a significant impact on what others believe about us. That includes beliefs about how much influence and power we have, how smart we are, and even how much money we make – all of which impact whether hiring managers, coworkers and clients consider us trustworthy and reliable.

Beyond having the right professional pose and portrait style, what you choose to wear in your headshots will help establish your professional identity within your network. Since most people will see your professional headshot before they meet you face-to-face, your wardrobe in professional headshots is also an important part of making a great first impression.

As you , prepare for your headshot session consider these wardrobe tips and tricks for great professional portraits! 

Style Tips for Professional Headshots

Dress Like Your Boss

What’s considered appropriate dress in the workplace varies widely by industry. Lawyers and doctors, for instance, are generally expected to dress in a more formal and conservative way, whereas those working in technical or creative roles may look out of place if they come to work in a suit and tie.

When in doubt, look to your boss or another industry leader you respect. The way your superiors dress is usually a good indicator of what’s appropriate for your industry, and will help you convey confidence without appearing as if you’re trying too hard. 

Avoid Overly-Casual Clothing

Even if you work in an industry where informal dress is the norm, consider donning more formal threads for your headshots if you want to appear more confident and authoritative. Research suggests that simply wearing more formal clothing can contribute to a feeling of power and control, which can impact your posture and presence in photos. 

The way you feel behind the camera will impact how you appear in your photos, so consider formal clothing options that make you feel good about yourself. If you need an extra boost of confidence, stick with formal options like suits, ties and formal blouses. 

Feature Multiple Outfits

Consider the different people you interact with during the working day, and what clothing is most appropriate in each of those settings. Do you tend to wear the same types of outfits regardless of who you’re interacting with, or do you tailor your clothing choices to your audience?

If you regularly interact with different types of people throughout your day — which is often the case for entrepreneurs, consultants and salespeople — make sure you have a headshot that fits each of your audiences. Instead of trying to split the difference with an outfit that doesn’t fit any scenario well, book a Standard Studio Session or Platinum Combo Session, which allows for multiple outfits and backdrops.

Opt for Suit-Inspired Silhouettes

For better or worse, clothing traditionally perceived as more masculine — including trousers, blazers and suit jackets in darker hues — can have a significant impact on perceptions of intelligence and ability, especially when it comes to people in management and leadership positions. 

According to a study that examined the connection between clothing style and hiring recommendations, blazers and trousers contributed to applicants being perceived as more forceful and influential than those wearing other types of clothing. Suits and trousers in darker colors also contributed to more favorite hiring recommendations for leadership and management positions. 

Avoid Older, Worn-Out Clothing

Everyone has one favorite piece of clothing that they’ll wear again and again — but over time, even the nicest blouses and shirts will begin to show signs of wear. This is especially true of brightly-colored clothing or knitted fabrics, which could fade or show signs of pilling of each time it’s washed. To ensure your clothes make you look tailored and put together, opt for newer clothing or “dry clean only” items that won’t show these tell-tale signs of wear. 

Stick with Simple Jewelry

The best professional headshots enhance your natural features without distracting from them. For this reason, simple jewelry is a better choice for professional headshots – especially if your headshot will be cropped closely to your face (as most are). 

So long as you have the right hair and makeup for your headshot session, jewelry should just be a “finishing touch.” For necklaces, make sure the pendant is visible above the crop of the photo. For earrings, stick with simple metallic or gemstone studs, and wear dangling earrings with caution. Hoop earrings and anything that dangles tends to be caught in hair and gets lost in the photo. 

Ditch the Undershirt and “Floppy Collar”

In a professional headshot, the area directly under your face is critically important. These photos are cropped closely for LinkedIn profile photos and other placements. So think about your undershirt and collar first.

First, unless you’re going for a casual look, with an un-buttoned oxford shirt, avoid wearing an undershirt in your headshot.


While many men wear an undershirt to avoid building up sweat during the day, a white, black, or grey undershirt will be distracting in a formal professional headshot. Why make people think about your sweat?

Second, especially if you’re not wearing a tie, make sure your collar is stiff. A “floppy collar” can make a headshot look sloppy, even if you’re dressed perfectly otherwise.


What Colors To Wear for Headshots 

Consider Color Theory

Color theory refers to the science of how certain colors influence our moods, thoughts and behaviors. For instance, red conveys confidence and energy, whereas navy blue and black elicits a sense of dominance and authority. Think about what message you want to convey in your professional headshots and select colors accordingly.

  • Dark colors are perceived as more formal, dominant and authoritative
  • Light colors make the wearer appear more friendly and approachable
  • Some bright colors convey confidence and energy
  • Muted colors are conservative and less threatening
  • High-contrast pairings like a dark jacket and light shirt can create a powerful image that conveys influence and authority

Stick with Solid Colors

Regardless of your portrait style and setting, simple colors and subtle patterns usually look best on everyone. Bold or busy patterns tend to distract from your face and can lead to moire, an unpleasant visual side effect of repeating patterns. 

Contrast with Your Backdrop

When choosing colors for your professional headshots, consider your portrait backdrop. Unless you’re getting a company-branded headshot, choose wardrobe colors that contrast with your background so you stand out. This is especially true if you plan to have black and white headshots – a dark top against a dark background could make you look like a floating head!

Contrast with Your Skin Tone

As a general rule, professional portraits look best when your skin tone, your clothing and your backdrop all contrast. When choosing what colors to wear, make sure the color is significantly darker or lighter than your skin tone so you don’t look nude from afar. If possible to create a great monochromatic headshot as well, but make sure you let your photographer know beforehand so we can advise you on your best options.

Avoid Outfit Combinations That Are Typical for Other Professions

The most common mistakes are 1) Dressing like a doctor or 2) Dressing like a waiter.

To avoid looking like a doctor, if you’re going for a headshot, don’t wear a white blazer. It’s very likely to look like a medical coat in the final cropped headshot. (Particularly if you’re shooting with a studio backdrop)

To avoid looking like a waiter, don’t wear a white button down shirt, with a black tie, and a black suit.

How Clothing Should Fit

Wear a Higher Neckline

Keep in mind that headshots are typically cropped closely around your head and face. Even work-appropriate tops with lower necklines could end up looking more provocative than intended in professional headshots that are cropped closely. 

For men who plan to wear a button-up shirt, make sure the buttons won’t connect below the crop of the photo. Women in particular are perceived to be less serious if their clothing is considered provocative or revealing, so blouses and tops with higher necklines are best. 

Opt for Tighter Clothing

More closely-fitted clothing tends to look cleaner and less distracting than loose or baggy clothing, especially for formal or business-casual photos. If you plan to wear a blazer or suit jacket, make sure it fits closely around the shoulders and arms – even if that means it’s slightly too tight. If you’re concerned about your waistline, don’t worry – most headshots are taken with jackets and blazers unbuttoned, as the creases along your ribs tend to show at the bottom border of the photo.

The same goes for collared shirts and blouses. If you plan to wear a collared shirt buttoned to the top, make sure it fits snugly around your neck. Loosely-fitted collars leave distracting gaps that draw attention away from your features. 

The Right Wardrobe, the Right Photographer

What you wear for your professional headshot session has a big influence on what those photos will say about you – but nothing matters as much as the quality of your photographer. If you’re a Boston professional and want to book a headshot session, head over to our contact us page. 

Bay Area professional looking to book a session for your headshots, visit our contact us page.


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