What To Wear for a Headshot (Plus Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated December 3, 2021 | Published July 26, 2021

Updated December 3, 2021

Published July 26, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

For many roles, it's important for professionals to have an updated headshot that represents their personality and professional demeanour. To accomplish this, professionals preparing for a headshot wear outfits that are appropriate to the industry in which they're applying and attempt to display confidence and cordiality. If you want to properly prepare for a headshot, it may be beneficial to learn more about them. In this article, we discuss why business photos are important and what to wear for a headshot.

Related: What To Wear to an Interview

What is a headshot?

A headshot is a photograph that includes a person's head and shoulders, which fill the frame of the photo. Photographers take headshots fairly close up, allowing those being photographed to express their personality through their facial features. There are different scenarios where you may require a headshot, such as creating or updating your professional social media accounts or posting a brief biography and picture on your company's website.

Some employers may even ask for your headshot before they interview you, especially if you work in entertainment. Headshots help prospective employers gauge your personality before meeting you, which can help them determine whether you'd be a good fit for a particular role.

Why are headshots important?

Business headshots are important because they can help prospective employers and clients familiarize themselves with you before actually meeting you. Headshots can also remind your current professional contacts about what you look like and previous meetings you may have had with those contacts. An effective headshot is updated and reflects authenticity. This ensures that clients or prospective employers have an accurate representation of what you look like and allows future meetings to operate smoothly.

What to wear for a headshot photo

Effective outfits for a headshot depend on your role and industry. Here are some things to consider when choosing an outfit:

Be thoughtful about colour

If you have an outgoing personality, it may seem natural to express that trait through bold patterns or colourful shirts. However, these types of outfits can be distracting in a headshot. Consider wearing a solid, neutral-coloured shirt instead, as it helps viewers focus on your face.

If you plan on taking a photo in a photography studio, bright studio lights can dim pastel colours, so it may also be helpful to consider wearing neutral colours such as cream, white, black, or navy instead. For example, if you have a pastel-coloured shirt you want to wear, some professionals might decide to offset it with a darker blazer. If you want to include bold colours in your outfit, consider doing so around your neckline, as bold articles of clothing worn in that location garner attention to your face.

Related: Our Guide to Business Casual for Men

Plan for contrast

Some companies prefer black and white headshots, so it's important to dress for that possibility. If you wear clothes that are the same tone, such as a light blue blazer and beige tie, the colours may appear too similar in a black-and-white photo. To avoid this, try to wear contrasting colours that still work in these types of photos, such as a white shirt and a navy blazer.

Consider the Moire effect

Another reason to avoid heavily patterned outfits in a headshot is the Moire effect. The Moire effect is a blurry or wavy attribute that occurs when one or more repeating patterns are present in a photo. To ensure clear, recognizable headshots, it's best to choose solid colours.

Style according to your industry

Different roles and industries have different dress codes for their employees, so what's appropriate to wear in your headshot may differ. Some industries and positions may be more formal than others, so wearing a suit or blazer is appropriate in this scenario. However, other industries and positions are less formal, such as customer service roles. In these cases, business casual attire, such as a cardigan or V-neck sweater, may be a better option.

When preparing for a headshot, consider what you and your colleagues typically wear to work. If you have a certain dress code, try to adhere to it for your headshot, as well.

Related: Guide to Business Casual Attire

Accessorize thoughtfully

Another great way to express your personality is through your accessories. Consider limiting your wardrobe to simple accessories so you don't distract from your face in your headshot. Consider a nice tie or simple necklace, as other jewellery or accessories you wear likely won't be visible in the picture because these photos only include your head and shoulders.

If you wear glasses daily, consider including them in your headshot to appear authentic and updated with the way in which you currently look. As glasses can cause glare in pictures, consider buying a pair of anti-glare glasses or use a cheaper pair of reading glasses and take the lenses out for the photo. If you keep the lenses in, ensure your glasses are clean.

Try different things

Another way you can ensure an effective headshot is to try several outfits. Consider selecting a few outfits beforehand and wearing them at home to determine how they fit and look. If you can, have someone photograph a few test shots to determine how each outfit appears.

When you actually take your headshots, consider bringing two or three outfits with you. Your original choice may look different under studio lights or with the background a photographer chooses. Having a few options also provides the photographer with an opportunity to tell you which one they believe looks best on camera.

Tips for preparing for your headshot photo

To further prepare you for an effective headshot photo, consider the following tips:

Select an outfit that fits and is comfortable

When choosing your outfit, consider limiting yourself to clothing that fits well and makes you feel comfortable. If your clothing doesn't fit right or makes you uncomfortable, your headshot may not appear as natural as it could be. Trying your outfits on beforehand can help you determine whether you're comfortable enough.

Choose an outfit with sleeves

People often debate whether to wear a sleeveless shirt or dress while taking a headshot. It's usually best to wear a shirt or dress with sleeves since these outfits often look more formal and professional. Any type of shirt or dress with sleeves, whether they're short or long, can be a good choice for completing your outfit.

Plan your hairstyle

Another important aspect to consider for your headshot is your hair. Your face and hair occupy most of the frame of a headshot, so determining a hairstyle you believe flatters you is important. If you wear the same hairstyle every day, consider maintaining that style in your headshot for authenticity. However, you can always vary your hairstyles to help you better express your personality.

Consider testing different hairstyles at home to determine which one suits you best. When you take your headshot, you can bring a hairbrush and any styling product you use for potential changes.

Consider the type of fabric

When planning your outfit, consider different fabrics and how they may appear on camera. For example, if you have a thin shirt you want to wear, try to pair it with a blazer to add texture. It may also be helpful to ensure that anything under your shirt is smooth and seamless so it remains invisible underneath.

Test different makeup looks

If you wear makeup, try testing different styles beforehand to determine which appears best on camera. The camera is often fairly close to you for a headshot, so it's best to keep your makeup light and natural. Bold eyeshadow or lipstick may be distracting, so consider neutral colours to complement your face. Consider also bringing a powder or washing your face, which can reduce shine in your pictures.

Talk to the photographer

When the photographer establishes their setup, consider having a conversation with them. This offers them an opportunity to know what you prefer so they can direct you into different poses and expressions that suit your personality. Talking to them can also make you feel more comfortable, which may result in a more natural headshot.

Conduct some test photos

To feel more comfortable and relaxed during your photoshoot, it can be helpful to take test photos. Practise taking photos at home or asking the photographer to take test photos. This is a great way to attain the perfect headshot, as you can adjust your makeup or outfit if you don't like how they look on camera.

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