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What to Wear for Headshots and More

When it comes to what to wear for headshots, you’d be forgiven if you thought “What to wear for headshots? Well, that’s easy, it doesn’t matter just don’t wear a hat!” After all, aside from your head what else would show up? Well, isn’t that special – but’s it wrong! It’s okay, you’re not a photographer, you’re not expected to know! This time on the Frank Frost blog we’re going to go over what a headshot is precisely and what to wear for your headshots!

What Are Headshots?

You might have heard headshots and portraits used interchangeably for the upcoming office photoshoot and while there is some overlap, these are different. Think of it like a squares and rectangle situation. Not all rectangles are squares, but all squares are rectangles. Similarly, headshots are a type of portrait, but not all portraits are headshots.

More specifically, headshots are a photo, tightly cropped focusing on the face from the shoulders up. The subject is camera aware (meaning looking towards the camera, typically right into the lens.

Headshots are particularly important for actors, models, and those in similar industries. It’s how they can get their face out there. But they don’t have to be reserved for thespians! Anybody can benefit from a well done  headshot! But what to wear for them!?

What Color To Wear for Headshots

Any color can work, if your photographer is set up for it. To make any color work right you need to light it properly and have a background ready to balance it out.

But some colors definitely capture better! Wearing a dark black or bright white can mess with the color and make you appear washed out, so avoid that. Any color that is close to your skin tone can also make it more difficult for the camera to pick out features. 

What About Patterns? 

Let’s put it to bed quickly – patterns aren’t the best idea, for a number of reasons. For one a pattern that is too ‘loud’ can make for a distracting headshot. Patterns can also make a photo feel more dated, faster. Stick to solid colors or very subdued patterns if you want your headshots to last awhile.

How About Styles?

For Ladies

When it comes to tops, look for crew, boat or narrow v-necks are always flattering and lay right. Sometimes collars have a tendency not to work exactly right and can make the final headshot look a little off so avoiding them is easiest. If you typically wear a jacket for your work take a jacket or two to have options but don’t feel you need one to be professional! Make sure your clothes fit well beforehand (a general rule of thumb is a little snug is better than loose) so try them on a few days before the photos are being taken to ensure they fit exactly as you’d like. 

For general guidance on what not to wear:

  • Too low necklines
  • Too high necklines like turtlenecks
  • Busy or trendy patterns (again they’ll photo poorly and date the photo faster)
  • shiny fabrics like silk or satin.
  • short sleeves or sleeveless styles* 

*unless you’ve got strong arms you’re wanting to show off!

How About Accessories?

In general, less is more. Keep jewelry to a minimum. Here are some tips for specific types:

  • Stud earrings are best, especially simple pearls or stones.
  • Hoops and dangling earrings can interfere with your hair and get lost in your portrait.

Remember the focus is on your face and you want as little to distract from it as possible so big jewelry, large hoops, or unique pieces might draw the eye away from your face and ruin the intention of the headshot. If big jewelry is your style, don’t fret, there are ways to make it work!

For Men

The big thing is to make sure your clothes fit right. Especially for jackets and collared shirts. While wearing it, look for gaps at the back of your neck. You don’t want it too tight, however, or else you risk a bit of a bulge of neck over the collar and it will look… not so good on camera. If you’ve never had your clothes tailored before now is a great time to give it a try! It’s surprisingly inexpensive and will give your fit the exact right look. 

Know what style you’re going for and whether you need a tie, a sport coat or a suit coat. If you’re wearing a tie you can wear either a suit or sport coat but if you’re opting for a no-tie look you should only wear a sport coat.  Button down collars rarely lay just right in photos so unless it’s a deliberate style choice of yours best to avoid them.

What About Glasses?

Glasses can be tricky! If you’re not careful the lenses can produce a glare that blocks out your eyes in the photo – and that’s no good! If you’re able, give your glasses a non-glare coating otherwise you can use a set of lens-less frames. They’ll photograph fine and are true to your look. If you forget and there ends up being a glare don’t sweat it too much. Photographers should be able to remove the glare in post-production.

Some Final Tips

Don’t wear your headshot wardrobe in your car. Car seats, driving, heat, seat belts – all of these can mean wrinkled clothes for the photos. Instead bring the wardrobe clean and pressed on hangars and change specifically for the photos.

Speaking of clean and pressed, make sure your clothes are just that. Take them to a tailor to get them sized exactly right for you, whatever you need to make sure your clothes are looking pristine for your photos.

Bring a few options! Since you really only need to worry about the waist and above for your headshot, bring a few different shirts, jackets to get the best photos for you!

Want a few more ideas? Check out our Business and Headshot page for some example headshots and see what others are wearing and what looks good to you.

Ready for your closeup? Schedule your session today with Albuquerque’s best studio, Frank Frost photography!