What To Wear For A Professional Headshot

Tony Stark

Tony Stark


What To Wear For A Professional Headshot

What To Wear For A Professional Headshot

Selecting the right outfit for your professional headshot can feel overwhelming. But with the tips below on what to wear for a professional headshot, you'll look polished, competent and ready to impress.

Additionally, new AI technology like Arting AI's professional headshot generator now gives users more flexibility with their headshots. This app utilizes AI to generate high-definition, half-body professional photos in various styles based on a simple headshot. With Arting AI, people no longer need to worry as much about what to wear. The AI allows generating diverse professional images to suit different needs. Going forward, similar AI applications may reduce the importance of clothing choice for professional headshots.

With Arting AI, you don’t have to go offline to find out which headshot photography studios are near me, nor do you have to spend a fortune on professional studios for taking professional portraits. With Arting AI, all it takes is 1 minute to get your professional headshot.

In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know to choose the perfect outfit for your professional headshot. We’ll go over tips for both men and women on colors, patterns, accessories, and more. By the end, you’ll have all the information you need to make sure your appearance conveys professionalism and enhances your personal brand.

Why Your Outfit Matters

While talent and skills are the most important factors in career success, physical appearance also plays a role. Numerous studies have shown that people make incredibly quick judgments about others based on appearance alone. This effect is amplified in professional headshots, where your photo may be the first impression you make.

According to research by Princeton University, it takes just 100ms for people to begin forming opinions about someone new. Other studies suggest it takes three seconds for someone viewing your picture to make a positive or negative judgment.

Luckily, making a good first impression is within your control. While your outfit for a professional headshot likely won’t make or break your career, dressing appropriately can give you a slight edge. On the other hand, choosing the wrong clothing can undermine the professional image you want to project.

When selecting your outfit, keep in mind that your headshot should convey:

  • Authority and competence in your field
  • Approachability and warmth
  • Personal style and individuality

The tips below will help you choose clothing that strikes this balance, helping you make the right first impression on colleagues, employers, and clients.

General Tips for Men and Women

While specific recommendations vary somewhat between men and women, there are some overarching tips that apply to all professional headshots:

Stick with solid colors or simple patterns: Busy prints, large plaids, and loud colors can distract from your face. Solid colors and subtle patterns make the best backdrop for your facial features. Darker colors like navy, black, and charcoal are classic options suitable for any industry.

Avoid tight or revealing clothing: Professional headshots are typically cropped around your head and shoulders. Make sure your clothing doesn’t dip too low or cling too tightly, as more skin than you intended may end up showing.

Dress one notch above your day-to-day work attire: Even if your everyday office wear is casual, consider dressing up a bit for your photo. Portraying a polished, professional version of yourself will give you maximum versatility for using the headshot across different platforms.

Add a pop of color: While avoiding busy patterns, consider adding visual interest with a brightly colored accessory. A bold tie, scarf, or statement necklace can help you stand out while keeping the focus on your face.

Have your clothes freshly pressed: Wrinkled, faded clothing looks sloppy and conveys lack of care for your appearance. Iron or steam clothing before your shoot for a crisp, polished look.

Skip the novelty accessories: Statement jewelry, loud prints, and quirky pins are better left at home. You want your professional skills, not your accessories, to make the lasting impression.

what to wear for headshots male

For men, the standard go-to outfit for a professional headshot is a fitted suit and tie. However, for many industries and roles, this level of formality isn’t required. Here are some additional options to consider:

A blazer or sport coat: A tailored blazer provides structure and commands authority, while being less formal than a full suit. Opt for neutral colors like black, gray, or navy. Include a dress shirt and tie for a more formal look.

Dress shirt and slacks: A long-sleeved dress shirt paired with well-fitting slacks or trousers conveys professionalism. Make sure your shirt is freshly pressed and wrinkle-free. Add a tie and/or blazer if you want a more formal vibe.

Polo or button-down: For a more casual option, a polo or button-down shirt with the collar tucked in can work for some corporate cultures. Stick to solid, neutral colors and make sure your shirt is neatly pressed.

A v-neck sweater: A fitted merino wool or cashmere v-neck sweater presents a polished yet approachable image. Pair it with a collared shirt underneath for versatility.

Avoid: Short sleeves, busy patterns, distracting accessories, heavy beard or mustache growth, wrinkled clothing

what to wear for headshots female

For women, the range of acceptable professional attire is broader. Here are some top options that convey poise and competence:

A blazer: A structured blazer is a versatile choice that instantly pulls an outfit together. Look for one in a solid, neutral color that fits well through the shoulders and arms. Pair it with a dress shirt or sleeveless shell underneath.

Sheath dress: A sleeveless sheath dress in a solid color or subtle print projects professionalism. Bring a blazer or cardigan for outfit options during your shoot. Make sure the length falls just above the knees or lower.

Blouse and slacks/skirt: A modest blouse looks classic tucked into dress pants or a knee-length skirt. Stick to solid colors or small patterns. A matching blazer or cardigan completes the look.

A jewel-neck shell with suit jacket: A simple jewel-neck shell paired with a tailored jacket and statement necklace makes a bold impression. Just keep necklaces short to accommodate tight cropping.

Avoid: Low-cut tops, strapless/sleeveless without a blazer, loud prints, visible bra straps, wrinkled clothing, heavy cleavage

Other Wardrobe Tips

Beyond your core outfit, accessories, hair and makeup also contribute to your overall look for headshots. Here are some additional tips:

Jewelry: Simple earrings and a short necklace are ideal. Avoid large hoops or long pendants that may get lost in tight cropping.

Glasses: If you regularly wear glasses, keep them on for consistency. Make sure they’re clean and smudge-free.

Facial hair: Freshly trimmed and groomed facial hair can look professional, while scruffiness cannot. Get a clean shave or shaped trim prior to your shoot.

Hair: Neat, professional hairstyling completes your look. Schedule a cut or trim prior to your shoot to look your best.

Makeup: Subtle, natural makeup with minimal shimmer is ideal for headshots. Schedule a trial makeup application if you want guidance.

Show Your Personality

While your clothing should meet a standard of professionalism, you don’t want to blend in completely. Think about how you can express your unique personal style while upholding your professional image.

For example, if you have a creative role, an outfit with bold colors may suit your personality. Or maybe you add visual interest by mixing classic patterns, like pairing a glen plaid blazer with a striped tie.

Your headshot is a chance to let your individuality shine through within the constraints of professional attire. Discuss outfit ideas with your photographer to find options that work for you.

Takeaways for Dressing for Your Professional Headshot

Preparing your wardrobe for a professional headshot is an important step in putting your best foot forward. Follow these keys to make a great first impression:

  • For men – Stick to suits, blazers, dress shirts, slacks, polos, or sweaters in solid, neutral colors. Avoid busy patterns.
  • For women – Choose tailored blazers, sheath dresses, blouses, skirt suits, or jewel-neck shells. Opt for solid colors or subtle patterns.
  • All genders – Make sure clothing fits well, isn't wrinkled, and avoids cleavage or tightness. Add visual interest through a statement accessory or pop of color.
  • Be yourself – Add personal flair that reflects your style while upholding your professionalism.

With these insights on what to wear for a professional headshot, you can choose an outfit that makes you look and feel your best before the camera.