What to wear for professional headshots

New headshots can be stressful, but this simple guide for what to wear for professional headshots will help you feel comfortable and confident in front of the camera.

I’ve taken a lot of professional headshots over the years, and guess what – pretty much everyone comes in with the same nerves. Even the seasoned actors I’ve photographed have needed a  warm-up period. There’s just something about “picture day” that can make grown adults feel like awkward teenagers all over again. 

But, there’s good news!  Following some simple tips for what to wear for professional headshots to prep beforehand can make all the difference in your confidence level. To help you out, I’ve prepared a headshot prep guide so you can feel comfortable and confident when it comes time for your close-up. 


Let’s talk WARDROBE. “What should I wear for my professional headshots?” is the number one question business professionals ask me. For good reason!  How you dress can say a lot about you. So read on below for all things attire and don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter for even more tips for your business and branding photos. 

  1. Keep your outfit classic.

    As much as I love a good trend, when it comes to your headshot, you want timeless results so you won’t have to come back year after year. Do this by avoiding fashion’s hottest looks for your professional headshot. The goal here is longevity. Keeping your wardrobe pieces classic will help your profile picture hold up in 2, 3, or even 4 years from now (e.g., the image below was taken in 2014).

    what to wear professional headshots_classic

    2. Go neutral.

    There’s a reason some of the most successful (and busiest) decision-makers in the world wear the same colors every day. When Barrack Obama was president, he said, “You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits. I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.” If you’re struggling with your choices, go with neutrals–black, gray, navy, or beige. These shades are flattering on everyone. If you do want to incorporate color, consider your undertones, (i.e., the natural color beneath your skin), which can be most simply divided into warm, neutral, or cool. Different color shades will look better depending on your undertones.  Professional headshot wardrobe example of neutral colors.

what to wear for professional headshots - neutral colorsProfessional headshot wardrobe example of color appropriate for warm undertones.

what-to-wear-professoinal-headshots warm tones

Professional headshot wardrobe example of color appropriate for cool undertones.what-to-wear-professional -headshots cool tones

3. Tailor your clothing when possible.

If you were to go behind the scenes of any fashion photoshoot, you’re guaranteed to see models with clips pinching and tucking clothing to look effortlessly perfect on their frame. The truth is, clothing off the rack isn’t a perfect fit for most people. But, the secret to transforming a ‘meh’ top or bottom is in the tailoring. Darting a shirt or hemming a skirt can do wonders on how something falls. I know a few people who buy items from Old Navy or Gap and then take them to a tailor, transforming their bargain finds into what looks like high-end fashion. While it may cost you a bit extra, consider the extra measure an investment in your overall image. You’ll be amazed at how a custom-tailored item can make you feel like a whole new person by following YOUR frame in just the right way. Professional all the way.

4. Keep patterns subtle.

what to wear for professional headshots-0005You’ve probably heard it before, but there’s a reason why stylists recommend avoiding horizontal stripes (they can make you look wider).  Additionally, certain patterns on camera can be distracting to the eye, or worse, more–an effect where odd shapes or stripes appear in an image with a busy, fine pattern. To play on the safe side for your professional headshot photo session, choose solid fabrics with larger details like in the dress below. If you want to take the risk, try classic patterns like twill, herringbone, or plaid in a muted neutral so as not to call too much attention away from the real subject of the image – your lovely face.


5. Find the right cut. When it comes to tops, watch out for turtlenecks, which can swallow you up and make you appear like a floating head. Instead, opt for a crew, v-neck, scoop, or boat neckline. These are all professional and flattering for every woman. As far as sleeveless, it depends on your audience. For many traditional workplaces like schools, governmental offices, law firms, etc., it’s standard practice to wear attire with sleeves. In less formal settings, sleeveless tops are more accepted.what-to-wear-for-professional-headshots-

  1. 6. Know your audience.
  2. This might be obvious, but if you’re in the corporate world, your attire will lean more formal than an artist or musician.  If you’re in a creative field, you definitely have more license with what you wear and how you wear it. In fact, you should let your personality and style show through in what you wear, such as these two below (also one of the reasons they can look “off-camera”). He’s a furniture designer/builder and she’s a professional violinist. Professional-headshot-wardrobe-creative
  3. 7. Wear your personality.

    I’m not gonna do that thing where I say you should smile. If that’s not who you are, then don’t force it. But letting your warmth and presence come through in your expression is the best thing you could ever wear. What you show through your eyes is more powerful than any item of clothing you could ever wear.what-to-wear-for-headshot-photos

  4. Check back soon for more helpful tips on getting the most out of your professional headshots. Want to see more from the blog? Check out these posts below:
    Actor Portraits of Brendan Carney
    Portrait Photography InfoInterested in taking your own headshot photos? Contact me today here, call 402-304-4057 or email maggie@rifeponcephotography.com. I’d love to hear from you! 

Facials, food art, and craft brews-recent shoots for Pop Sugar

I love shooting for Pop Sugar because of the variety of business I’ve been introduced to across the city.  In March I visited Urban Chic Spa where facial products come in delicious looking packages, stopped by One Sister Inc. where Iliana creates works of art out of her delectables, captured the ballet inspired work outs at The Dailey Method, then hopped along the Chicago Beer Experience Tour where on one stop participants try beer paired with bacon!  Here’s a sampling of some from each spot.

Eggs, Orange juice, and Equity

The Kellogg School of Management hosts the 12th annual Private Equity and Venture Capital Conference, “Value Creation in the New Decade.”at the University Club on February 9, 2011.

The Kellogg School of Management Hosts the Private Equity and Venture Capitalist Conference at the University Club in Chicago Il on February 9, 2011

Photos of the Kellogg Private Equity and Venture Captilist Conference 2011
Private equity venture capitalist conference 2011 at the University Club in Chicago, IL on February 9, 2011Photos of the Kellogg School of Management Venture Capitalist Conference
Private equity venture capitalist conference 2011 at the University Club in Chicago, IL on February 9, 2011