What to Wear for your Headshots

28 March 2023

What to Wear for Your Headshots

You’ve found the right photographer for your portraits but that’s only half the job done. Learning what to wear and how to pose confidently for your headshots should be the next tasks you tick off your list. Sometimes even the smartest outfit can be an utter no-no for your photos, so how are you supposed to know what to wear, and what not to wear? As an experienced portrait photographer, I know what works and what causes a photographic headache. So if you’d like to avoid panicked rifling through your wardrobe the day before, use this guide to the right headshot wardrobe essentials.

The idea is to stand out!

A quick note – whilst you read through this list, it can be easy to think you don’t want to stand out. Few of us relish the idea of stepping in front of the camera, but the idea here absolutely is to make you stand out. Yes it can be a daunting prospect, but you will feel more confident afterwards and so it’s important to have the courage to think positively about the experience beforehand. Follow these tips and you will thank me for them later!

Do choose: what to wear in headshots


Pick colours that will contrast with your backdrop (be it a physical photographic backdrop or a location), your hair and skin. A dark grey suit against a dark blue backdrop for example, will make it difficult to differentiate you from your background. You should be looking to stand out. Steer towards colour for contrast unless you value and use neutrals heavily (think Scandi inspired styles, maternity photos etc).

women headshot and Portrait Photograph in London home studio


Especially for those of you who wear a lot of white or soft neutrals, texture is great for providing just that. It breaks up the whiteness and creates interest in a way that doesn’t distract from you, the subject. Texture can be raised patterned cotton, lace, cable knits or crochet.

creative business coach cut away headshot


Bold, bright colours work really well for boosting skin tone and character, they bring vibrancy and life. Colour works well in headshots too in that it commands attention (which is what we want, remember)? Look for colour blocks rather than patterns. And try to avoid cool colours – warmth, depth and interest are key to a great portrait.

Discover your Colour Season

Did you know your skin tone can be warm, cool or neutral? Or that beyond that, colours can be divided into seasons? It explains why the same dark green can look deep and glamorous on one person and dull on the next. If this is all new to you and you’re planning the night before, you might want to skip this step. But if you have the time, see if you can work out your season and keep your wardrobe choices to the one colour season that suits you.

colour wheel of seasons and colour types
Colours by season and tone

Bring choices to your headshot session!

Lastly, you should definitely bring a range of outfits to wear at your headshot session. I always say more is better than less. That way, if you have any uncertainties, you will have a range to choose from on the day.

Don’t choose: what not to wear in your headshot

No to Monochrome

While black and white are not impossible to work with, they can lose texture and detail in an image. If you must go monochrome, steer to a more nuanced neutral. Colour brings you to life, it helps your eyes sparkle and your skin glow! The smart black dress looks great in person at a party, but it’s not always the best thing to wear to your headshots.

Logos, Writing on Tops

Avoid anything that has a central picture, logos, writing or numbers on it. Whatever is front and centre on your top is drawing the viewer to that, not to you.


Patterned clothes whilst stylish at the moment, are distracting. If anything, a patterned dress might be better suited to a lifestyle shoot where it helps to pick you out of a busy location. Always try to remember the focus should be on you, not your clothes.

Pale blues

Pale blue is the anti-hero to great looking skin! Washed out, pallid skin tones do no favours to anyone, and cannot be corrected later. I have lost count of the number of men who tell me the only shirt colours they have are pale blue. If there is a reason to upgrade your clothes, this is it!

Meet Frances, London Lifestyle & Portrait Photographer

meet Spirited photography

Hello! I'm Frances, founder of Spirited Branding and Portrait Photography, London. I'm here to offer you inspiring portraits using my tried and tested tools to challenge camera shyness, alongside curated branding imagery that will up-level your brand. Spirited works mostly with change-makers, ethical businesses and creatives.

I invite you look over my headshot and portrait photography or branding photography services, and would love to help you with your next branding shoot!