April 1, 2024

What to Wear for Headshots: A Guide to Looking Your Best

Corporate Headshots

Choosing the right outfit for your professional headshot is crucial, as it communicates your professionalism, confidence, and personal style. Whether you're preparing for a corporate profile, an actor's portfolio, or your own personal branding, selecting the appropriate attire can enhance your photo's impact. This guide will provide you with detailed advice on what to wear for headshots with Ryan Donaldson Photography, considering factors like skin tone, clothing style, and the importance of a professional makeup artist.

Understanding the Importance of Professional Headshots

Professional headshots are more than just photographs; they are a vital part of your personal or professional branding. They convey your professionalism and personality to potential employers, clients, or casting directors. Therefore, it's essential to ensure your headshot accurately represents you in the best light possible (pun intended).

General Guidelines for Everyone

Before diving into specifics for men and women, let's cover some general rules that apply to everyone:

  • Choose the Right Colors: Opt for colors that complement your skin tone. Darker colors like navy blue or dark gray are universally flattering and convey professionalism. Light blue can brighten your appearance, especially if you have a lighter skin tone.
  • Avoid Busy Patterns: Wear clothing with solid colors. They work best for headshots because they keep the focus on your face. Busy patterns or logos can be distracting.
  • Fit Is Key: Ensure your clothes fit well. Ill-fitting clothes can look sloppy and detract from the professional quality of your headshot.

What to Wear for Headshots: Women

Clothing Style

  • Classic and Simple: Choose classic pieces like a blazer or a professional dress. These timeless pieces convey professionalism and elegance.
  • Necklines Matter: A V-neck or scoop neck can elongate your neck and frame your face beautifully. Avoid anything too low-cut.

Colors and Patterns

  • Flattering Shades: Darker colors are generally a safe bet, but don't shy away from color if it complements your skin tone. A pop of color can make your headshot stand out, especially if it also complements your surroundings if taken outdoors.
  • Minimal Patterns: If you do choose a pattern, make sure it's minimal and not distracting.

Makeup and Hair

  • Professional Makeup Artist: If possible, hiring a professional makeup artist can make a significant difference. They can enhance your features in a natural way that translates well on camera.
  • Hair: Your hairstyle should be neat and professional. It should frame your face without overwhelming it.

What to Wear for Headshots: Men

Clothing Style

  • Tailored Suits: A well-tailored suit can make a powerful statement. It suggests professionalism and attention to detail.
  • Shirts: Opt for a crisp, clean shirt. Light blue or white are classic choices that work well for most skin tones.

Colors and Patterns

  • Dark and Light Combinations: Pairing a dark suit with a lighter shirt can create a pleasing contrast that draws attention to your face.
  • Simple Patterns: If you choose to wear a pattern, like a pinstripe, keep it subtle.


  • Neat Grooming: Ensure your facial hair is well-groomed or opt for a clean-shaven look. Your hair should be neatly styled, keeping the focus on your face.

Final Preparations for Professional Headshots

As you approach the culmination of your headshot preparation, it's essential to intertwine your unique essence with the professional ambiance of the photo session. This harmonious blend not only ensures your headshot is a genuine representation of your persona but also elevates the professional caliber of the photograph.

Embrace Your Individuality

While it's crucial to adhere to the professional standards and guidelines outlined, infusing your attire with elements of your individuality can set your headshot apart. This could mean selecting an accessory, like a lapel pin, for instance, that holds personal significance or choosing a color that resonates with your personality. These subtle yet impactful choices can add depth to your headshot, making it memorable and distinct.

The Role of Comfort and Confidence

The attire you select plays a pivotal role in your comfort level during the shoot. Comfort breeds confidence, and this self-assurance is palpable in your photographs. Choose outfits that not only look good but also make you feel good. This comfort allows you to present a relaxed, genuine expression, which is the cornerstone of a captivating headshot.

Collaboration with Your Photographer

A professional photo session with Ryan Donaldson Photography is a collaborative effort. Your photographer is your ally, aiming to capture your essence in the best light possible. Open communication about your vision, preferences, and concerns can greatly enhance the session's outcome. Discussing the look you're aiming for and the message you wish to convey through your headshot allows your photographer to tailor the session to meet your objectives.

The Importance of Lighting and Posture

Understanding the impact of lighting and posture can significantly enhance your headshot. Soft, natural light can illuminate your features beautifully, creating a warm and inviting image. Your photographer will guide you on how to position yourself to take full advantage of the lighting, highlighting your best features.

Posture also plays a crucial role in the perception of professionalism and confidence. A straight, yet relaxed stance can convey a sense of assurance and approachability. Your photographer will likely direct you on how to adjust your posture subtly throughout the session to capture a variety of angles that showcase your professionalism and dynamism.

Final Review and Selection

After the session, reviewing the photographs with your photographer can provide valuable insights. This is an opportunity to observe how different outfits, angles, and expressions translate on camera. Selecting the headshot that best represents your professional image and personal brand is a critical step. This chosen image will serve as a visual introduction to potential employers, clients, or collaborators, making a strong first impression.


Dressing for your professional photo shoot doesn't have to be daunting. By following these guidelines and considering factors like skin tone, clothing style, and colors, you can ensure your headshots look both professional and authentic. Remember, the goal is to create a headshot that represents the best version of yourself, blending professionalism with your unique personal style.

Ready for Your Professional Headshot Session?

Capture your best self with Ryan Donaldson Photography! Elevate your professional image with our expert headshot services. Book your session now and get ready to make a lasting impression!