One of the most common questions I hear from clients is, “What Should I Wear?!” No matter what kind of photo I am making, the issue of wardrobe is always looming. Of course, I have advice about what to wear for all kinds of photos, but here I’ll offer recommendations for a business headshot session. After all, what you wear is part of the first impression your corporate portrait gives to employers, business partners, and customers.
Tip 1: Dress how you want to be seen.
Along with pose and expression, clothing helps communicate a message to the viewer. What you wear in your business portrait says something about you. Are you approachable, comfortable, formal, or casual? Are you a scholar or someone in high-tech? Are you an entrepreneur or an employee? Ask yourself, “How do I want to be seen?” Then look at the clothing you have picked out and make sure you’re communicating the right message in your business portrait.
Tip 2: Remember that a business portrait isn’t a fashion show.
Of course, while clothing is part of a first impression, we know that anyone who views your photo is looking first at your face. Your eyes, expression, and smile are far more important that your clothing. Avoid clothing that will overpower your face. Bright colors, busy patterns, flashy jewelry, clothing that has words or logos, and revealing clothing can all distract the viewer from seeing your face in a photograph.
Tip 3: It’s all about the neckline.
It’s perfectly acceptable to bring a few different shirts with you to your session and I can help you decide what will look best. Think about the neckline of your shirts as the most important factor, though, since the majority of business portraits are tightly cropped neck-and-shoulder shots. I never recommend short sleeves or sleeveless tops, low necklines, turtlenecks, and shiny fabrics. (Of course exceptions abound.) Regardless of whether your business style is casual or formal, I always think a suit jacket or blazer is a nice addition. And if you need to wear a necktie, come prepared with a few options.
Tip 4: Keep colors darker than your skin.
Wearing colors that are slightly darker than your skin tone will help direct the light and attention to your face. We want your face to be the first thing people see when they look at your business portrait. Of course, if you know what colors work well on you, bring those options. Typically, people find that clothing similar to their eye color is flattering. It’s best to avoid pure black and pure white tops, unless you’re wearing a jacket or blazer on top.
Tip 5: Make sure it fits!
The fit of your clothes is important for two reasons: we want you to look good and we want you to feel good. Nothing feels worse that having your picture taking while wearing clothing that doesn’t fit properly. Try it on a few days before and look at yourself in the mirror. I never recommend buying anything new on the day of your photo shoot. If you have to go shopping, do it a few weeks in advance so you have time to wear the clothes and make sure they are comfortable.
Tip 6: Easy on the accessories.
When it comes to accessories, less is more. Jewelry, watches, and pocket squares can all provide a nice accent or splash of color to your portrait, but usually only one of those things is necessary. Again, feel free to bring a few options for jewelry and accessories and I can help you decide what works best.
Tip 7: Iron your clothes.
Trust me, as someone who HATES to iron clothes (and doesn’t even own an ironing board), it makes a big difference. If your clothes look wrinkled in real life, they’ll look wrinkled in the photo. And no, I will not Photoshop that.
Tip 8: Take care of yourself!
Okay, so this part is not really about your wardrobe, but taking care of your appearance overall will make a difference in your photo. Drink lots of water and get plenty of sleep in the days leading up to your portrait session. Make sure your teeth are clean. Get a haircut if you need one (preferably a few days before your session.) And if you have to shave your face, do it several hours before your session. That red, freshly shaven look doesn’t really work.
The most important thing to bring to your session is a positive attitude and trust that your photographer will help you look your best. I promise not to let you leave with a photo that you don’t love!