Clothes for headshots

This is an image of a young woman in her 20's and shows how important clothes for headshots are. She has pretty blond hair that just skims her shoulders. It's highlighted in front to frame her face. It's been styled with soft curls. She's wearinf a white blouse with a v-neck and long sleeves. The sun is shing through the window and making the blouse very bright. Her arms are crossed. She has painted her nails a bright red and is wearing a silver bracelet on her right wrist. Her body is turned 45 degrees from the camera and she is looking directly into the camera. Her eyes are blue, her skin is pale and washed smooth with the sunlight. Her eyebrows have been nicely groomed to frame her face and are a dark blond. She's wearing small silver earrings that are barely visible. We talked about what wardrobe to bring for her session because clothes for headshots are important. This white blouse gives her a fresh, modern look and works great with her skin, eyes, and hair color. Headshot created by Rebecca Little Photography Pasadena, CA.
(Above) Branding image for Pasadena clothing designer. Image created by Rebecca Little Photography, Pasadena, CA.

Clothes for headshots

Clothes contribute to the success of your headshots. That’s why we’ll discuss outfit selection in detail before your session.

The image you portray and the mood of your headshot are created by outfit choices, posing, lighting, and background.

What clothes to bring to your headshot session

At the minimum, bring something pale (gold, peach, ivory, silver, pink, light gray), something black or dark blue, and something that adds a pop of color (red, purple, kelly green, blue).

Sweaters and scarves add texture and visual interest. It’s nice to wrap a large scarf around your shoulders to make it look like a sweater. It’s an easy way to add texture and color and get an additional look from the same outfit.

A white shirt is fine, but looks best under a jacket. Your eye goes to the brightest part of the photograph and we want the focus to be on your face. A bright shirt can distract the viewer.

Jewel tones photograph beautifully.

Sapphire, emerald, amethyst, and ruby all have high levels of saturation and look dynamic on film. When they compliment your skin and eye color, the effect is show-stopping. They are usually the best colors to bring for headshots.

This is an image of Margaret McAustin, former Pasadena city council member. She's wearing a bright turquoise blue textured jacket. The lapels are curved and feminine. There's a white scoop-neck t-shirt underneath. This is a good example of why clothes for headshots are so important. Look how flattering this outfit is on her. She's wearing tiny silver stud earrings. Her hair is short, blond, and curls nicely into her neck. She has a big smile and is looking directly at the camera. The sun is coming from behind her from my big studio window. The blue of her eyes is  set off by the blue jacket. I wanted to create a nice bright headshot that had a happy approachable feel.This image was created by Rebecca Little Photography Pasadena, CA
(Above) Headshot for former Pasadena city council member Margaret McAustin. Image created by Rebecca Little Photography, Pasadena, CA.
This shows how beautiful clothes for headshots can be. M is wearing a bright pink top that works perfectly in the backlight. The sweater is textures with decorative raised pieces. It has a high scoop neck and long sleeves. Her dark hair is long and reaches past her shoulders. She's turned slightly away from the camera but looking directly at us. She's smiling and her skin is pale and her eyes are brown. The light is coming from behind through a sheer white fabric that softens and diffuses the light. It's so flattering on so many types of skin. This headshot was created by rebecca Little Photography Pasadena, CA.
(Above) One of a series of family portraits at my Pasadena studio. Image created by Rebecca Little Photography, Pasadena, CA.

Pale colors can be a good headshot wardrobe choice

Some photographers think that pale colors can make you look washed out. They can if photographed incorrectly. Pastels can look ethereal and dreamy, but are not always right for acting or professional headshots.

Pale colors work perfectly for my favorite backlit shots. Backlighting is when the light is behind you. I love to bounce it off a white surface and back into your face so it wraps around you, softens your skin, smooths out any lines, and looks super flattering.

Backlighting doesn’t work as well with dark colors, but works wonderfully with brights and pastels.

Some say that when considering clothes for headshots, you shouldn't choose light colors, but look how nice this looks. Definitely not for work or formal use, but if you are a makeup artist or designer, this lingerie look could be appropriate. She's wearing an ivory silk top with spaghetti straps and trimmed in lace. She's wearing a large opal pendant on a thin gold chain. Her brown hair has blond highlights and rests on her shoulders. She's leaning against a window. the window is covered in sheer white curtains. The light envelops her and wraps around her bare arms and face. It's a soft flattering image and absolutely feminine. This backlit image was created by Rebecca Little Photography Pasadena, CA.
(Above) One of a series of portraits for personal use. Image created by Rebecca Little Photography, Pasadena, CA.

Always bring black

I always recommend you bring a black t-shirt, blouse or wrap dress. It can’t be beaten as a wardrobe staple. Look at the image below. The simple black t-shirt doesn’t distract from her face and works well tonally with this black and white image.

This strong black and white branding image is striking. L is wearing a simple black t-shirt and cropped dark jeans. She's standing and looking directly at the camera, unsmiling. her hand on her in her pockets. I've heard photographers recommend against wearing black for headshots, but it works perfectly for the right person. This images illustrates that clothes for headshots determine the mood of the photo along with lighting and background. This editorial portrait was created by Rebecca Little Photography in Pasadena, CA.
(Above) Portrait for children’s book author. Image created by Rebecca Little Photography, Pasadena, CA.

Clothes for headshots – Traditional or non-traditional?

Conservative professionals like lawyers or financial advisors should stick to a suit and tie to show professionalism and a steady presence.

Artists, architects, designers, and anyone in the arts are assumed to be less conservative and can wear colorful clothing. Open shirts, lower-cut blouses, and statement jewelry can all work with less formal headshots.

Necklines and turtlenecks

In terms of necklines for clothes for headshots, V-necks and scoop necks are the most flattering. They open up your face and elongate your neck.

Turtlenecks are ok for a specific look. A black turtleneck can look serious and commanding, and good for someone who wants to appear confident and in charge.

A black turtleneck is a classic, polished look (think Audrey Hepburn). In my experience, if worn alone, it looks best with hair that’s cropped close or pulled back off the face.

A dark turtleneck directs all the focus to your face, which is ideal for a headshot. If you really love the look, let’s add it as one of your choices.

Note: A turtleneck is called a roll neck or polo neck in the United Kingdom and a skivvy in Australia.

I created a series of acting headshots for Angie, a local actor. In this one she's wearing a black turtleneck that frames her face. She has long black hair that reaches her waist. She's sitting on a stool, slightly edged forward. She's wearing light blue jeans that are barely in frame. She has a serene smile and dark eyes. It's important to put time into choosing your headshot outfits for a successful outcome. Images created by Rebecca Little Photography, Pasadena, CA.
(Above) Actor Angie is wearing a black turtleneck for her theatrical headshot. Image created by Rebecca Little Photography, Pasadena, CA.

Studio wardrobe is available

Most of my studio wardrobe is geared toward Portrait Experiences. I have all kinds of romantic outfits that include tulle, feathers and sequins, tea-stained fabrics and lace, romantic skirts, and gossamer tops. We can mix and match my pieces with yours.

For headshots, I have a variety of scarves that I sometimes use to mimic a top or to add a bit of color

Questions about clothes for headshots?

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