Smart Styling: What to Wear for Professional Headshots

Table of Contents

Deciding what to wear for professional headshots can be a game-changer in how you’re perceived professionally. It’s incredibly important to strike the right impression. In this piece, we’ll give you the lowdown on making choices that boost your image, from selecting colors that convey the right message to picking clothes that fit just right. Plus, we touch on common mistakes many make during their photo session and tips on avoiding them. After reading this guide, you’ll be able to ensure your headshot doesn’t merely capture attention, but also communicates your professional personality.

The Psychology of Color in Professional Headshots

When it comes to professional headshots, every detail counts, but perhaps none so subtly influential as the color you wear. According to color psychology, different colors evoke different emotions in people. Choose the right color for your headshot and your image will not only pop but also convey a powerful message.

Choosing the Right Palette

Selecting the perfect color palette for your headshot isn’t just about looking good. It’s about understanding how different colors communicate various traits and emotions. Dark colors, like navy blue or gray, are often associated with formality and leadership qualities. Their commanding presence, often essential in certain careers, is underscored by the way they exude control and power.

In contrast, light colors tend to give off a more approachable vibe. Wearing solid light hues can help you appear friendly while still maintaining professionalism.

Whether you go for darker tones to command respect or lighter ones to seem more accessible depends largely on what best suits both your skin tone and desired brand messaging. In either case, always aim for that polished look that will let viewers know exactly who they’re dealing with.

Find Out Exactly How Much You Could Make As a Paid Speaker

Use The Official Speaker Fee Calculator to tell you what you should charge for your first (or next) speaking gig — virtual or in-person! 

The right choice of patterns and textures can make you stand out, but for all the right reasons. Let’s take a look at some patterns you might want to wear—or avoid—in your professional headshot.

Solid Colors vs. Busy Patterns

The general rule of thumb is that solid colors are your best friend. They help keep the focus on you rather than your outfit. Busy patterns, on the other hand, can distract from your face and should generally be avoided.

If we consider the backdrop as well, contrasting colors ensure that you pop out rather than blend into the background. While pure white backgrounds are popular due to their clean look, wearing a stark white shirt without contrast can wash out features or blend into the background too much. This doesn’t mean reaching for neon green but opting for colors like navy blue or dark suit wear which project professionalism and confidence without overpowering the final image.

Textures in Clothing: What Works Best?

Clothing with too much texture or those prone to wrinkling easily may not translate well on camera—especially under studio lighting where every lint and crease gets magnified tenfold. Understanding fabric care, such as pilling, is a great way to prevent these instances. In addition, choosing high-quality materials and ensuring they’re well-maintained before your photo session is another great way to be prepared. If you’re considering adding some visual interest through texture, opt for subtle options like a fine herringbone or a light wool blend over knitted fabrics that might show signs of wear.

In conclusion, selecting outfits for professional headshots isn’t just about picking something off-the-rack that looks decent. It involves strategic thinking about colors, patterns, and textures—all aimed at creating an image that conveys professionalism while highlighting personal style confidently.

The Importance of Fit and Tailoring

The outfit you wear for your professional headshot should always be well-tailored. But why does tailored clothing make such a difference? The magic is in the way snugly tailored clothes accentuate your physique, presenting a neat image that radiates both professionalism and self-assurance. Think of tailoring not as an extra step but as an investment in your professional persona.

Tailored fits are not just about avoiding baggy or tight clothing but ensuring each piece complements your body shape perfectly. This attention to detail can significantly impact the final image captured during your photo session. It transforms an ordinary outfit into one that speaks volumes about your meticulousness and dedication—qualities every professional strives to showcase.

Additionally, putting effort into custom-fit attire isn’t just about looking sharp for that one pivotal company portrait. It’s crafting an entire collection of garments that reliably reflect your top form. Whether you’re attending business meetings or presenting on stage, the way your clothing fits sends out subtle cues about your attention to quality and detail—a trait highly valued across industries.

Accessorizing for Success

When preparing for your professional headshot, you must decide not only what outfit to wear, but also what accessories to include. A good rule of thumb? Less is more.

Jewelry That Enhances Not Distracts

If you decide to wear jewelry for your professional headshot, opt for simple accessories. For instance, stud earrings or a delicate necklace work nicely. The goal is to choose jewelry that enhance your appearance, lending to a refined aura, without overshadowing your presence. Too much bling can lead viewers away from focusing on you, so stick with accessories that are subtle yet sophisticated.

If you’re unsure about what counts as “too distracting,” consider this rule of thumb: if in doubt, leave it out. Your professional headshot is all about presenting yourself in the best light possible and making sure nothing detracts from showcasing who you are professionally. That means choosing jewelry that matches both your outfit and skin tone. In addition, avoid large statement pieces unless they’re an essential part of your personal brand identity. Lastly, ensure watches or bracelets don’t catch light in such a way that distracts from your face during the photo session.

The rationale behind opting for simple jewelry revolves around creating a focal point—your face. Plus, you want to maintain professionalism. Even small details can significantly influence how others view us professionally.

Free Download: 6 Proven Steps to Book More Paid Speaking Gigs in 2024​

Download our 18-page guide and start booking more paid speaking gigs today!

Mistakes to Avoid in Professional Headshots

The clothing you wear for your professional headshot needs to be just that—professional. Below are some general guidelines for you as you choose your outfit. While there are exceptions to these rules, you can’t go wrong by sticking to them.

  1. Steer clear of attire that shows signs of wear (e.g., wrinkles, stains, etc.).
  2. Avoid floppy collars. They tend to look unkempt instead of professional.
  3. Opt for solid colors instead of busy patterns that distract.
  4. Avoid brightly-colored clothing. This advice holds especially true when considering undershirts visible under dress shirts or blouses with low necklines.
  5. Dress according to industry standards. In other words, your attire should reflect both who you are and what field you’re in. When in doubt, dress up, not down.

When posing for a headshot, even seemingly small issues can significantly detract from the overall impact. As a result, you want to make sure you’re paying attention to all the details.

FAQs on What to Wear for Professional Headshots

What is the best color to wear for a professional headshot?

Navy blue wins big. It’s classic, flattering, and screams professionalism. Plus, it works well on camera.

What is the best thing to wear for a professional headshot?

A tailored blazer tops the list. It sharpens your look instantly, making you appear put-together and in charge.

What colors to avoid for professional headshots?

Ditch neon or overly bright hues. They distract more than they flatter. Stick with solids over busy patterns too.

How should I wear my hair for headshots?

Keep it natural but neat. Your everyday style usually works best as long as it doesn’t overshadow your face.


Deciding on the outfit for your professional headshots is like picking the backdrop for the story of your career. Solid colors, tailored fits, and minimal accessories shine through as key elements. These choices craft an image of professionalism and competence.

Pick dark or light hues with purpose; they’re powerful tools in shaping perceptions. Blazers and trousers are not just clothes but symbols of ambition.

Avoid distractions like busy patterns or overly bright colors that can detract from your presence. And remember, fitting matters—a well-tailored outfit boosts confidence.

In essence, every detail counts in a headshot session. It’s about presenting yourself at your best—confidently stepping into the frame of professionalism.


Explore Related Resources

How to Take a Professional Headshot at Home
Learn how to take a professional headshot at home without all the hassle of a professional photographer.
How to Become A Public Speaker
To become a public speaker who is actually successful, you have to carefully plan your business strategy just like any other entrepreneurial venture. That’s why we’ve put together this guide for how to become a public speaker. 
Choosing the Right Headshot Background: What You Need to Know
Discover how the right headshot background can transform your professional image. Learn to select, style, and perfect backgrounds for standout photos.

Learn How You Could Get Your First (Or Next) Paid Speaking Gig In 90 Days or Less

We receive thousands of applications every day, but we only work with the top 5% of speakers.

Book a call with our team to get started — you’ll learn why the vast majority of our students get a paid speaking gig within 90 days of finishing our program.

If you’re ready to control your schedule, grow your income, and make an impact in the world – it’s time to take the first step. Book a FREE consulting call and let’s get you Booked and Paid to Speak®.