Dressing for your headshots is a lot like dressing for a job interview. Your look matters.
My husband told me a story recently about a man who came to interview at the clinic site he works at. The HR manager related to him that although the interviewee was a ten on paper and answered all his questions well, he dressed too casually for the interview. This raised concerns about the man’s respect and commitment for the job, so the HR manager ultimately hired someone else.
Now think about that for a second. That interviewee probably spent years building up his credentials. He seemed like a prime candidate, but he wasted his opportunity because he didn’t dress for the job.
Just like in interviews, your headshot clothing choice speaks volume about who you are and where you want to go. Follow the tips below to make sure that your headshots are winning instead of killing opportunities for you:
1) SUIT OR NO SUIT
This is the age old question. The quick rule is that if you’re an executive or a manager at your company, wear a suit jacket. Do the same if you have a desire to be moved into a management position at any point. However, the rule may not apply if you are a creative, a tech person, or a woman. If you’re a creative, sometimes dressing too corporate can make you lose credibility. It’s best for creatives to dress like the artists that they are.
In the tech world, you’ve made it when you can wear a t-shirt and jeans in a boardroom full of suits. However, unless you’re Mark Zuckerberg, let’s not get carried away. A button-down will probably work for your headshots, or you can suit up. It doesn’t hurt.
For women, a suit jacket conveys something a little more than what it does for men. A woman with a suit jacket is usually perceived to be more powerful than a woman without. If you’re a lawyer, wear a suit. If you’re a non-profit director, it may not be necessary. How you want to be perceived is how you should dress.
2) COLORS AND PATTERNS
If you want your headshots to last a few years, leave the patterns at home. Opt for solid colors for your headshots because it looks more timeless. The big question is: what color should I wear?
Did you know that colors can affect people’s emotions and actions? We use color theory for branding purposes, but it’s also applicable for headshots.
For example, the color blue conveys a sense of: calmness, serenity, cold, wisdom, loyalty, truth, and focus.
The color yellow conveys: happiness, laughter, cheery, warmth, optimism.
When you are considering what color(s) to wear for your headshots, think about what emotions you want to convey to the person seeing the image. Here’s an article if you want to read more about Color Psychology. When it comes to the shade, medium-toned colors look the best. For most skin tones, colors that are not too bright or too dark look the most flattering.
Colors to Avoid: Bright yellow, neon colors, magenta, bright white, colors that are too similar to your skin tone or hair color.
3) NECKLINE AND ACCESSORIES
You profile photo for LinkedIn may not be the same as the one you use for Facebook. That’s because your business headshot is for your job, but your Facebook profile photo is for your friends. At Musée Studios, we provide 2 looks with our headshot sessions because we want our clients to have options. Our clients will often shoot one professional look and one casual.
For women, the neckline and accessories play a big part in distinguishing one from the other. For business headshots, the preferred necklines for women are scoop neck, boat neck, and crew neck. If you choose to wear a v-neck, make sure that the V does not go down too deep and reveal cleavage. For accessories, wear minimal jewelry so that it does not distract from your face.
As for the more casual headshot, it’s okay to break the rules a little bit and show more personality. Wear clothing and accessories closer to what you normally wear to see your friends. You still want to keep it appropriate; just in case someone from your job sees your photos on Facebook.
For men, consider wearing a tie if you are shooting an executive portrait. However, if you want to appear more business casual, you can lose the tie.
Nothing you’ve read in this article is a hard fast rule. If you want to be a rule breaker for your headshots, just break them intentionally for a good reason.