Signature Wardrobe Headshot Outfit
Headshot Outfit c. 1882-1880. Photo by Charles Hewitt, photographer (1837-1912) via State Library Victoria

All of us at one point or another will need a Signature Wardrobe Headshot Outfit, even if it’s just for your passport or drivers licence. And these days, you will most likely get one for your work security card, and increasingly your employer’s website too!

Headshots vary in price and the level finish. Some inexpensive services are literally one shot and you’re done, while other more expensive services include full hair and makeup, several images, and retouching. Regardless of the level of service, they all need the same kind of thinking.

The Essentials of a Top Notch Headshot Outfit

Before we get into the tangible aspects of a headshot outfit, let’s consider the intangibles that can make or break your end result.

Intangible Elements

Purpose

The first thing you need to know about your headshot outfit is its purpose – why is the picture being taken? Your purpose quickly and easily rules clothes, accessories, and makeup in and out. The caring customer service professional photo on your employer’s website will be very different to the one you use on your bodybuilding fan site. Unless you are a superhero, you still need to look like you, so try not to get too costumey.

Photo shoots can be confronting. Regardless of why they’re being done, you are being observed as an object, and your position is directed by the desire for a pleasing arrangement of colours and shapes. It’s hard not to feel insecure in those circumstances, so when you plan your outfit, consider what will make you comfortable and increase your confidence.

Comfort

The temptation is to run out and buy something new, but you won’t be able to predict how it looks or feels on the day. Wearing something you already own and love, that doesn’t ride up or slip down will allow you to relax and enjoy the process. Similarly, wearing your usual makeup and hair won’t freak you out should you catch sight of yourself.

Confidence

To build up some resilience, you need to take special care of yourself in the days leading up to the shoot. Drink more water and eat more red and orange fruits and vegetables to bring a healthy glow to your skin. Exercise a little more to develop an ease with your body, and bring a little more fluidity to your movements. Prioritise sleep so that you are well rested and find it easier to deal with the process.

If you want to get your hair cut or coloured, do it a week or two beforehand to give it a chance to settle in. Don’t wash your hair the day of the shoot (frizzies!!!), do it the day before, and consider a nourishing treatment for shine.

Also, a few days before, give yourself an appropriate facial treatment such as nourishing, purifying, or redness reduction. You could consider using a whitening toothpaste if you feel a little insecure about your tooth colour.

Tangible Elements

Climate/Location/Activities

You will most likely be indoors, perhaps in your corporate offices or at a photography studio. It might be brightly lit and therefore hot, or the airconditioning may be turned up to compensate so it may be cold.

You’ll probably be standing, or maybe sitting, and will be slightly adjusting your pose according to the photographer instructions.

Presence

As mentioned above, prioritise comfort and confidence. Where you have the choice, dress in your favourite colours and styles; something that you know makes you look good. However, timeless classics or up to date fashions will probably be the best choices.

Clothes

Having said that, it’s a headshot and the focus will be your face (thus the emphasis on comfort).

Your clothes should fit well (not too tight and not too loose), and suit the purpose of the picture. Large-scale patterns or textures can give the impression they are wearing you, and small-scale can exceed the camera resolution to produce a moving wavy line effect (moiré) or merge to form an unexpected hue so solid colours often produce the best result.

Women may prefer to avoid deep cut tops to keep the attention on their faces.

Underclothes

I guess that depends on your purpose, but probably yes! A supportive bra will improve your posture, and a plain fabrication in a light or nude colour will not show through your clothes.

Shoes

Yes, it’s a headshot, but you need to wear the shoes to match the outfit so that you feel the part. Unless of course, it’s part of your attempt to look like someone who thinks outside the box.

Accessories

If you are a spectacle wearer, wear your glasses – partly for comfort and partly so when people meet you in person they aren’t surprised.

Some photographers suggest small and simple jewellery, and these will be fine for some people and some purposes. But if you have a large personality, or want to look more dynamic, one larger piece can make a statement. If you’re not sure how to carry this off, visit an art gallery and look at some “Old Masters”.

Grooming

Neat and clean; discrete makeup and tidy hair. If you can afford it, a professional will probably provide better photographic results, but if you aren’t firm, you may end up looking like someone else.

Wrap Up

Your headshot outfit will hopefully result in a picture that you can be proud of. One that conveys your authentic self, and makes you look like you know what you are doing. If you are in any doubt at all, you can contact the photographer to see what they recommend and take a range of accessories or outfits with you to see which they think is best. (Extra outfits don’t mean wardrobe changed mid-shoot, it just means  you get help picking the best option).

Bear in mind that people who haven’t met you, will think it is you. Just like a dating site picture, you need to consider updating it periodically when there are changes in fashion or your appearance, say every two to three years.


 

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