I’ve had so many people ask me what I think they should wear to their headshots or branding sessions that I figured it’s about time to put together a guide. The thing is, this question does not have a one-size-fits all kind of answer. The answer comes down to ta da.. more questions!
What kind of business are you in? What is the industry like? Who are you marketing your images to? What does a day in your life/business look like? How do you want to be seen? What do you want the viewers of your photos to think when they see your images? What message do you want to portray? How do YOU want to feel about these photos?
These questions not only determine what you should wear but what direction we should go with your shoot, it determines location, lighting style, mood and so on. And you might have multiple answers to each of those questions that can have you feeling dizzy when it comes to shoot and time and the first query .. what should I wear?! One tip for a simple answer.. Wear what you would normally want your clients/audience to see you in. I typically will go to shoots in jeans a t-shirt and a leather jacket and I’ve had branding photos done in jeans and a t-shirt, but I’ve also put on a dress and added my jacket to show another side to my personality.
Here is another approach to figure out our timeless dilemma of wtf to wear. Keep in mind, these are not hard and fast rules, the lines blur between categories depending on each individual person. The mood and message all of these looks will depend on location and emotion, but I hope it helps a little bit.
This is Jeans and a t-shirt/sweater vibe and since business and branding is what ever you want to make it, it’s 100% acceptable to wear for your shoot. Add a jacket or blazer, a pair of nicer shoes and congrats you’ve achieved dressy casual. This look says I’m easy going, I’m relatable and I’m trustworthy.
This is just a little step from Casual. Maybe switch your jeans to a skirt or dress pants; Add a shirt & tie to those jeans instead of a t-shirt; Perhaps you have a cute dress that speaks to you; this look may have a few extra layers (button down + sweater + jacket). This look says I’m friendly, It’s wildly open to interpretation but it says I’m approachable, knowledgeable and I’d love to work with you.
This look would fall under the more traditional sense of polished & professional but as an aside, all of the looks we’re talking about 1000% qualify as professional looks as there is no longer a box that you have to fit in to be a total boss! That being said, this look would consist of your favourite power suit/dress/ensemble. The look itself says you take yourself seriously, that you know your sh*t and you command the room. Not to make this look sound like a hard ass.. it’s not! You can have a formal look and still portray a warm and kind human in your images (if that’s what you have in mind for your brand.
This is an on-brand ‘play dress up’ look or a ‘job in-action’ look. Examples would be images in your scrubs/uniform/workout gear; or perhaps we play up an aspect of your job that makes it very obvious to the viewer about what you do.
Colours & patterns: I often recommend to incorporate your brand colours somewhere in your shoot OR to keep it neutral as to not distract from your brand aesthetic.
***Most importantly.. you should feel good and confident in what you’re wearing and it should feel like YOU. Authenticity is the most important thing to portray in any kind of marketing and that starts with knowing what feels right to you.