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 is the theme of this shoot?
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?
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, emotion and posing, but I hope it helps a little bit.
This will show a very cozy, very relaxed version of you — a great look if you work from home or even if you’re a blogger/influencer, because I’m talking about shooting in your sweats, leggings and/or PJs! No shoes needed for this look, but slippers work!
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 110% says I’m easy going and I’m relatable.
This is just a little step from Casual. Maybe switch your jeans to a skirt or dress pants; Change out the t-shirt for a more form-fitting top; Perhaps you have a cute, comfortable dress that speaks to you?
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.
SEMI-FORMAL & FORMAL
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 category is wildly open to interpretation, but I here’s what I would put into the ‘formal’ category:
- Matching sets/suits
- Tailored looks
SEMI FORMAL would be slightly dressing down a formal look – ie, maybe we lose the shoes, maybe it’s a shirt and skirt but no jacket, again it’s subjective, but this is definitely not a casual look. The posing can still be casual, but it’s –elevated.
Here’s a plethora of examples of formal and semi-formal:
This one is a little self explanatory. When it comes to fitness, matching sets are amazing and don’t be afraid to go with a form fitting outfit. Also.. make sure you have sporty foot wear or be prepared for shooting in bare feet.
‘CHARACTER’ OR UNIFORM
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.
Notice: there’s actually not a lot of solid black outfits throughout my examples. Black is an easy go-to and if it’s you–rock it. That being said, softer coloured neutrals or actual colour are going to deliver a friendlier message in your marketing.
To make your photos last between seasons, go with neutral tones that would match any brand or season.
.. 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.