Canadian Commercial Fashion Photographer


6 PRO Styling Tips: What to Wear For Your Next Headshot

So, you’re finally getting a new headshot. It’s about time! So many of our jobs now rely on not just products or services but a personal relationship that starts with a first impression, and that means your headshot needs to convey your wonderful self in the blink of an eye. It’s a big job for one photo, but armed with some tips (and the direction of a professional photographer like myself, of course!), you can make the most of your headshot session. Today’s tips are from Stylist Maygen Kardash who has been a leader in her industry for over a decade—she’s been Key Wardrobe for countless music videos, national television commercials, and print ads, not to mention shaping the wardrobe paths of people who live on stage, work from home, or head up boardroom meetings. Here are her top tips for dressing the part for your upcoming headshot session.

1. Know Thineself.

Without accurately representing yourself, it’s hard to build a relationship with like-minded people. A viewer should be able to glance at a headshot and know if they’re looking at a life coach, lawyer, or artist. Before you even open your closet, reflect on what part of your personality you wish to convey.

2. Colour Theory.

Dark colours are perceived as serious or chic and lighter are seen as cheerier or calm, earth tones feel grounded and welcoming, red exudes power, and nothing beats blues for honesty. But above all, choose colours that flatter you. As a general rule, if you look better in true white, pick cool tones but if you’re more suited to cream, opt for warm. Remember to avoid colours too similar to your skin unless you intend to look naked in online thumbnails!

3. Dress By Design.

Avoid tiny patterns as they moiré on screens and can be distracting to your face (that’s the most important bit of you in a headshot, after all!) but if solid blocking bores you, rein in appropriate prints with a blazer or other second layer.

4. Minimalist vs Maximalist.

Boardroom professionals should dress for ladder-climbing success, which means sharp, simple lines. Actors and models must express their ability to shapeshift which, for a headshot, means paring down to basics (unless the casting calls for a specific look). For professionals in trend-sensitive or creative fields, your outfitting should expresses your individualism, your panache, and your eye for detail. Sometimes called the “rule of three”, your successful outfitting is rarely just “pants + shirt”, but rather involves an additional element like a blazer, tie, or statement necklace.

5. The New Look.

You don’t have to go on a shopping spree for your headshot, but do make sure your clothing fits well, is in good repair, and is free of lint and pilling. This seems like a no-brainer, but I assure you it needs to be said.

5. Showing Skin.

Depending on what you do for a living, your headshot may need to be cropped down the road and slivers of arms can look awkward. Ladies, if your shirt is low-cut, a thumbnail resize could spell nakedness. I’m not saying long sleeves are a necessity (especially not for models and actors), but they do make things easier in cropping. My advice is to bring a layer or two to try overtop and see what works best on camera.

6. Shine Gets Noticed.

There are a couple of schools of thought on this. One: a tie with sheen or a statement necklace is going to distract from your face since eyes go to sheen first, and two: in a world of stock-photo-outfitting, a bit of shimmer will make you stand out. I say, if your job requires your personality to shine (sales, performer, high-end Realtor), dazzle ‘em! But, if you’re expected to be serious or studious (mortgage broker, corporate manager, actor), go with classics that show you can put extravagance aside.