The Modern Headshot

The boring, stuffy headshot days are over. It is not always required that one wears a suit to interviews and the same goes for modern headshots. With the digital age in full force, any person in any business can benefit from having a professional headshot to present their best self, and you want to look and feel confident to do that. With the right wardrobe, lighting, and posing, we will create your best images.

Choosing the right outfit is the first step to help you achieve that professional, confident look you want in a headshot.

The type of career you have (or want) will help dictate how professional you should dress. Going for a CEO title? A suit is likely appropriate. Coach or counselor? Business casual will likely serve you best.

Then, think about fit and color. This often seems daunting, but with a little help, you can choose something perfect for you.

Read on for style tips to help you choose a wardrobe that both shapes your body and compliments your skin tone that you look and feel comfortable and confident wearing. Or learn more about this Houston portrait photographer.

Let’s start with some general tips on what to wear that are good for everyone.

1. Go simple. Stick with solid colors with varying textures and avoid busy patterns and small pin stripes – most people should avoid horizontal stripes, too. If a pattern, stripe, or polka-dot is more your style, compromise with a solid-colored jacket or sweater over it.

2. Do not wear the same color as the backdrop unless you are putting a jacket or sweater in a different color over it. Avoid neon or bright colors, especially if you have lighter skin. They reflect their color onto you and tint your skin color. For more tips on color choice, scroll down to find out what to wear to compliment your skin tone.

3. You may think oversized, flowy tops “hide” the things you might not like about your body, but the camera easily finds them. Choose form fitting clothes that add shape and interest to your figure (as long as they are not too snug).

4. Long sleeves (or at least ¾ length) are best because “the eye will go where skin shows.” Let’s bring focus to your smile and expression. Wear clothes that are wrinkle free, fit you well, and are comfortable – yep, take out the iron/steamer if needed the night before!

5. Shirts with logos or graphics are less desirable unless it’s something your job requires, or you are specifically trying to look “in uniform.”

6. This is NOT the time to try something with your hair or makeup that you haven’t done before. It’s best to get professional makeup and hair services, if possible, because these artists know how to make sure your skin looks great on camera and your hair is smooth and ready for photos.

woman wearing purple floral dress sitting in gray chair in modern headshot
corporate headshot of man in blue button up and jacket by Houston headshot photographer
branding session of woman in blue shirt in a wooded, natural area

Give Shape to Your Body

No one person fits exactly into one body-type category, and not everyone wants to look like the standard shape society has determined is the ideal for men and women. Instead, think of adding or taking away shape or balancing out your distribution to best flatter your body. The basic idea on what you see written below is to think about what you want to make appear larger and what you want to appear smaller, then choose items to help give that effect. We’ve categorized by body types to help you think about what to emphasize (or not) to look the way you want.

Either way, it’s important to carefully consider what to wear in a professional headshot. You want to feel good and look good, so stop right now and think about the general shape of your body. What you love about your body? What you might prefer to de-emphasize? Then, read on to brainstorm ideas on what to choose based on how your body is shaped. No matter what, giving your body some shape and definition will be most flattering for just about everyone.

Branding photo of man in button up and jacket sitting on desk in his office

Feminine Body Shapes

There are many options for wardrobe when it comes to the feminine look. You might prefer a dress or a skirt with a cute top. Maybe pants match your style better. You can’t go wrong either way, so pick what you love or go with both and have multiple looks to choose from!

If you have a straight silhouette with few curves where your shoulders and hips are about the same width and no waistline, you likely have a straight or rectangular body shape.

Choose: Look for structured or tailored tops with a fitted waistline. Wrap shirts or dresses and belts help create an illusion of shape. Add a fitted jacket or sweater that comes in at the waist.

Avoid: Flowy tops and straight shirts, pants, and dresses.

People who have narrower shoulders than hips with their weight distributed in the lower half of the body are considered to have a triangle shaped body. Let’s think of this as more on the bottom. If you want to balance out the distribution, here are great suggestions.

Choose: Fitted shirts with wide necklines, ruffles, embellishments, statement sleeves, or thick texture to even the look of weight between the top and bottom of your body. Dark bottoms bring the attention up slimming your hips and thighs. A-line or fit-and-flare dresses are a great choice, too.

Avoid: Patterned skirts or pants and anything that brings attention to the lower part of your body.

woman realtor posed by stairs at personal branding photo session in Cypress Texas

If your shape is an inverted triangle, your shoulders are wider than your hips. You might carry your weight in your chest and stomach areas with narrower hips and legs. Again, if you are looking for balance these options are great.

Choose: Think u- or v-shaped necklines that play down the shoulders. An open blazer with a fitted shirt and A-line skirt is a great combination. Darker shirts with a patterned skirt or pants could be great.

Avoid: Wide and low necklines like off the shoulder or square necks that emphasize the chest. Also, skip shoulder pads and boatnecks.

An hourglass shape is defined as having similar width shoulders to hips with a narrower, defined waistline. You really can go two ways with this depending on if you want to play up or play down your curves. For professional headshots, most people choose the latter due to amount of skin you might need to show otherwise.

Choose: V-necklines and fitted tops or dresses will work best. Select a pencil skirt or slim pants to enhance your curves and show your shape.

Avoid: Dresses and shirts made from stiff, heavy material look bulky and shapeless on an hourglass figure. The same goes for boxy cut tops.

If your hips and shoulders are narrower than the middle of your body, let’s call this oval shaped. Often, the legs are slender in comparison. When there is more in the middle, you might want to balance the distribution by creating a more defined waistline.

Choose: V-neck tops and plunging necklines flatter the oval body best. Look for full, flowing skirts that do not cling to your midsection. Prefer pants? Try straight, boot cut, or wide leg. Perfect the look with a belt or tailored waistline.

Avoid: Anything skintight will not be friendly to oval bodies. Skip the skinny jeans or tapered pants as they emphasize the middle rather than helping balance you out.

woman in black top and hounds tooth pants sits on brown chair in a modern headshot

Male Body Shapes

It’s usually much simpler when you are choosing a more masculine look. Pants are a must rather than shorts (99.9% of the time), and you can create interest easily by layering.

corporate headshot with male in navy sweater vest

If your body is slender with less body fat as well as muscle and often find it difficult to gain weight, a slim body defines your shape best. Most men’s clothing is designed for you!

Choose: Clothes that are not too tight and not too loose. It’s the Goldilocks fit here. Button down shirts that fit perfectly in the shoulders (seams right at the edge of your shoulder) and fall straight down is very important. Layer with a sweater or fitted jacket with flat front pants.

Avoid: Clothes that are too tight or clothes that are billowy will not flatter your shape.

Having little body fat and lots more defined muscles with shoulders wider than your hips (inverted triangle) and finding it easier to gain muscle or fat classifies your body as athletic.

Choose: Tailored shirts, slim-fit trousers (that are not too tight on your legs), and structured jackets showcase your build.

Avoid: Overly baggy clothes or ones that are too tight look sloppy and unprofessional.

People who store more fat, have plenty of muscles (less defined), and find it easier to gain weight are thought to have an endomorphic body type. They are not always considered overweight but can sometimes be called “stocky.” Let’s call this a little more to love.

Choose: Shorter jackets with structured shoulders and a button front help slim your shape. A darker shirt, sweater, or jacket also helps. Wear fuller cut pants or jeans.

Avoid: Skip the pleated pants – they actually add bulk, not hide it. Likewise, third layers only add on to the fullness.

Skin Tone and Complimentary Colors

Now you have some idea of what types of clothing items to choose for your next headshot update that flatters and fits your shape, but what about colors? Do you need to stick to gray and navy blue neutrals only? No! Your personality matters in headshots and branding images, so let’s dive into figuring out what colors will best flatter your complexion.

Woman wearing gold top with white jacket and black pants on green chair with gold accents in modern headshot

Determining Skin Tone

Knowing your skin’s undertone is the first step in helping you choose the right color clothing to flatter you best in your next headshot. People’s skin undertones range from cool to warm, and it’s fairly easy to figure out where you fall on the undertone map. Ready to see if you have warm or cool undertones? Take the test!

Undertone – Take the Test

Flip your wrist over and look at the color of your veins in bright, natural light (like near a window). Do they look green or blue? This is the best way to determine if you have warm or cool undertones. If your veins look more green-ish, your skin has more yellow colors and you likely have warm undertones. In this case, you also tend to tan easily. If your veins look blue or purple, and everyone can tell when you are blushing, you probably have cool undertones. If this is you, getting a sunburn happens more quickly for you than some. Not sure if it’s blue or green or do you see a mix of both? You might have neutral skin tones – it’s the most common.

You can also use the jewelry test to figure out your skin undertone. If you look better in gold jewelry, you’ve got warm undertones. If silver flatters you better, it’s cool undertones for your skin. If you look great in both types of jewelry, you might have neutral undertones.

Dressing for Neutral Undertones

This undertone is the most common. Experiment with lots of colors because you can! If you are looking for bright color options lean towards jade or teal. If you want a more neutral look, go with dark gray or navy.

Dressing for Warm Undertones

Choose earthy hues like olive and coral to compliment your warm skin undertones. Amber or lavender also work well, depending on the season. If you want to go bright, mustard yellow or hunter green are great options. Dare to be bold? Go with gold. Beige is a great neutral option for warmer skin. Avoid navy and gray during the summer season.

Dressing for Cool Undertones

Select clothing colors that are jewel-toned to best fit cool skin undertones. Emerald, sapphire, or ruby are great choices for a brighter color with cool skin, and navy or black will be your best neutral colors. Wanting to go not so bright? You can choose colors like a sky blue or a nice mint or pistachio green. Avoid warm yellows and oranges in most cases.

woman wearing bright pink jacket with black shirt and lots of jewelry posed in a modern headshot

Body shape and skin tone are the two most important things to consider when choosing what to wear for headshots. These tips should help you determine what looks best on you and allows you to feel less stressed during the choosing process. If you need more help, ask your photographer! When you book a full-service session with me, I will even come to your house and go through your closet with you to guide you to make the best decisions. Confidence in looking and feeling your best in front of the camera is my priority. Let’s create something together. Your world, my lens.

Similar Posts