Best Colours to Wear for Your Headshots

What to do and what to avoid

By Author and Professional Photographer Post Modified November 25, 2023 @ 9:25 am

Practical guide on what to wear at your headshot session

There’s already a lot of articles online about what to wear for your headshots, and we’ve partially covered this subject on Preparing for your headshots, and here if you wear glasses.

But not many, or none that we can see, cover the most practical reason for carefully considering what colour you should wear to your photo shoot. So on this page we will help you discover what you should do, and what to avoid for the best results with colour choices.

What Should you wear for a Headshot? and What Colour you wear are related but very different

Your headshots style is a subject we recommend you spend a bit of time exploring. Stay within your industry norms but we know that many company’s have brand guidelines, so don’t venture to off that unless your are the head of marketing and the company is looking for a fresh new look.

Let’s get into the practical detail.

Example Photos for Selecting Clothing Colour for Your Headshots

Contrast colours, dark background, light colour clothing

What may be obvious is the colour of the background of this photo and the colour of the blouse. The background is charcoal or nearly black, and the colour of the blouse selected is a mint green with a simple pattern.

Advantages, the style of the photo overall is in keeping with the company guidelines, whist at the same time the staff member stands out clearly as the hero in the headshot, as it should be. Below let’s look at an example of the opposite.

Choose the Right Wardrobe for Your Headshot. By Orlando Sydney Photography

Choose the Right Clothing. For this photo shoot we knew the client wanted a dark background. The staff were advised to avoid black clothing as much as practical. Turned out very nice.

Below; White shirt on a White background, Avoid

Here’s a photo that is the opposite of the above with contrast coloured headshot. This one below is with a white background, sometimes best avoid white shirts or tops.

Technically a difficult photo for the photographer to capture and get right. Retaining enough detail on the shirt while keeping some separation with the background is a fine balancing act and not for beginners.

Male Headshots at Office in Haymarket Sydney.

White shirt with a pure white background, avoid this combination if possible. Possible solution is to have a dark coloured jacket.

The use of Bright Colours

Using bright colours is something we like but it appears to remain and very small niche. Strong colours can help to make your headshot stand out and add a touch of personality but should be used with careful consideration.

We like it when the wardrobe choice complements or is a shade of the colour of the background. In other instances it can match the skin tone or event the lipstick. We see this trend ticking along but not widespread adoption, unfortunately.

Business Portrait Profile Photo with Complementary Background Colour. By

Example of headshot trend by using a complementary background colour to the jacket

Bright Coloured Background to Complement

Headshots with solid coloured background to match skin tone. By

Example photo with a solid coloured background to complement skin tone

Sydney Female Headshot with gradient colour background. By

Example photo with a Gradient colour background, and with Complementary Background Colour. Colour picked from the lipstick

Headshot Minimalism Trend

Minimalist headshots are all about simplicity, no doubt you’ve read this in other articles. We call this one bogus as 95% of headshots are minimal because the background is typically a simple solid colour or gradient. You can’t get more minimal than that.

Yes, headshots typically feature a plain background and a simple pose, allowing your face to be the focal point. Environmental or prop headshots may be quite different. So this trend has definitely taken hold the last 10 or more years. We consider this type to be more of a staple than a trend.

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Headshot Tips: How to Choose the Best Colours to Wear

Your headshot is often the first impression you make on potential employers, clients, and partners, so it’s important to choose colours that make you look your best. Here are a few tips:

  • Consider your skin tone. Different colours look better on different skin tones. If you have a fair skin tone, you may want to choose lighter colours, such as white, cream, or light pink. If you have a darker skin tone, you may want to choose richer colours, such as navy, burgundy, or emerald green.

  • Choose solid colours. Solid colours photograph best, as they don’t create any distracting patterns or textures. Avoid wearing patterns, stripes, or large prints, as these can make you look busy in your headshot.

  • Consider the occasion. If you’re getting a headshot for a professional setting, you may want to choose more conservative colours, such as navy, black, or grey. If you’re getting a headshot for a more creative or casual setting, you can afford to be a bit more adventurous with your colour choices.

Here are a few specific colour recommendations:

  • Neutrals: Black, navy, grey, and white are all classic colours that look great on everyone. They’re also versatile enough to be worn for any occasion.
  • Jewel tones: Jewel tones, such as sapphire blue, emerald green, and ruby red, are a great way to add a pop of colour to your headshot. However, be careful not to choose a colour that’s too bright or overwhelming, as this can distract from your face.
  • Earth tones: Earth tones, such as brown, khaki, and olive green, are another great option for headshots. They’re natural and flattering on most skin tones.

No matter what colour you choose, make sure that your clothing is well-fitting and wrinkle-free. You may also want to avoid wearing anything too low-cut or too revealing.

Here are a few additional tips:

  • If you have glasses, make sure that the frames don’t clash with your clothing.
  • If you’re wearing a tie or scarf, choose a colour that complements your outfit.
  • Avoid wearing white if you’re going to be shooting against a white background. See above example.
  • If you’re not sure what colours to wear, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and choose more conservative colours.

By following these tips, you can choose the best colours to wear for your headshots and ensure that you make a great first impression.

Here are some additional tips for specific professional groups:

  • Business headshots: Choose a colour that conveys the image you want to project. For example, if you want to appear professional and trustworthy, you may want to choose a dark suit and tie. If you want to appear more approachable and creative, you may want to choose a lighter colour, such as blue or green.
  • Corporate headshots: Many corporations have specific guidelines for headshot attire. Be sure to check with your company’s HR department before your headshot session. (This is a question we ask most of the time for each enquiry).
  • Casual headshots: If you’re getting a headshot for a more casual setting, like for a social media profiles or dating websites, you can afford to be more adventurous with your colour choices. However, it’s still important to choose colours that are flattering and professional.

No matter what industry you’re in, it’s important to choose headshot colours that reflect your personal brand. If you’re not sure what your personal brand is, think about the image you want to project to others. Do you want to appear professional, trustworthy, and creative? Or do you want to appear more approachable and friendly? Once you have a good understanding of your personal brand, you can start to choose headshot colours that align with it.

Bonus tips for choosing the best headshot colours:

  • Consider your hair colour. If you have dark hair, you may want to choose lighter colours to contrast with your hair. If you have light hair, you may want to choose darker colours to make your hair stand out.
  • Think about your makeup. If you’re wearing makeup, make sure that the colours you choose complement your skin tone and eye colour.
  • Be aware of the background. If you’re shooting against a white background, you’ll want to choose colours that don’t blend in. If you’re shooting against a darker background, you can choose lighter colours. Yes, this is repeated because it is important and often overlooked, even by professional headshots photographers.

Finally, remember that the most important thing is to choose colours that make you feel confident and comfortable. If you feel good about how you look, it will show in your headshot.

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General Headshot Tips

How do I pose for headshots?

Casual relaxed pose; The relaxed pose captures the way you look when you’re drifting off in thought. The smiling pose; a headshot that shows your soft smile. Neutral pose or assertive expression pose is an option depending on your profession.

What Should I Wear for a Headshot?

Avoid fine detailed repetitive patterns as moiré will be difficult to remove in post production. If in doubt, bring a few choices of colours to add some life to the standard black and white clothes.

How should I prepare for a Headshots?

To prepare for your Headshots use this brief outline.

Allow enough time, plan ahead of time, your hair, clothing and travel to the location.

Before heading out to the actual photo shoot, check your hair, makeup if any under different lighting conditions. Your clothing should be clean and pressed or ironed and be lint free.

I wear glasses, what are some tips for taking a great headshot with glasses?

A few tips for taking a great headshot with glasses: Clean your glasses. This may seem obvious, but it’s important to make sure your glasses are clean before your headshot session. Any smudges or fingerprints will be very visible in your photos. If you usually wear them everyday, then wear them for the photo session.

Should I wear jewelry in a headshot?

Our suggestion is to not wear anything that is distracting, jewelry can be a distraction. If the role you’re looking for will have a the likelihood of wearing embellishments, perhaps consider it. Otherwise suggested no unless it is small or non removeable.

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