The FIRST RULE OF how to dress for your headshots is this. Ask yourself:
WOULD I WEAR THIS TO A REGULAR AUDITION?
If the answer is yes, then wear it! If no, then don’t. Simple.
SECOND RULE: BRING MANY MORE CLOTHES THAN THE NUMBER OF LOOKS
OK, there’s more to it than that. First, there’s only a few “dont’s.”
-Super bright neons, as they reflect light onto your face and make all kinds of weird colors.
-Clothing that is too big on you, wrinkled, or has visible stains.
-Clothing with any kind of visible logo, unless you’re making a very specific choice to show it.
-Be careful with off-the-shoulder tops as you can appear shirtless if the photos are framed a certain way.
-Clothing that is very far from your normal wardrobe. Many people go to the store and buy lots of new outfits for headshots. While this is fine, I don’t really recommend it, as these clothes will be new, unfamiliar and not worn in yet. I can’t tell you how many times clients have shown up with arms full of brand-new clothes, and we end up starting with the top they walked in wearing!
That’s it! Everything else is fair game.
WHAT CLOTHING DOES WORK?
-Earth tones like burnt orange, sky blue, forest green, sunflower yellow, etc. If you can find it in nature, it’s a good color for headshot, especially if we’re shooting outdoors.
-Jewel tones like deep purple, gold, sapphire blue, rich emerald green, etc. Also really nice for color blocking and complementing eye color and skin tone.
-Bright primary colors, especially for children or people who want their headshots to really pop.
-Neutrals like grey, tan, and rose. If Apple has made a product in that color, it’s good for a headshot.
-Pure black or pure white. These aren’t ever my favorite, but if you love to wear them, then bring them!
Next, consider layers, pattern, and texture:
Texture is one of my favorite elements of a headshot. Thick wool, canvas, thatched linen, leather, denim, and chambray are all great ways to add another dimension to your photo.
Layering is also wonderful- an outdoor shoot in October can give us some really lovely options for things like scarves, fashionable coats, collared shirts under sweaters, blazers, leather or denim jackets and more. Of course layers work any time of year, so bring lots!
Patterns are risky, but can pay off. Many headshot photographers say to avoid them; I say as long as they’re not distractingly busy, they’re fair game. Camo, flannel, graphic patterns, houndstooth, etc. are all things to try. Do try and bring some solid colors in addition to any patterns, but know that patterns are not off-limits.
Whatever you bring, do make sure at least one of the pieces is a neutral and easily concealable top- an "A" or muscle shirt, or spaghetti-strap tank are both really useful for layering, as well as quick outdoor changes!
Then think about shape:
Choose clothing that fits you! Casting directors want to see what they can of your body shape as well as your face, so make sure you’re not covering up with baggy clothes. Avoid stuff that’s too tight, too- you want to look and feel comfortable wearing your clothes in front of the camera.
Try to create a color block:
Start with your eyes. You should be wearing at least one piece of clothing that directly matches or contrasts them. Blue eyes look great with a blue shirt or orange scarf, for example. We’ll also use backdrops and whatever we find outside to help with this. Again, turn to nature- think about the blocks of color you see in certain outdoor scenes. A summer seashore (tan sand, bright blue sky, dark grey ocean) or a late afternoon autumn walk in the woods (orange sun, brown earth, dark green pines, bright yellow leaves) both produce very appealing color palettes.
Finally, consider character and type:
Your headshot tells a story. It can be helpful to tailor it towards the parts you want to be called in for. I’ll use myself as an example. I’m the age and look of a new-ish dad, a junior partner in a law firm, an early-career politician, a software developer, a mid-ranking soldier, a successful artist. If I want to play to type, I will choose clothes that are a bit more conservative but not stuffy. I may shave all of my scruff. I might hint at these potential casting choices by wearing close to what these real-life people would wear. I won’t dress to try to look cooler or younger or older than I am, because that would be misleading. Also, while dressing in the direction of your casting is OK, avoid literally wearing a costume unless you are asked by an agent or casting director to do so.
Oh, and as far as shoes and pants, just wear what you’re comfortable in, unless you need some full-body shots. All of the rules above apply.
AMAZING! BUT WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE SHOOT?