Options abound for mens attire in headshots these days. Business casual dominates the landscape. And yet, we still see many folks opting for a suit and tie. Here are a few guidelines for choosing what to wear.
A note here: We have people of all genders opting for men’s attire for photos these days. So when I say men’s attire, I am referring to what has been traditionally considered clothing for men. Also, I write this post from a commercial headshot perspective. Most of our clients are getting their headshots for business purposes. There is a whole different set of rules for social media profile photos and dating profiles.
Wearing a Necktie In Your Headshot
Ask yourself, “What is your audience?” If you are looking for a job in management you should consider opting for a jacket in your photo. Whether or not you wear a tie will depend on what is favored for the people that will be looking at your photo. Many lawyers wear a tie when they appear in court, so a litigating attorney may want to opt for a tie. Folks in the financial industry that work internationally or have a big audience on the east coast often opt for ties. Some organizations and conferences like neckties in the headshots for their speakers. You know your audience. Choose what speaks best to them.
When choosing your wardrobe combinations, I recommend staying away from huge patterns in your tie and shirt. Solid shirts with a small patterned tie look very sharp. Make your statement with your colors rather than your patterns. A shirt in light blue, lavender or grey works very well with a darker tie. A red or dark blue tie works well with a blue or light grey shirt. Consider purple with the lavender shirt. A white shirt can work as well and almost any color tie looks good with it. One color I really like for for a necktie is orange. It works well with blue, grey or white.
If you are wearing a striped shirt with a tie, look at the spacing on the shirt stripes and try to match it with a pattern with similar width between the pattern or consider a solid tie. A striped tie looks better with a solid shirt.
Matching Your Tie to Your Jacket
For your jacket, medium grey and blue work very well. Black or navy can work, but the detail of the jacket will be very dark in the final photo. A small pinstripe or chalk stripe is fine. Try to coordinate the width of your tie with the width of the lapels. For example, if you are wearing a modern, narrow lapel jacket, go with a narrower tie. If your lapels are more traditional, then do not wear a skinny tie. The best knot for most ties is a windsor knot. I have a video about how to tie your necktie.
I recommend getting a few shots without the tie at the end of your session. Some of my clients that are required by their employer to have a tie in their company headshot, like to get one without a tie for LinkedIn or Facebook. Even if you don’t need no-tie photo now, you might need it later if you change jobs. At SRK Headshot Day, we keep your photos for future choices.
Jacket without a Necktie for Your Men’s Attire Headshot
Those choosing not to wear a necktie can still look very executive without a tie. You can be a little more daring with the pattern and colors. A dark blue solid shirt can look very sharp under a lighter grey jacket. Some bolder stripes or checks can work as well. Show a little creativity here. Especially if you are in a more creative field like art direction or marketing.
Fun options exist on jackets these days as well. Unstructured jackets can look very nice in a headshot. Make sure you pair those with a less traditional shirt, perhaps opting for something with a looser fabric weave.
I am not a fan of polo shorts under a jacket. The collars don’t lay well. You look like you showed up at a formal restaurant under-dressed and were handed a blazer.
You can wear a t-shirt under your blazer. Stay away from white. Stay away from v-neck here. Wear crew-neck with a medium tone of grey, blue or any jewel or primary colors.
Do not wear a white t-shirt under an open-collared shirt. This results in a very distracting white triangle that draws the eye first when the viewer looks at your photo. If you just have to wear a t-shirt wear one that is not white or wear a v-neck.
Try a pocket square with your jacket for a pop of color. Here are some ways to fold a pocket square.
Men’s Attire for Headshots – A Shirt With No Jacket
If you aren’t wearing a jacket, wear a collared, button-up shirt. It draws less attention to the neck and helps frame your face. I think dress shirts work better than polo shirts. Solid colored shirts work best when you aren’t wearing a jacket. Black is not ideal and white is awful. Think about background color. If you are shooting on white, a darker shirt is better. If you are shooting on black or a very dark background opt for something lighter, but not white.
I don’t like stripes or patterns when you aren’t wearing a jacket. They tend to be distracting and work better under a jacket. If you have to wear a pattern, here are some tips for wearing patterns.
Other Tips For Men’s Attire In Headshots
Clean, freshly-pressed shirts looks sharp. You look like a person that comes prepared for the task at hand. Don’t show up with a rumpled shirt and expect it to be “fixed in post”. Don’t pack your attire in a backpack and pull its out five minutes before your photo session. Use a wardrobe bag at least bring them in on hangers.
Newer shirts that aren’t faded and don’t have frayed edges on the collars are a must. If your wardrobe looks tired, so will you. Bring collar stays for your shirt to keep the collars from curling up.
Try your clothes on before coming to the photo shoot. Make sure they fit. Button that top button if you plan to wear a tie. Does it choke you? It is too small. Can you fit two or three fingers between your collar and neck when it is buttoned? It is too big. If the shirt does not fit, you won’t acquit yourself well.
In wider portraits match the pants to the jacket, or wear a suit. Have a nice belt. If it’s a full body photo, shine those shoes or clean those Air Jordans.
If you have lost a lot of weight, get a new set of clothing or you will look ill in the too-large clothes.
Make sure eye glasses are clean and in good repair. Bring multiple pairs if you have them. Wear your glasses in your photo if you usually wear them in your business dealings. Here are more tips on wearing glasses in your headshot.
If you need a hair cut, visit the barber or stylist at least three or four days before your headshot so your hair has a chance to settle in and look natural.
Shave. Make sure if you have a late afternoon photo session that you shave. Particularly if you have dark whiskers. Men with beards should think about trimming up that beard so that it looks sharp.
Bring Multiple Wardrobe Options to Your Photo Session
Bring three or four options for the shoot. This gives us the ability to coordinate an overall look based on the background or just talk you out of that awful “favorite” tie you have worn for every headshot for the last 25 years.
Plan your outfits a few days before your session so you can buy new wardrobe items if you need to.
Now that you know what to bring for your headshot session, go ahead and book that session and update that headshot. We will be glad to consult with you on wardrobe at your session. SRK Headshot Day has multiple locations and days where individuals can book their headshot session. We can also bring the team to your location if you have a larger group that needs headshots.
Now that you know what to do, book your headshot. Bring lots of choices and we will coach you through the process.