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Men’s Headshot Attire

These days we have a plethora of men’s headshot attire options available to us depending on our target audience. Traditionally, headshots have been captured with a shirt, jacket and tie. That said, in some regions, and for some professions, more casual looks are more accepted these days, and may even connect with your target audience better.

As a professional headshot photographer, this post is going to show you how I advise my clients to dress so you can get the best portraits possible from your upcoming photoshoot. This post will outline a few basic looks you can bring to your photographer so they can help you hone an overall look that will harmonize with your headshot background. You’ll also learn some do’s and don’ts so you can avoid some common pitfalls and walk away with a polished headshot that will connect with your intended audience.

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links at no cost to you. Please read my disclosure for more info.

Should You Wear A Jacket For a Headshot?

In general I think men look better when wearing a jacket for their headshots. Even if you want a more casual look I’d still wear a jacket and instead omit the tie rather than just wear a shirt. The reason for this is because a jacket will greatly improve your shilloutte and will help accentuate the natural v shape of your body which is more attractive.

When assembling your outfit, I recommend you start with the jacket and build the outfit around it. Pairing it with the shirt and tie is the best place to start because the jacket is the hardest piece to tailor to your body and is generally the piece most of us have the least options of in our closets.

men's headshot attire

Jacket Tips for Men’s Headshot Attire

When choosing which jacket to wear for your headshots, there are a few things to consider that will help increase the quality of your headshots. Firstly make sure that your jacket is made from 100% natural materials. Avoid jackets with synthetic materials like rayon or nylon as these materials are lower quality and will appear as such in your photos. 

Most quality jackets are made totally or mostly of wool, and are sometimes blended with materials like cashmere, silk, mohair and alpaca. All suits should show their material content inside the garment on the tag. High quality jackets will also usually show the thread count of the garment with “super 100” or above denoting a higher quality fabric.

Higher super numbers indicate softer but less durable fabrics. Ergo, a super 180 suit would be softer than a super 100, however the super 100 material will be more durable. Suits intended for daily wear will generally be constructed from super 100-140 while more formal suits will generally be in the super 150-300 range. 

oxxford tag
This manufacture shows the percentages of each material used and thread density

Best Suit Color For Headshot

The easiest jacket colors to harmonize with most  headshot backgrounds are grays, charcoals, blues earthy greens and browns. Black suits are traditionally more formal and are the hardest color to pair colors with for shirts and ties. Black is also the  easiest colors to lose on dark backgrounds.

For this reason if you think you want a black suit, I generally find that most guys are happier with either a navy or charcoal suit for a darker kind of aesthetic. Navy and charcoal are easier to pair with ties and shirts and will age better than black suits will. White or other loud color jackets should generally be avoided for headshots  to keep the attention on your face and avoid clashes with the background.

Safe Jacket Color Choices

Navy blue jacket men's headshot attire
Tom Ford Navy Blue Jacket
Grey jacket men's headshot attire
Kiton Grey Jacket
blue suit men's headshot attire
Stefano Ricci Blue Jacket
charcoal suit men's headshot attire
Tom Ford Charcoal Jacket

Shirt Tips For Men’s Headshot Attire

When choosing a shirt for your headshot, you should always pair the shirt color to the color of the jacket. This is much easier than trying to do it the other way around by pairing a jacket to a shirt you like. Therefor it’s always important to find the jacket you like first and then enhance it with the shirt second. 

Spread collars are the most common and easiest shirts to style, however if you want to add a little extra elegance, consider a button down or pinned collar shirt to pair with a tie. If you don’t want to wear a tie, you should choose either a spread or mandarin style collar. 

Manderin shirt collar
button down shirt collar
pinned shirt collar

If  you want a spread collar, also consider upgrading your plastic collar stays to metal collar stays. Metal is more rigid than plastic and is heavier. This will keep your collar looking sharper and will help keep it weighted down to the shirt better.

Best Color Shirt For Headshots

The easiest shirt colors to pair with gray, charcoal and blue jackets are either white and light blue solid color shirts. Shirts with patterns should be avoided for headshots as they will draw attention down and away from your face. 

Black and dark grey shirts can look great with lighter color jackets, for influencers and other people who are their brand. That said, those working corporate jobs would probably do best stick with either white or light blue. 

Eton White Dress Shirt
Blue dress shirt

Shirt Brands to Consider and Avoid – Men’s Headshot Attire

Another thing to consider when choosing a shirt is the cloth and buttons the shirt is made from. An easy way to enhance the look of your headshot is to avoid entry level shirts you commonly find at department stores such as: 

  • Van Heusen 
  • Calvin Klein 
  • J. Ferrar 

These shirts are usually made from inferior fabrics and have plastic buttons. Furthermore, entry level shirts tend to have inferior collar construction (and overall construction in general) compared to higher end brands. For the difference of the collar alone I’d only buy entry level department store shirts if you’re limited by your budget. 

Additionally, you should avoid moisture wicking or “no iron” materials even from the premium brands as these synthetic materials won’t photograph as nicely as natural fabrics will. The one exception to this is Eton shirts which actually do a good job of this without making the cloth look “plasticy.”

The Characteristics of a Good Quality Shirt Are:

  • It has both neck and arm measurements
  • They’re made from 100% natural materials like cotton, linen etc. (no rayon, nylon, spandex etc.)
  • Mother of pearl or horn buttons (not plastic)
  • Better collar construction and additional collar and cuff options
  • Different fabric weaves for additional texture options

If you want the best shirt possible, you’ll want to have a bespoke shirt maker craft a shirt from your measurements. That said, most men in reality won’t go though the trouble of this. Therefore the next best thing is a quality off the rack brand or online made to measure company which will provide you with a much higher quality shirt then department store brands.

The following are some of my favorite shirt brands that that I’ve found that will photograph very well for your headshot:

Pro tip: If these shirts are out of your price range, you can find all of these brands in very lightly used condition on Ebay for between $20-$30. If you’re paying attention, I just showed you how to look like like James Bond for less than you’d pay at the mall for a garbage brand shirt. 

Should I Wear a Tie for My Headshot?

The question of whether or not to wear a tie depends on your intended audience. For example, I’m located on the west coast which has a strong business casual culture among tech workers. In this instance no tie is generally accepted any may actually resonate better with the culture here.

That said, managers, litigators, financial professionals and those who travel internationally (or do business on the east coast) would probably do better to wear a tie. Ultimately it’s best practice to present yourself in your headshot as you would for an interview or when meeting with customers.

men's headshot attire
men's headshot attire

Best Tie Color for Headshot

The best tie color is one that harmonizes with your shirt and jacket and should be the last piece you choose when selecting what to wear for your headshot. The tie can either compliment the jacket or harmonize with it. If you’re new to color coordinating men’s headshot attire, you can check out this post about how to color coordinate outfits

For example, a dark red tie paired with a navy suit and white shirt is a classic complimentary look that will never be out of style. For a more homogeneous look, you can pair a dark blue suit with a like color tie and simple pattern. This same idea could be done with a light grey suit or any color you choose.

Whatever color tie you decide to go with, it’s generally best practice to use the shirt to separate the jacket and tie from each other. Wearing a similar color jacket and shirt should be avoided as this is too fashion forward for a corporate headshot

If you’re unsure what color tie to choose, you can use a color wheel to help you come up with good looking complimentary color ideas like the navy jacket and red combination mentioned earlier. To do this simply choose a color that matches your suit and find combinations you like using the different color harmony rules in the left sidebar. With the jacket color suggestions mentioned earlier, red, blue, yellow and grey ties will all be the safe choices.

If you plan to wear a tie for your headshot, it’s generally best to choose one with a solid color or subtle pattern. Ties that have intense patterns tend to be too distracting and draw attention away from your face in the photo.  

Additionally,  it’s also strongly recommended that you not wear any tie made of shiny fabrics like nylon and polyester. This is because the flash your photographer will use can reflect off these materials and become distracting. Ties made of silk, cotton and wool won’t reflect like synthetic materials will and thus will photograph best. 

Like, Share & Comment!

I hope this post helped you better understand what to wear to a men’s professional headshot session! Dressing sharp is an easy way for everyone to improve their headshots and it doesn’t have to be hard!

That said, nice clothes are just one of many things you can do to enhance your headshot. My headshot session checklist has six things to consider leading up to your photoshoot. You don’t have to do everything mentioned on the list, but at least considering all of these points can make a big impact on your headshots also. 

If you have any questions about anything, please let me know in the comments!

Jason Guy

I am a portrait photographer based out of Sonoma, California. I create portraits for people of all ages with the goal of making images that are timeless. Portraits you will look back on decades from now, and still love them just as much then as you do today. While flattering lighting and pose are important, capturing how others see you is what I ultimately strive for.

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