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Women’s Headshot Outfit Guide

Choosing a women’s headshot outfit can feel daunting if you don’t update your profile photo regularly. Fortunately it’s not that hard so long as you keep a few points in mind. 

When choosing your headshot attire, there’s basically 3 things you need to ask yourself. Once you know the answers to these three things, choosing what to wear becomes a lot easier! The three things you need to know are:

  1. The purpose for your headshot
  2. The background of your portrait
  3. Your skin tone

Once again, none of this is complicated so long as you understand the the basics of how to color coordinate outfits for photos. I suggest you check out that post first if you’re unsure how to pair colors. Once you understand how colors play off of each other, this post will help you narrow down specific outfit options for your headshot. 

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Examples of Where To Buy Women’s Headshot Outfits

The following are some good places to check out if you need a flattering women’s headshot outfit in preparation for your session. I included a short style description for each retailer so you can easily find looks you want for your intended headshot.

  • Rent the Runway – Great place for women to affordably rent designer clothes.
  • Lucky Brand– My current favorite retailer for casual tops.
  • Ann Taylor – Good business casual tops for women.
  • H&M – Casual, affordable tops. Interesting finds here and there if you’re willing to look.
  • American Eagle – Nice casual top options for younger women.

The Purpose – Women’s Headshot Outfit Guide

women's headshot outfit

The first thing you’ll want to consider when choosing women’s headshot outfits is how you intend to leverage your photo. Obviously, some women will need dressier outfits while others will want a more casual look. This greatly depends on your audience and the kinds of people you’re going to interact with daily.


women's headshot outfit

No matter your circumstance, the idea behind a headshot is the same. Your profile photo will act as your avatar so that people can better relate to you in print and online. Headshots also help people know what to expect when they meet with you in person. 

For example, if you’re a small business owner, you’re going to want to dress like you would for a meeting with a customer. If this answer still feels vague, I suggest you dress as well as the nicest dressed person you’re likely to meet with. 

Alternatively, if you work for a company, dressing like you would for an interview or your annual review is a good place to start. An even better idea is to dress for the position you want within your company.

In any case, remember that your headshot will be framed and cropped as a bust. This means that the shoulders and neckline of your outfit will be visible but everything else won’t be. Thus unless you want additional full or half length portraits, you’re only going to need to bring tops to your headshot session.

The Background – Women’s Headshot Outfit Guide

Once you know the style of the outfits you’re looking for, it’s then important to hone in on the colors you should consider wearing. To determine this, you should first start with the background. Since the background will take as much space as you will in the photo, this makes it one of the biggest influencers of what color tops will look best for your headshot. 

To harmonize with your background you’ll want to wear outfits that fall within the same color category as the backdrop. Adding a pop of color should be done judiciously so as not to over power the photo. Using an 80/20 ratio is a good place to start for adding tasteful pops of color to your outfit that won’t feel overbearing.

The Three Main Color Pallets are:

  1. Earth Tones – Colors you’d find in nature.
  2. Neutrals – Whites, pastels, greys and even dark charcoals. 
  3. Black – Black is it’s own category.
women's headshot outfit
Earth tone background with neutral shirt pop

Earth Tone Background

If you plan to have your headshot captured outdoors, your background will likely be of the earth tone variety. The exception to this is if you headshot is captured in an urban setting that has lots of concrete or other neutral color substrate. 

Earth tones can be classified as the muddy earth tones most people think about, but can also include vibrant colors like you’d see with flowers. I recommend you use Adobe color to find outfits that will compliment the color of your background. Alternatively, if you want to pop off of the background, choose either neutral or black outfits.

women's headshot outfit
neutral background with neutral shirt

Neutral Background 

Neutral backgrounds can be white, light grey, charcoal and can even include desaturated earth tones. Typically neutral backgrounds are captured on seamless papers, however some urban areas with lots of concrete can also be considered neutral.

To play neutral colors off of each other, you can pair dark grey shirts or sport coats with light neutral backgrounds and vice versa. Pastel and desaturated colors also work really well for white backgrounds without over powering them.

To pop different color pallets off neutral backgrounds, you can add a sprinkle of black or earth tones under a sport coat. Another great way to pop alternative color pallets is to do so using necklaces and or ear rings.

women's headshot outfit
Black background with earth tone shirt

Black Background

Since black is it’s own category, a black outfit seems like the logical choice if you want  to harmonize with this color background. Although black on black can look great when captured by a skilled photographer, it’s usually better to achieve this kind of harmony by popping dark neutral colors instead.

In general, earth tones do really well to compliment black backgrounds especially when you pair them with your eye or lip color. 

If you want to harmonize with these kind of backgrounds, I suggest dark earth tones or neutral colors so you don’t get lost in the background. Ironically black pops work really well on black backgrounds especially when paired with predominantly neutral or earth tone outfits.

Skin Tone – Women’s Headshot Outfit Guide

Deturmining your skin tone choose better outfits for female headshots

To choose the best color outfit for your headshot, its also important to identify the underlying tone of your skin. This is important because cool skin tones will look better in cool colors, while the opposite will be true for warm skin tones.

The best way to determine weather you have warm or cool skin tone is to look at your veins in bright sunlight. People with warm skin tones will have veins that appear greenish in the sun. Those with cool skin tones will have veins that appear blue. 

This means that when picking an outfit color, you’ll want to choose warmer or cooler versions that best match your underlying tone. You may have figured this out intuitively with the jewelry you choose to wear. Naturally women with warmer tones will look better in gold, while women with cooler tones will look better wearing silver.

Outfit Contrast

In addition to color tone, outfit contrast should not be more that of your natural contrast. Put another way, the difference between the lightest part of your body and the darkest (usually skin and hair), is the same contrast range you should use to contain your outfit.

As an example, a white women with blond hair will have a low contrast range as will a black woman with black hair. Conversely a white woman with black hair or a black woman with platinum hair will have high contrast ranges to work with. 

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I hope this post helped you better understand how to build a flattering woman’s headshot outfit. If you have any questions about anything, please let me know in the comments! Otherwise I hope in information here helps you get the best headshot possible from your upcoming session!

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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