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Executive Headshots: What Clothing Should I Wear?

A question that comes up all too often before taking executive headshots is, “Well, what should I wear?”

It is an understandable question! While there is not necessarily a correct option, there are some things to keep in mind when choosing an outfit. Clothing can communicate a lot about a person, and it is a focal point in these headshots. That’s why it’s important to carefully think about what it is you want to accomplish with your headshot.

Are you an entry-level professional trying to make a mark? Or are you an established professional that wants to communicate trust and authority? The colors you choose for your wardrobe, as well as the styling solutions, are all essential components for communicating this.

Keep it simple

I recommend taking a peek at the Executive Headshot portfolio for some initial styling ideas. In my experience, I have found that across gender, classic suits tend to do well. I generally recommend that clients stay away from loud, busy patterns, and choose a more subtle pattern or none at all. Loud patterns take attention away from your face, and I want this headshot to be focused on establishing your professional reputation, rather than distracting the eyes of the viewer.

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General Outfit Advice

With subtle or no patterns at all, you ensure the viewer is focusing on you. When people view an image, their eyes tend to go to the lightest part of the image, and ideally, that should be your face.

Keep in mind that short sleeves and sleeveless blouses can draw attention away from the face and eyes. If you have certain poses in mind (i.e. arms folded), then consider how different sleeve lengths will look with each pose to get a better idea of the final product.

Also, consider the neckline and how that will come across in your executive headshots. Too low and it can look somewhat inappropriate for a professional setting (especially when the photo is cropped), so keep that in mind as you decide on outfits.


It might be tempting to pick a bright color, but it is all about balance. Rather than picking bright tones for your clothing, think about ways to bring those shades in as accessories, such as ties or smaller-sized jewelry. Bringing these colors in as an accent allows for a more fun side to pop up in an otherwise business shot, and can help break the monotony a little. You could even wear a bright-colored shirt under a dark jacket for a fun pop of color.

Skin tone and color options are other important factors to consider. For fairer skin, I recommended lighter colors such as blues or grays. Jewel tones, such as crimson, burgundy, and navy blue are complementary across different skin tones and could serve well as base colors.

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Here are my quick tips for outfit success:

  • Medium to dark solid clothing.
  • Avoid patterns.
  • A clean shave for men in the morning.
  • Avoid white shirts, unless wearing a darker-colored jacket over them.
  • Avoid short sleeves or no sleeves.
  • Stay with classic, simple jewelry.
  • Avoid tops with low necklines.

Overall, my biggest piece of advice has always rested on the same concept: if in doubt, ask your photographer! I have created thousands of executive headshots, and I know what works best…so why not use my experience to your advantage?

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Donis Perkins