The best clothing to wear for a headshot shoot will depend on whether this is a business headshot or an actor headshot. We will cover both.
For both actor and business headshots, solid colors are best. It’s generally best to avoid black or white as each color is at an extreme on the amount of light they reflect and will not allow your skin tones to appear as well as they should.
In terms of color, most photographers miss the most important point. You want colors that look good on you. Many say to wear colors that bring out the color of your eyes. This isn’t completely true. The colors you wear have a definite impact on your skin tones. Some make you look more radiant and alive, some make you look washed out… even sick.
The colors that look best on you will be unique from person to person. Stand in front of a mirror where you have good natural light. Hold up different shirts in front of you while looking in the mirror and see how each color affects your skin tones. Obviously select the colors that look best on you.
In the headshot in this post of the anchorwoman of a television show, her choice of the blue sweater perfectly compliments and draws out the reds in her hair and skin. The pink background (which was added in during post production) enhances her skin tones even further presenting a look of radiant beauty.
Avoid patterns, stripes and prints. Solid colors are best. Your headshot is about showing you. You don’t want the clothes you are wearing competing for the attention. As to whether you should choose pastels or deeper colors, I refer you back to the mirror test above. Go with the one that looks best on you.
It’s also a good idea to have a few different shirts to choose from and your photographer can help you select the best one. You may also do a headshot shoot with more than one “look” and change tops during the shoot.
For corporate headshot, the choice of clothing should be professional and typical of what you would wear when working with clients. This is one exception where a white shirt could be worn, if it is coupled with a suit and tie (also do the mirror test with your suit jacket and tie colors). Long sleeved button up shirts are the best choice. Ties and suit jackets depend on whether that is how you would present yourself to your clients.
Women should also dress professionally. Clothing should be more modest, i.e. no real low cut blouses. It’s better if the shoulders and arms are covered rather than something with thin straps. Don’t overdo it with jewelry. Again, dress how you would when working with your clients.
For actor and actress headshots it isn’t necessary to have as much of a professional appearance but you want to stick with more classic styles and avoid trendy or loud clothes unless that is a part of your brand. Think in terms of what you would wear to an audition.