What should you wear for professional headshots in 2022? We recently got this request from Reader G, who wondered what to wear for headshots at her law school:
Could you please make a post about what to wear for headshots/portraits? I have my first photo session as a law student coming up on February 19th and have no idea what the dos and don’ts are.
What a great question! We’ve talked about corporate headshots, how to work with a hair and makeup team for headshots at work, and glasses and the corporate headshot, but we haven’t discussed this topic in a while.
Here are some quick tips from me, but I’d love to hear what the readers advise: what to wear for headshots?
What to Wear for Headshots
Consider the impression you want to make. For example, this is probably not the time to try to “look intelligent” or “look sophisticated” — put your best wannabe model advice aside for the moment. I’ve always recommended for law firm headshots that people try to look “friendly and easygoing” (since it’s already presumed you’re smart and qualified) on the theory that people generally enjoy working with friendly and easygoing people.
Because Reader G is a law student, though, the advice changes a bit. If you want to eventually work in BigLaw or another Very Conservative Field, I would try to look open to being Very Conservative. So, for example, remove facial piercings, have hair that looks clean and intentional, and maybe have a nod to something conservative — a turtleneck, a crisp blouse with a collar, maybe even a jacket or sweater with a lapel. (For a look that’s Very, Very Conservative, maybe the old standard of a pearl necklace.)
Which brings me to my next point:
Consider what will be showing in the frame. Your shoes aren’t going to show, for example. I’m always struck by how classic crisp white blouses look — even if they’re a PITA to wear in the real world (too tough to keep white and crisp, gaping buttons, etc.), they look great for a static photo. The white reflects light onto your face, and they look fabulous on almost everyone. Consider how a collarless blazer or a cardigan will look in a picture vs. a more structured blazer.
For my own $.02, I still would not go with a sleeveless look (especially if bra straps are showing) or a shirt that is so low-cut that the actual shirt may be outside of the frame… but that’s me!
Tips on Makeup for Headshots
In terms of makeup, I think my old advice of looking “alive and awake” still stands. For me, this means doing my blush, contours, and eyebrows (I look like the walking dead without them), under-eye concealer, eyeliner, and mascara (to look more awake). My eye makeup would be in shades of taupe, brown, and black, and my lip color would be one of my 10,000 shades of mauve/rosy brown — instead of my occasional shades of bright red or taupe.
In general, I’d stick with less trendy options for makeup for headshots — for example, keep the teal eyeliner and dark blue lipstick at home for the day. It’s OK to go with a bold lip, but stick to a more traditional color like red. (I’d LOVE to hear readers’ suggestions on faux eyelashes or no — I’ve never worn them on a regular basis, nor have I known anyone who wears them on a regular basis, but this may be a generational thing.)
When to Show Personality in a Headshot
This depends hugely on what you want to convey. It’s OK to look totally boring in a headshot; it’s probably not good if your headshot sticks out in this instance.
If you have a piece of jewelry that you feel strongly represents you, such as hoop earrings or a pearl necklace, go for it. Same for hairstyles — if you wear your hair in different ways depending on the day, and you feel like one look represents you the most, then go for it.
In 2022, I think almost anything will fly — but I would worry about
- looking intentionally rebellious — I’m seeing visions of a goth with spiky hair for some reason, or
- looking comically out of touch — channeling Legally Blonde is OK, but you don’t want to look like you thought you were showing up for Bachelorette auditions and stumbled into Law School Photo Day instead.
Readers, I’d love to hear your thoughts — especially if you hire law students. Have you seen some headshots that gave you pause? What is your best advice for what to wear for a headshot?
Psst: Hunting for a great crisp white blouse to wear for your headshot? These are our latest favorites…
Pictured above, the best women’s collared blouses as of 2023: one / two* / three* / four / five (* = available in plus sizes; see more in our roundup of the best plus-size workwear blouses — also check out our DIY options for gaping blouses)
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Further reading on headshots:
- Seven Attorney Headshot Tips [Headshots-Inc.com]
- Professional headshots… ladies, help me [r/LawSchool]
- 8 Attorney Headshots Every Lawyer Should Follow [National Law Review]
- related: Black Women-Led Leaders Pushing to Get the CROWN Act Passed Nationwide [Black Enterprise] (CROWN = “Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair”)
Stock photo via Deposit Photos / odua.