Dress Your Best for the Perfect Headshot

Dress Your Best for the Perfect Headshot

Your actor headshot is your calling card in the acting biz and it can be the single most important item in securing the choicest work in the industry.

Thus, in addition to choosing a complimentary hairstyle and appropriate make-up, what you clothes decide to wear will be crucial to creating an ideal look.

1) The best style is your style

It is tempting to be swayed by the latest fashions and the desire to be cool, but remember that the best clothing choice is what suits YOU. Fully understand the personality and the character you wish to project. Totally see how your body is really shaped and formed. Appreciate your age and the specific aura that is you and dress accordingly.

There is no sense in grabbing a shirt or selecting a jacket just because another famous actor wears it–what you wear must appear as it was made for you. Listen to what your friends and family say you look best in; they would know, they see you all the time! Oh, and stay away from loud logos that will distract from the main focus, YOU!.  Listen to your photographer–he sees hundreds of people in an endless variety of outfits and he instinctively knows a good combination. When you are dressed well and wearing the right clothes, you’ll look in the mirror and feel a comforting familiarity.  You can see a nice selection of headshots here.

2) Know your true colours

Look at your skin tone, the shape of your face and your hair style and colour: there are certain fabric shades that will match beautifully with you. Contrast is best; you don’t want to be lost in the final picture. Darker skin should be paired with slightly lighter or more neutral tones; lighter skin should be paired with a slightly bolder, darker tone.  The best actor headshots are those where you pop out of the picture so don’t let you face get lost in what you wear.

Best Headshots Richmond - Michelle Kulas - photographer Trevan Wong Buckashot Head Shot Studio
Best Headshot Photographer Burnaby - Photographer - Trevan Wong Buckashot Head Shot Photo Studio

You don’t want to force a look, clothes should naturally compliment your skin colour. Wearing a shirt colour that is similar to the colour of your eyes is often a nice touch and can add an oomph to the final headshot and will grab attention. Complimenting hair colour with a jacket colour of similar tone is also a classy move as it creates a nice framing of your face. It is best to wear clothes based on subtle decisions and think in terms of harmonizing shades and tones rather than stark colour matching.

3) It must be a good fit for you to live with it.

Don’t wear those extra tight jeans or that over sized sweater that you think you’ll grow into it: It hardly ever works out! Something about the drape of a custom-tailored jacket or pair of pants just makes everything seem right in the universe. Particularly in a photo, which can be looked at over and over again for eternity, a shirt that fits particular contours of your body is a beautiful sight to behold.

Best Headshot Photographer Langley - Photographer - Trevan Wong Buckashot Head Shot Photo Studio
Best Actor Headshots Vancouver -photographer Trevan Wong Buckashot Head Shot Photo Studio

Put yourself in the place of a casting director.  Imagine what they see.  And remember clothes that fit send out a subliminal but positive message about the actor. Fitted clothes are synonymous with success.

If you cannot avoid it, and your shirt or top is too large, make sure you pin it at the back to “custom fit” it to your contour before shooting.

That being said, there is no need to spend a fortune on made-to-measure clothes to wear, you just have to an honest assessment of your body and know your measurements very accurately. Off the rack clothing can fit wonderfully if you take the time to try them on in front of a full length mirror; shopping with a trustworthy friend who can offer an honest critique is helpful. A good fit goes a long way to convincing a casting director looking at your headshot that you are comfortable in your own skin.

4) It’s about you, not your clothes

Though we are spending an awful lot of words discussing clothes, in the end, it’s about you, your face and your character: that is what should be paramount in a good headshot. Generally, you want to stay away from shiny, flowery shirts or outfits that have prominent stripes or checks. That is not to say your clothing should be boring but the best choices tend to be nice cottons of neutral tone with an unobtrusive weave and texture. Of course, if your personality is truly wild and frenetic, you may wish to try a bolder colour or pattern but be sure it doesn’t take attention away from the face. Just as a busy backdrop can take away focus from you, flashy or busy outfits can diminish that perfect expression on your face.

5) Versatility increases appeal

Ideally, you should have three looks for a headshot session. If you’ve taken the time to select a photographer and arrange a shoot, you may as well maximize the session and have a wide array of photos taken. So bring ample clothes to wear.  Don’t be afraid of a casual T-shirt shot as one option: it is a disarming and appealingly informal look that can jump out of a page full of people in dress shirts and suits, especially if you are based in a west coast city like Vancouver.

Best Headshots Vancouver - Mac Harmon - Photographer Trevan Wong Buckashot Head Shot Photography Studio
Best Acting Headshot Photographer Vancouver - Trevan Wong Buckashot Headshot Photo Studio

Of course, another look should be the tailored shirt with a crisp collar: that is a very powerful image that can present you in a very capable, competent light. Bring a neck tie to add formality to the headshot.  A third option should be a comforting sweater or jacket: this is a particularly good fit for you if you are portraying yourself as studious and serious-minded. Having a variety of headshots in different outfits is a good investment that can present you as the right person for any given situation.

About the Author

This article was written by Trevan Wong aka “Bucky” and friends of Buck A Shot Photography Studio in Vancouver, BC Canada. Supplemental information provided by Alphonse Leong.

Trevan is regarded among the best actor headshot photographers in Vancouver.

His body of commercial work consists of over 20,000 headshot sessions, fashion shoots, and advertising and product shoots since 1980.

Trevan Wong, Vancouver headshot photography and artist

When not shooting commercially, Trevan works on photographic art and songwriting.

His art is collected worldwide and his worked has displayed at the Vancouver Art Gallery, Robson Square Media Centre, and The Nikkei National Museum & Cultural Centre.

As a songwriter, Trevan’s songs have made it on several indie artist’s CDs, on Itunes, in documentaries, and full length feature films.

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