What Are the Best Clothing Choices for Actors Headshots?

Here’s what to wear when getting actors headshots.


Charles Tumiotto Jackson

2 years ago | 6 min read

As an actor living and working in New York City, you already know the competition is fierce. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are thousands of registered actors in New York City. And, that number is growing every day.

Besides your talent and drive, how can you stand out from this enormous talent pool and book the acting jobs you desire? Having quality actors headshots can help.

But, what you wear to your photo session is equally important. Consider your headshots like a time-stamp. Your look and style must be chosen wisely and help convey your acting aspirations and potential.

Read on to learn what to wear (and what to avoid) to your next headshot photo session. These tips can help protect your photography investment and get you the gig!

Dress the Part

When choosing your clothing or look for a headshot photography session, you may reach for flattering pieces. Or, you may have go-to style staples you love. While feeling confident and comfortable in your clothing choice is key, this should not be the only consideration.

Actors should align clothing choices with the parts or roles they would like to book. Think of your headshot photography session like a job interview.

If you were interviewing for a cool start-up company, would you show up in a suit or fancy dress? No way! Your clothing needs to match your persona or the future type of acting jobs you want to book.

Embrace the Non-Traditional Way

Open to dressing the part? Work with a photographer who can create organic-looking headshots. Hangout Headshots offers actors non-traditional headshots who want something creative.

If you’re looking for cookie-cutter or overly polished headshots, Hangout Headshots is not the right fit. But, if you crave authentic and unique-looking photos, this studio can help elevate your portfolio.

Basic Recommendations

They’re called “closet basics” for a reason. For actors headshots, basic recommendations like t-shirts or other foundational styles always work.

For example, a v-neck shirt is always flattering. It also helps to create an effortless and approachable look on camera.

Accessible and Practical

Basic styles can be blank canvases. Depending on the acting jobs you are looking for, a more basic look can help you potentially fit into a number of personas or roles.

Consider the practical benefits. In the case of a coffee spill on the subway, a backup t-shirt can go a long way in your next photography session!

Avoid Patterns and Logos

Patterns can be appealing and eye-catching, but they can also be distracting. You want potential agents to see beyond the floral or zig-zag!

Now, not all patterns are the enemy. If you must choose a pattern, try to wear a subdued version. Patterns with pale color backgrounds or smaller designs are best.

And, logos are rarely suggested. Your headshot needs to showcase you and your look. It is not an advertising platform for a brand.

Necklines with Interest

Necklines are a great way to showcase your personal style. You may love a one-shoulder top or tailored collar shirt. These styles can work.

Choosing the right neckline can add interest and a sense of movement or texture to your photos. Just remember that necklines can be an extreme representation of current fashion trends. So, you may need to update your photos accordingly.

Throw on a Jacket

Think you have to avoid jackets or layering? Think again! Jackets can be a sophisticated or fun way to add interest to your headshots.

For example, if you want to book country-inspired gigs, a denim jacket can help give off a cool, comfortable, and relaxed vibe. Alternatively, a suit jacket could work if you are auditioning for more corporate-looking or executive roles.

Just remember, the same rules apply as above. Try to choose simple jacket styles and avoid excessive patterns or logos.

You’ll Need to Move

If you choose to wear a jacket to your headshot session, consider the element of movement.

Can you move, lift or cross your arms easily? Can you zip or button the jacket? Will you be able to layer t-shirts or sweaters underneath?

These are some other jacket considerations to think about. Of all the clothing choices, jacket fit is most important.

Down Below

You may think your clothing choice only matters from the waist up. But, your pants, dress, or skirt choice can actually affect your fit and confidence.

For example, a dress with a belt or top tucked into pants can shift. Therefore, the fit and overall look will be different in each photo taken.

Don’t waste precious studio time tucking in your shirt over and over. Chose bottoms that are comfortable and accommodating.

Belt or Sash Backup

While belts or waistlines will be out of the frame, bringing a belt (or sash) to your photo session can be a handy trick. For example, if you want to create the appearance of a tighter top, a belt can help to fasten the fabric around your waist.

Belts can also help your top stay tucked in and in place. This will help you feel more confident and not worry about fussing with your clothing during your session.

Choose Color

Do you love to live in color? Embrace that style preference. Bold and bright colors are ideal for actors headshots.

But, the right hue depends on your skin tone. There is only so much that editing can do. Choosing the right color for your skin tone can help you appear vibrant in photos and avoid a tired or washed-out look.

A Hue to Match or Standout

If you have light-colored eyes, you may already know the old trick of matching jewel tones. For example, a sapphire blue or emerald green top can play up your colorful eyes. Choosing color can also help actors stand out.

While basic style recommendations are necessary for your photography portfolio, a bright or interesting color can grab an agent’s attention. If you’ve ever been told “blue is your color,” take advantage and play it up.

Don’t Forget Accessories

Now that you have a sense of what clothing to wear (or avoid) to your next photography session, what about accessories? Accessories may be the last thing you put on, but they should not be overlooked. Accessories have the power to add value to your look or totally distract.

For example, you may love wearing your Apple watch or large gold hoop earrings. But, these pieces can clutter your headshot and draw the eye away from your face. Avoid headshot distractions and follow these accessory tips.


If jewelry is a non-negotiable for you, choose pieces that are simple, timeless, and not distracting. A colorful chunky necklace may seem attractive but it ends up taking the entirety of the frame. Instead, a small glittering stud earring or dainty gold necklace can add just the right touch of glamour and interest without being overbearing.

Maybe you have a family heirloom necklace that brings you good luck. Or, do you have a favorite ring you never take off? First, it is important to wear jewelry that is easily removable.

Photographer’s Insight

Feeling overwhelmed by choosing the perfect look for your headshot session? Don’t stress!

Prior to your session, a photographer can help you decide on your clothing options through email. You don’t have to make this tough choice alone. A photographer can guide your choices and help make the best decision for you.

During your photo session, the photographer may request to remove a certain piece if it is catching the light or distracting from your photo. Photographers can give you key insights to make your look your best. For example, you don’t want to waste precious studio time trying to unhook a necklace!

The Right Look Can Elevate Actors Headshots

Actors headshots are not just about studio time or getting the right shot. It’s important you do the proper clothing planning and preparation beforehand. Some key takeaways are to remember basic styles are your foundation!

A basic or simple style can set the stage for your fundamental headshots. Avoid excessive patterns or logos, embrace color, and carefully consider your accessories. These tips can help you choose clothing that is not only flattering but will photograph well.

Book Your Headshots NYC at Hangout Headshots!

Your headshots are an investment, so it is crucial that you choose the right clothing to create the most value and help you stand out from the crowds. Hangout Headshots understands this value proposition and can help create the perfect headshot you need to book your next acting job.

Hangout headshots hate rushing clients. So, don’t worry about changing looks or taking your time to get the right pose. The studio’s customer testimonials prove Hangout Headshot’s value.


Created by

Charles Tumiotto Jackson

Content Marketer, willing to put the “social” back in Social Media. Forget about “Hacks” and obscure secrets to grow on social media →







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