There are a lot of ways that we form first impressions of others. The strength of a handshake communicates power. A warm smile tells us that someone is most likely friendly and easy to work with. The pleasantness of someone’s voice sends signals about their personality and disposition.

But, there are some things that help us form first impressions before we even meet someone face to face. In the world of business, your professional portraits tell your employers, coworkers, and clients that you are professional, effective, and worthy of their attention, respect, and business.

One of the most important aspects of a quality professional portrait is how you choose to dress. For this reason, what to wear is among the most common questions those getting ready to invest in their professional images have.

Below are nine of our favorite tips on how to dress the part for your session. We’ve also included three bonus tips on how to ensure you glow on the day of the shoot.


Clothing Tips

  1. Lean towards conservative dress. Unfortunately, that little black dress that fits *just right* isn’t what you’re going to want to wear for your portrait. We’re not saying you have to go full on Amish, but dressing in clothes that are a little more on the conservative side will help you appear more professional.

    White and black stripped material
  2. Avoid patterns. Patterns come in and out of style so quickly that wearing them can result in your pictures quickly becoming dated. Furthermore, bold and intricate patterns alike can be very distracting. They divert attention away from your face, which should be the main focus of your portraits.

    Man in a plain black shirt

  3. Opt for solid colors. Solid colors are more timeless and less distracting than patterned clothing. Avoid colors that resemble skin tones – yellows, pastels, creams, and light pinks – because they can make you appear washed out. Choosing a color that complements your eye color is a surefire way to find a shade that is flattering. If you’re still having trouble, blues, greens, and purples are nearly universally flattering.

  4. If you have light skin, avoid wearing white. When set against your face, very light shades such as white can make you appear more pale.

    Woman in a plain black dress

  5. Only wear clothes that you are comfortable in and that you love. If you are uncomfortable, or if you are having second thoughts about that shirt that deviates from your normal style, it will be evident in your pictures. During your session, you want to feel relaxed and at ease. Wearing something that you know you’ll feel great in can be a big help in achieving this.
  6. Keep your jewelry simple. Just like patterns, jewelry can come in and out of style very quickly. Wearing jewelry that is simple will keep your photos from looking dated. Furthermore, avoiding heavy and “statement-making” pieces will help keep the focus on you rather than on your accessories.

    A laundry iron on white clothing

  7. Press your clothes before you wear them to your shoot. If you think that wrinkles are an eyesore in real life, wait until you see how noticeable they are in images. You want your style to look clean, professional, and put together. While wrinkles and unwanted creases can be edited out during the retouching phase, running an iron over your shirt beforehand can save your photographer a headache and you some cash.

  8. Find the neckline that is most flattering on you. Because they are so close to your throat and chin, different necklines can change the way that your face looks in images. Before your session, experiment with different necklines to see which one works the best for you. Stuck? A modest v-neck is nearly universally flattering.

Bonus Tips

A raspberry in water

  1. Drink a lot of water in the days leading up to your session. Not only will this increase your energy, but it will make your skin look healthier and your eyes appear brighter.
  2. Get lots of rest. The week before your session is not a week that you’re going to want to pull any all-nighters. Ensuring that you are well rested will help you feel relaxed and confident at your session. It will also help banish any dark-circles you may have.

    An empty wine glass

  3. Avoid alcohol before your session. Life is unfair, and because of that, alcohol consumption can give your skin a dull look. To keep your face looking bright and fresh, consider skipping the wine in the days leading up to your session.