branding photos for san diego marketing professional, oceanside photographer Marcy Browe

3 misconceptions about dressing for branding photos

When I am in the planning phase for my client’s personal branding photoshoots, the #1 question I get asked is “what should I wear?”

And while the answer to that question is very specific to the person I’m working with, I often encounter these 3 popular misconceptions when talking to clients about wardrobe for their branding photoshoot:

1) I have to wear a suit to look professional

NO! Just … no.

This is what I like to call an “east coast mentality”. I lived in Boston for 11 years and this is the way I used to think about professional wardrobe too: a nice suit and maybe some pearls will make me look like a professional.

Let me be clear: there ARE certain professions where a suit is a must. But even if you fall into one of those professions, there is a broad spectrum of what is considered professional.

For men, jeans or slacks paired with a button-down shirt with a blazer can be the perfect wardrobe. For more on this, I made a video detailing how to nail this look

For women, we have more latitude with what is considered professional wardrobe. For some women, a well-made, fitted dress can be the perfect professional outfit. For other women, jeans with a nice blouse is the perfect choice.

Bottom line, unless you’re a trial attorney or a financial CEO, you can skip the suit.

Instead, focus on showing up in a relatable, polished way and this will translate beautifully in your photos.

how to dress for branding photos - personal branding photographer
how to dress for branding photos - personal branding photographer

2. Patterns don’t look good in photos

I object!

I hear this often from clients … someone told them not to wear patterns for photos. And while there are some patterns which are terrible in photos, I usually am delighted when my photo subjects show up with patterns.

There are a few “rules of thumb” to keep in mind when selecting clothing with patterns:

1) My wardrobe stylist friend described it this way: if you’re small/petite wear smaller patterns, if you’re fuller/curvier, then you can wear bigger patterns.

2) Don’t choose a pattern that is too busy and overwhelming, we want to notice YOU first and not your clothing.

3) Your clothing should support your brand. So, if your brand is loud and bold and bright, that’s the perfect time to rock some fierce patterns.

4) If you’re going to be on video AVOID small, tiny patterns (such as super-small stripes or checks) because that creates a visual effect called moire. This is where the pattern looks like it’s “crawling” with zig-zagging lines.

how to dress for branding photos - personal branding photographer

3. I have to buy a new wardrobe of clothing 


You probably have exactly what you need in your closet (or in a friend’s closet) 

Sometimes it takes a trained eye to help you determine what will look good on camera, but you don’t need to invest in a whole new wardrobe to have a successful personal branding photoshoot. 

Often, when I refer clients to a wardrobe stylist, they’re happy when they learn about the “shop your closet” option. This is when the stylists takes a look in your existing closet and pulls outfits based on what you already own. 

You might want to purchase a few new staple pieces or one statement item to complete your on-camera wardrobe, but it doesn’t have to be a huge financial investment.

Another tip I give my clients is to borrow from a friend or family member. This was how I got through high school! When I would sleep over at my friend’s house, we would borrow clothes from each other. I would wear a friend’s cute top for photo day or borrow my sister’s trendy dress for a school dance, but then return it when I was done. Tap into your inner teenager and peek into your friend’s closet for some photoshoot wardrobe items. 

If you do purchase new clothes for your photoshoot, and you’re not quite sure if you’re going to wear it, keep the tags on. If you decide not to wear it or if it just doesn’t look right in photos you can easily return it. 

Wardrobe rental sites like Rent The Runway are great options for getting high-end pieces without breaking the bank. And this is a sustainable option because by renting and returning, you’re essentially sharing a wardrobe with other women.

I hope that by de-bunking these three misconceptions I help you realize that a personal branding photoshoot is all about highlighting what feels right for YOU. You don’t have to dress like someone else’s version of professional. Your custom photoshoot is your chance to put yourself out there exactly the way you want your ideal clients to see you.

If you’re thinking about personal branding photos to promote your business or identity, please reach out to me to talk about ideas! I’d love to work with you. 

About Marcy

Hello, I'm Marcy Browe! I specialize in personal branding photos for business owners in Southern California. I'd love to know more about you.. let's connect and create some magic together!


  1. Robyn Carlson on July 18, 2020 at 5:08 am

    Thank you Marcy for these three important myth busters!

    • Marcy on July 23, 2020 at 7:06 pm

      thanks for reading Robyn!

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