What should you wear in your profile photo?

Mailchimp What to Wear Matthew Burch

I am by no means a trained image consultant, but over the years I have photographed so many people, I often have an idea as to what someone should and shouldn’t wear.

You’ll no doubt appreciate I’m not about to start telling stories and I do keep my own counsel but the question ‘What should I wear?’ crops up a lot.

Actually, it is an interesting question and I know how a person’s clothing can dramatically affect the way people perceive them. OK, so that is old news but many people still flounder when it comes to personal image. It is also a huge field of expertise with loads of nuances which can complement or counter all the other details.

On top of that the modern expectation has changed so much. For now, I am talking specifically about business image, not fashion and although the two entwine, for business there are some basic considerations.

These days the required suit for men and women is not necessarily required. In ‘Ye Olden Days’, for me starting work life in the mid 80’s, the suit was the uniform everyone wore in white collar roles. If you were a Consultant for example, jeans and t-shirt were never seen. Even the archetypal building surveyor wore a suit, tucking his trousers into Hunters and donning the Barbour when venturing on site.

Richard Branson was famous for eschewing the clothing establishment, at one time almost making his jumper a trademark image and being seen as a rebel for it; but with hindsight he was only a trailblazer for the dress down, anything goes normality we have today.

With so much freedom some people worry about what to wear and because they might vary their attire so much, from super smart to scruffy casual, it is all the more tricky.

So, my advice, in terms of what to wear in your profile photo, your default headshot, is to wear what you would wear when meeting a NEW client for the FIRST time.

If you generally meet people you work with, or for, regularly open necked, no jacket, jeans, casual etc BUT you always go a bit more formal with a new or potential client, that is what you do for your photo. I have said before your profile photo is your first handshake and in many ways put out there for people who don’t know you. These days it is your very first chance to make an impression.

This applies to an individual sole trader and a full workforce, an up and coming entrepreneur and an established high level executive. For some people it’s easy. If you dress the same all the time, you’re are sorted but if you vary it a lot, remember…first meeting.



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