You've got your photo session scheduled and you've picked a location and what you'll be doing. Great! Now you have to decide what to wear... I often get questions from clients as they prepare for their photos about what they should wear to their session. And I can't tell you exactly what to wear, but I do have some tips to make it easier to pick out your photo session outfit or outfits.
1. Be Comfy! Pick something comfortable and representative of you! If you're wearing something itchy or too snug or too loose or complicated you won't be comfortable throughout the session and it will immediately show! You'll look back at your photos and know that they don't look like you or that you look like you just want to be out of there. You want your choice of clothing to show who you are, even if you're dressed up, pick something representative of your typical style.
2. Pick Colors You Love! Choose a color palette that suits you and that you would like hanging in your home. Accent colors in your home are probably some of your favorites, so they'll show off your personality and will make it that much easier to coordinate hanging your photos later.
When choosing your colors pick colors that flatter your skin tone. Generally just avoid overly bright colors such as bright red and bright green because they will reflect on your face and cast the color on your skin. Neutral tones, pastels and rich colors generally work better than very bright colors.
If you're alone make sure the colors coordinate throughout your outfit by choosing only 1 or 2 main colors. If you're with a group, don't go too matchy. Everyone does not need to be in the same outfit, though they should coordinate. Pick 2-3 colors and make sure those colors appear as a theme throughout everyone's outfits. That should be enough to make everyone seem a part of a cohesive group, without making everyone look like they are trying overly hard to look identical.
3. Be stylish, but timeless! When choosing your outfit avoid trendy patterns and accessories as they are likely to date your outfit and your photos very quickly. Instead go for a look with classic patterns or solids. And don't be afraid of accessories, just pick styles that have been around for a while, rather than ones that are quick to come and quick to leave.
Bolder patterns and accessories should be chosen carefully to accent you, the focus of the picture, and not steal attention. Avoid over-the-top patterns and logos since they will be the focus on the image almost immediately.
4. Be Versatile! Consider bringing a few accessories or wear layers you can take off and put on easily. This will allow you to get more outfits out of one session without having to completely change! You'd be surprised how different an outfit can look with an added sweater and scarf or by throwing a button-up or jacket on and off.
If you do want to change your entire outfit during an outdoor shoot, consider wearing layers underneath to make it easier to change anywhere. A tank top can make it simple to change out blouses and some bicycle shorts can make changing pants and skirts a breeze.
5. Check the Weather! No matter how comfy and stylish your outfits are, if they are super light and summery and it's 40 degrees outside you will be miserable! So remember to check the forecast and think about the time of year you've scheduled your photos. For colder weather plan on wearing warm layers, scarves and fun gloves or hats to keep you toasty while you pose for your photos.
If you expect rain, plan ahead with some rain boots and some cute umbrellas and do a rainy photo session. It can be fun, unique and show off the type of weather your region gets.
If you expect lots of wind, pull your hair back and wear clothing that will move in flattering ways when it gets windy.
If you expect it to be really warm and sunny, plan for a session early in the morning or later in the day and wear light, breathable clothing to keep yourself cool.
6. Don't Forget the Shoes and Socks! Unless you absolutely don't want ANY full body photos, plan your socks and shoes to coordinate with your outfits. Mismatched shoes or socks can throw off your whole look and a pair that's well thought out can even be the focus of your photo.
7. Remember the Occasion! Are these photos for a really special occasion or time in your life? Maybe dress them up a bit. If they are for a casual family photo, go a bit less dressy. If you need professional head shots, plan to dress like you would to an interview. Greeting cards should have more wintery clothing and photos on the beach can be barefoot. Really you can go as casual or dressy as you like as long as it fits with your goal for your photos!
Consider your location when choosing your outfits, but don't feel locked down by it. Rustic photos can be very pretty with semi-formal clothing and cowboy boots can work great in more urban photo setting. The idea is to think about your location, pair your outfit to coordinate with it, and make it intentional.
8. Think about the Details! It's important to plan out the accessories, like jewelry, watches, hats or bags as well as make-up and hair ahead of time. Make sure your accessories all match the style of your shoot. Don't go with very formal pearls with a t-shirt and jeans. Pick out something that you would love to wear all the time, even if you don't always have the opportunity, that matches with the feel of the rest of your outfit.
Likewise plan to do your make-up and hair in styles that you would typically wear with the outfit you've chosen. You can go a bit more styled than normal, but aim for looks and styles that feel natural to you.
Remember the idea is to show off the best possible YOU, so you want to make sure that you look like yourself.
9. Staying Power! This goes hand in hand with comfort, but needs to be addressed on its own. Plan your outfits so they last through the whole session. If the shoes slip off your toddler every 2 minutes or you put your little explorer in all white, you'll likely have problems very early on in a session. Consider straps on women's and girls clothing, comfortable buttons on men's clothing and colors that won't immediately get dirty as you progress through your day. Accidents happen, and that's not a big deal, but plan ahead and try to avoid difficult outfits. You don't want more headache for yourself!
10. Pick an Outfit You LOVE on Yourself! Above all else make sure that when you look in the mirror you love the outfit you chose on yourself. It can hide little imperfections you worry about, or accentuate your favorite attributes. It can make you feel confident and ready to go. Remember that you'll have to look at yourself in that outfit in these photos, so choose something that makes you happy to see yourself in!
- If you're getting your hair cut or colored make sure to do it at least a week before your session so it has time to settle and you won't be surprised by what it looks like.
- If you want to buy a brand new outfit for your photo session make sure it fits properly after washing and try on the entire outfit together a few days before your session.
- Layers and accessories can add texture to your photos and give your outfit and extra pop!
- Consider the movement of your clothing if you enjoy photos with a lot of motion or if you want your outfit to really stay put.
- For more ideas on outfit planning, please check out my Pinterest outfit board.
- Ask your photographer! If you're working with me I'd love to help you with your outfit ideas. We'll work together to make sure you feel great about what you plan to wear!