What to wear for portraits

When doing an engagement session, you may be tempted to wear the cute new shirt you just bought, or those amazing heels that you only bring out for special occasions. However, just because you love something doesn’t mean it is ideal for photos. Here is a general guideline of what works, and what doesn’t. Remember that any of these rules can be broken – but do so at your own risk!

Good ideas

  • Outfits in the same color family (blues, earthtones, etc) or with the same accent color
  • Solids or simple patterns
  • That sexy little black dress!
  • Fitted clothing (baggy clothes can make you look a lot larger than you are)
  • Comfortable clothes you can sit, stand, and move in
  • Nice jeans, paired with a dressy top
  • Accessories like statement necklaces, jackets, hats, scarves, sunglasses, etc.
  • Bringing one dressy outfit and one casual outfit

Bad ideas

  • Bright white shirts (ivory or cream photographs much better)
  • Wild patterns or horizontal stripes
  • Shirts with writing on them
  • Sleeveless shirts
  • Polo shirts for females (for some reason they are rarely flattering)
  • Shirts with short hemlines – the bottom edge of an untucked shirt should hit at your hips or lower
  • Watches or rings, unless they have a lot of sentimental value to you. We want to emphasize the engagement ring, and lots of other hand jewelry will take away from that. This goes for both guys and girls.
  • Super short skirts or super low necklines
  • Exact matching outfits (i.e.: jeans and white tops)

misc-44Things you might want to bring with you 

  • Flats (if you plan on wearing heels, just to walk around in while we’re not taking photos)
  • A posterboard with “Thank You” written on it for making Thank You notes
  • Numbers or a sign with your wedding date for creating Save the Dates
  • Headbands, bobby pins, or ponytail holders in case of a windy day
  • Any props you want to use – for example un umbrella, a football, cowboy boots, your pets, a picnic basket, or anything that you both enjoy doing together

Other things to know

  • Girls, be aware of your body type. Know your flaws and your assets and dress accordingly. If you’re a curvy girl, wear something properly tailored that really shows off the curves of your body. Look for shirts with long torsos that will make you look longer and leaner. Short hemlines on shirts will make you look bigger. Avoid extremely baggy clothing and super skintight clothing. If you’re a petite girl, dressing in trendy layers will give you a more sophisticated look, but don’t go for anything poofy or with big shoulders/sleeves that will overwhelm you. If you’re an athletic girl, avoid the urge to play up your killer arms or rock-hard thighs. Without sophisticated studio lighting, it can be hard to capture muscular definition in photos, and heavily-muscled arms and legs can end up looking larger than desired.
  • Guys, you look good in just about everything, you lucky dogs! Remember to match the “tone” of your partner’s outfit.  If they are dressy, you should be too! If you plan on tucking your shirt in, make sure the shirt fits you well and is not too baggy, or you might end up with an unintentional muffin-top effect.  Also make sure that your belt matches your shoes and that your socks are in good shape and the appropriate color.
  • Be aware of your location, and dress appropriately. If you’re going somewhere very edgy and urban, wear something sophisticated and dressy. If you’re going somewhere artsy and whimsical, go for trendier styles and fun layers. If you’re going somewhere outdoorsy, wear something more romantic and light. When in doubt, bring multiple outfits and I will be happy to lend a suggestion!

For more ideas, check out our engagement session portrait portfolio here!