Choosing the right outfits for photos can be tough. Even as a photographer I find myself taking lots of time to consider what I’ll wear for my own sessions! Hopefully you’re a styling pro, but if not, rest assured. Today I have a tip or two (or 18!) to help select beautiful outfits that will make anyone feel their best and look amazing. Choosing the right clothing doesn’t have to be stressful. Not sure what to wear? Check out these tips below!
Choose your color palette.
Pick a palette of 3-4 colors. This will help you start off well. Think in terms of tones: blue tones, earth tones, neutrals, pastels, etc. Everyone can express their own sense of style within the chosen color palette, and you’ll coordinate beautifully. Develop some ideas within the palette and have fun!
Don’t match. Coordinate.
I want everyone to coordinate, not match. One trick is to start with the youngest and pull colors from their outfit. Layering can make a huge difference in tying in all the colors. If you still need help, I can put together a fashion board of outfit examples and let you know where to find the items.
Choose neutral clothing.
If you have no idea what colors to wear, I suggestion wearing any combination of cream, gray and tan. These naturally compliment most anyone and every location. These can be particularly lovely in the fall when the leaves and bright or in the spring with the pop of color from flowers. The result is a monochromatic look. The soft neutrals always bring the focus back to you, the subject! This timeless look is easy to pull together.
Use muted colors.
When in doubt, keep it simple and clean. I like the focus to be on the emotion, connection, relationship, the people. Subdued colors, solids, and muted prints work well for that. Skip logos and words as they draw the eye. Brand-less is best! When picking patterns, choose smaller ones that won’t pull attention away from the main subjects, and only put one person in a pattern. When thinking about texture, choose different ones that will give photos some interest such as lace, corduroy, denim, and knits.
Choose colors from your home.
Feel like coordinating with your home? There is nothing more gorgeous and aesthetically pleasing as well coordinating photographs that match your home’s style. Is your home light, bright and airy or moody and dark? What colors do you decorate with? What style do you lean towards? Dress in a way that allows you to enhance the timeless feel.
Opt for monochromatic.
Dress monochromatic to match your location. Sounds crazy, right? But here’s a few reasons why this can make for interesting portraits. Dressing to match your location puts the focus on the face because everything else is benign, so to speak. It forces the viewer to break down the details in the photo since they’re looking at variations of a single color.
Shop at the same store.
Make coordinating outfits easy by shopping at the same store. It’s especially helpful when there are multiple children to dress. Be easy on yourself and try shopping at once place this season.
Use your go-to outfit.
I’m all about being who you truly are. I like to ask everyone to think about being the best versions of themselves during their session. For me, that doesn’t always mean going out and purchasing new outfits. Instead I suggest looking in your closet to pull out the outfit that is your very favorite. Everyone has a go-to outfit that they choose when going out with friends, the outfit that fits perfectly and makes them feel amazing. Bring this outfit along! You’ll know for certain you will have one outfit that fits perfectly and reflects who you truly are at this stage in your life.
Fit your style to your location.
Always keep your session location in mind when choosing your outfit. If your session is happening in a city setting, dress up a bit with a pair of cute heels and a fancier dress than you’d normally wear to match the bustling vibe of the city. If you’ve selected a more natural environment, choose something a bit more casual such as a relaxed dress and opt for casual footwear like flat sandals or boots.
Don’t be afraid to dress up in formal clothes, especially for an engagement session. Think James Bond style for you guys. It’s not only fun, but it’s something different than the everyday. Professional photographs can definitely be considered a special occasion!
Pick a statement piece first.
Perhaps you have a beautiful floral dress and he has a light blue or pink shirt that brings out the tones in your dress. Work around that statement piece (the dress) and everything will tie in together smoothly.
Don’t forget about the shoes.
If you’re not the type who likes being barefoot, be sure to keep your footwear in mind. Nothing will throw your look off more than a old pair of shoes or sneakers. This is especially important for engagement sessions when he might be in sneakers, but she’s in heels. When in doubt, match her style!
Highlight your best asset.
Wearing something that highlights your best asset during your session will give you a boost of confidence throughout the shoot that will definitely show in your final images.
Keep comfort first.
I love to photograph lots of movement and playful behavior. Wearing a short skirt and high heels can make dancing or walking a little difficult, so keep that in mind if you’d like movement in your photographs. What you want to remember in 10 or 20 years isn’t how talented you were at styling but how happy you all were together. Pick the clothes that will let you feel beautiful and blissfully carefree!
Keep clothing simple.
What do you want to speak in your images? Simplicity? Bright? Calm tones? Your smile and enjoyment is first and foremost in your portraits, but clothes can make or break an image. Choosing outfits in simple, muted or natural colors can help the subject pop.
For ladies, having a twirly dress can help make you feel more relaxed and the movement looks great in photos! I love the outdoors and I feel it’s important to chose clothing that is simple. Something not taking away from the environment and beautiful surroundings. For guys to stand out from the background I look for colors and textures that are going to complement our location. Perhaps it’s a pop of muted yellow to match the sunset or blue to match their eyes.
Keep patterns and plaids to a minimum. Consider playing with textures instead. We want your family to be the star! The clothing should coordinate, not take over.
Use complementary colors.
I personally gravitate towards rich, earthy colors complementing the natural elements around us. I often choose pieces that are timeless. Consider Modcloth, Zara, Free People, Gap, H&M, consignment shops (gotta love vintage!), and of course handmade items from family and local shops. When choosing complementary colors, consider the colors in your location, too. If you know there is going to be a lot of green foliage around you consider pink or red for your subject’s clothing. Choosing to dress your subject in complementary colors is a great way to not only make your images visually pleasing but separate your subject from the background.
Let hair move.
I am a big fan of leaving longer hair down to showcase movement. Perfectly kept hair will not always happen. Many famous people pay for expensive wind machines, but we’ve usually get it super naturally and free of charge. Be ready to roll with it!