My Best Advice on What to Wear for Portraits

Hooray! You’ve decided you want portraits of you and your love, and the time has come to figure out your attire. Before you get too far into Pinterest and Google, let’s start with this important disclaimer:

I’m a firm believer that you should wear whatever outfit represents your style and that you feel comfortable in. Period. I am here to photograph you as you are in this phase of your life. 

With that being said, I’ve also been the person that isn’t sure how to choose an outfit, and being told to simply follow my heart can be extremely frustrating.

If you’re not sure where to start, let’s simplify the process and figure out a balance of what makes you joyful and will also have you looking FIRE on camera. Here are some of my best guidelines and tips:

 

 

Couple session at a parking garage rooftop in downtown Los Angeles.

 

1. Coordinate instead of match.

You will get more variety and a more natural feel in your photos if you aren’t wearing the exact same outfits. (Unless your dog is coming to the session and you have matching human/dog outfits together, in which case you can stop reading now).

Instead, stick with complimentary colors or even colors from the same family. Mix it up by using different layers, textures, patterns, and pops of color.

Tip: Start with one outfit, and coordinate other looks based off of its color palette. This is a much easier starting point to work with before diving into multiple closets at once.

Couple wearing mixed patterns at their couples session in the woods.
What works: A fun floral pattern paired with a subtle dotted print – the perfect mix of prints. I love that the pale blue is also found in the floral print.

What works:   A variation on the classic monochromatic look, made a little spicy with some vertical stripes.
What works: A variation on the classic monochromatic look, made a little spicy with some vertical stripes.

2. Keep it simple.

In general, simple works best. Don’t feel pressured to dress up if you don’t want to. Choose something that makes you feel good when wearing it. Clothes that fit well go a long way to making you relaxed so you can focus more on being in the moment rather than adjusting hemlines, straps, or wrinkles. (Being comfortable also applies to your kiddos!) I incorporate a lot of movement in sessions, so remember that you will still want to be able to let loose and cut up a little!

Tip: Large bold prints and larger logos can take away from the focus on you if they aren’t meaningful or carefully chosen. Neon colors and very tiny stripes also don’t always translate well on camera. Solid pieces mixed with more timeless prints are often good starting points.

What works:    Mixing in different textures (knit, cotton, velvet) with basic patterns and using pops of colors from the same family (reds, maroons, pink).

What works: Mixing in different textures (knit, cotton, velvet) with basic patterns and using pops of colors from the same family (reds, maroons, pink).

3. Let the location guide your colors.

Where are we going to be, and what are we doing? Choose outfits that match this vibe and the warm or cool tones already found there. Try to imagine the whole scene and what it will look like, and be sure it’s practical (i.e. footwear, seasons/weather).

Tip: For almost any location – a combination of neutrals (black, gray, tan, brown, cream, navy, denim) is almost always a safe bet.

Couple kissing in front of palms while wearing brown and black leather jacketsWoman in black shirt and man in navy dotted button down.

A note on color: If you don’t already know, I love color. If you want to go all in with it, narrow in on 2-3 colors to tie in the whole look.

For example, this might look like one person’s outfit tying in the color palette for the family, like Pani’s vibrant floral shirt with pops of orange and lavender at her family’s outdoor spring garden session.

Child in vibrant floral print with mom in bright orange and dad in lavender button down

Or, start with neutrals and add in a pop of color, like this yellow sweater. This look also comes together with the same shade in different pieces, like Chris’s cardigan and Larson’s knee-high socks.

Family with child in gray, black, and yellow coordinated outfits.
4. Finish strong with details.

Details like jackets, sweaters, jewelry, shoes, hats, etc. can add that extra oomph and pull a look together. (On wedding days, you’ll almost always see me wear all black, but I like to add some celebration with a big pair of earrings).

Tip: If you wear makeup, there is a little more leeway on camera, so feel free to bump up your normal routine by a half step or two, and if you’re wondering – yes, lashes look dope.

Hopefully this gives you a baseline to get started. If you are looking for more outfit inspiration: Here is the link to my Pinterest board with more ideas.

 

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