Finding the right outfit for daily life is hard enough, but what do you wear when you know you're about have a photoshoot? Follow these tips for the perfect outfit choice!
Photos are Forever, Trends are Not
Some photos are very obviously from a bygone era at a glance because of the type of clothing worn in the photo. While other photos are surprisingly modern looking despite being quite old. So, what's the difference? Beyond the technical aspects of a photograph, the outfits worn often give away the age of a photo. (What year was this photo taken?) However if you choose a classic and "timeless" look, the photos will appear to be modern despite their actual age. Why is this important? Years from now you can look back at your photos and think either, "wow I looked good" or "wow, look at those goofy clothes".
I know those JNCO jeans were all the rage in 1998, but would you be caught dead in them now? What about bell bottoms? I know severely distressed or ripped jeans are popular now, but will they still be popular in another ten years? While I can't predict future fashion trends, I can strongly advise against wearing current fashion trends on picture day! Avoiding fashion trends, and sticking with classic, simple looks can help your photos age gracefully!
Fit is King!!!
Nothing will ever look as good as clothing that fits you well! Even the most beautiful outfit on a hanger, if it is ill fitting on you, will look bad in a photo. You would be better off to wear something simple that fits you perfectly. I personally believe this is one reason the LBD (Little Black Dress) is so popular and classic. It is a simple design, so fit is everything. The same goes for men, if you are wearing ill fitting jeans, a loose t-shirt, or jacket, it is distracting. Instead of looking at you as a package, the viewer of a photograph will start to look at your clothes and wonder if they are hand me downs from you uncle. This is why fit is FAR more important than the actual outfit choice. If possible, have your clothes tailored to fit you perfectly. Humans are not "one-size-fits-all". Simple tailoring of shirts can be done at home after a quick YouTube lesson, but if you're not that handy, find a local tailor and have your clothes fitted. You will be surprised at the difference it makes in your appearance, and how you feel, knowing that your clothes are made to fit you!
Look to Movies for Inspiration and Avoid Logos
For goodness sake, avoid logos on clothing unless you are a brand ambassador!!! Look at Hollywood for examples of this. Ever wonder what is different about the clothes people wear on tv and in the movies? Why do they look just a bit nicer than the people we see every day at the store? It's because no one wears logos and almost no one wears graphic tees. Every outfit is about layers, patterns, colors and fit, no bold logos or brands to be seen. This alone will help your photos look considerably more classy and classic.
Consider the background colors
Where is the photoshoot taking place, and what colors will be prevalent in the background? Knowing this you can choose complimentary colors for your outfit. You can choose similar colors or shades of the same colors as your background if you want to blend in with the overall scene making a very cohesive look, or you can choose contrasting colors if you really want to stand out sharply against your scene.
Layers are your friends
Jackets, scarves, throws, blankets, over-shirts, all of these things add dimension to your look. While a solid t-shirt can be effective to show off a very muscular physique, it's often not the best look for most people. Adding layers to your look gives it dimension. Another thing layers do, is afford you the opportunity to change the look quickly by either loosing an element, or swapping it out. A quick over shirt change, or draping a scarf over your shoulders instead of wrapping it around your neck can change the outfit quickly and easily, giving more diversity to the photos from a single photoshoot. Also, the weather is very changeable here in western Colorado. Layers can help you adjust to the weather on a given day so you remain comfortable during your photoshoot.
Not all undergarments are created equally, and sadly many people don't know how to size themselves accurately. The larger companies don't help either, by continuing their one size fits all mentality. Even when multiple size options are available, it's often a game of finding the best fit, not the right fit. Some undergarments have a tendency to show off, when we would prefer them not to. Some ill fitting bras from a popular brand have a tendency to create weird jutting shelves that become very visible through clothing, like in the above photo. Also consider the print and color of your undergarments. If you happen to wear bright pink underwear under light colored pants, the underwear will surely be visible in the photos. Choosing neutral or matching tones for your undergarments will help alleviate this issue.
Shoes really are the finishing element of an outfit. They can complete the look, or destroy it. But the look of the shoes isn't the only thing that needs to be considered. Will your shoes even be in the photos? Where is the photoshoot taking place? Is it in the studio, or in a park, or are you going to have to hike to the destination? Finding shoes that are the right balance between rugged and classy can be difficult. Sometimes it is better to bring a few pairs of shoes along, that way you can wear hiking shoes to get to the location and something with a bit more class while taking photos. Heels might look amazing, but they are horrible on soft ground or gravel, prepare accordingly to avoid ankle injuries. No one wants to get hurt on their photoshoot!
Accessories are great, but shouldn't outshine you
Jewelry, hats, rings, necklaces, etc, can all be a nice touch, like an extra bit of seasoning for your outfit. Accessories should not outshine you though, just like seasoning should not outshine a dish. You don't want accessories that stand out in a bold or obnoxious way. The one time this rule may change is if the photoshoot was for a jewelry brand, then you would want the jewelry to be the center of attention. However, if the photoshoot is supposed to be about you, don't use accessories that draw the eye away in a distracting manner.
When in doubt, ask your photographer!!!
It is part of a photographer's job to know what looks good. If you are having trouble deciding on a look or outfit, contact your photographer and ask them. Better yet, take a quick snap with your cell phone of the outfits in question, or of you wearing the outfits and send them to your photographer to get their advise. Your photographer should be more than happy to help you make sure you look fantastic for your photoshoot! Also, it never hurts to bring a few extra pieces of clothing along with you to a photoshoot just in case. 😉
What you wear to your photoshoot will have a tremendous effect on the finished photos, so the decision should not be taken lightly. Avoid Trends, fit your clothing properly, avoid logos, consider your background colors, layer your look, pay attention to your undergarments, shoe choice matters, be careful with accessories, and when in doubt, ask your photographer! Hopefully with these tips you are well on your way to choosing the perfect outfit for your photoshoot!
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If you have other tips on what to wear for a photoshoot please leave them below!
Links to additional information
What To Wear In Engagement Photos by Amanda Weldon https://youtu.be/o1RtYm21MKc
The Ultimate Guide To Buying Your First Suit by Real Men Real Style https://youtu.be/bEddhMSO0ps
5 Essential Photoshoot Outfits (that will ALWAYS look good) by David Suh https://youtu.be/kJFHQBkWRXg
About the Author
Hello, my name is Johnny Lee and I'm your friendly neighborhood photographer. 😉 I LOVE telling stories!!! I adore traveling, exploring, and learning new things. I hold
myself to the highest standards, and try to make people feel comfortable in their own skin. I find the beauty others don't see in themselves, and can help you share it with the world. This is your story, but I can help you tell it.
For more information on booking one of my portrait sessions check here.