what to wear for portraits – kansas city family photographer

What to wear for portraits!  When doing an engagement, family, or individual portrait, 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!

First Rule of Dressing  for your Portrait Session: Coordination

Simple color coordination goes a long way to help your portrait session look cohesive and really pop. When determining what to wear for portraits, decide on a color family – jewel tones, pastels, browns and natural colors, etc, and fit everyone into that theme.

what to wear for portraits kansas city engagement family photographer

>>>>Here’s a link to some photo inspiration to give you some ideas about how coordinating comes together.<<<<

It’s also important to think about formality of the clothing and try to coordinate that to a certain degree as well. Often, dressy casual looks really nice. For example, dressy jeans, khakis, simple skirts, khaki shorts for ladies, (sorry men, no shorts – nice khaki shorts are ok for little boys though) and a nice top (no t-shirts), will be comfortable but look nice too. Once you decide how formal / informal you want to be, make sure everyone fits into that look.

When in doubt, bring a few extra pieces of clothing to full sessions, we can lay them out quickly and do a fast change if necessary. Accessories or layered pieces can also be a really great way to change the look of the photos without doing a whole wardrobe change.

The Ladies: Girls, know your assets (and your flaws) and dress accordingly so that you love your photos!

Curvy! – If you’re a curvy girl, wear something tailored for you, that really shows off those curves! 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 skin-tight clothing.

Petite – If you’re petite, dressing in trendy layers will help avoid the “little girl” look, but don’t go for anything poofy or with big shoulders/sleeves or it might end up swallowing you in the images.

Athletic – If you’re an athletic girl, avoid the urge to play up your killer arms or rock-hard thighs. Unfortunately, without sophisticated studio lighting, it can be hard to capture muscular definition in photos, and heavily-muscled arms and legs can end up looking more like fat.

Gentlemen: you look good in just about everything (so not fair)! Remember to match the “tone” of your lady’s outfit. If she is 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 accidentally end up with a look that you don’t like.

Think about location: 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 natural like a park, wear something more romantic and light. When in doubt, bring multiple outfits to full engagement sessions and I will be happy to lend a suggestion!

Good ideas:

Stick to a color family! (earth tones, pastels, blues, etc.) or with the same accent color
Solids or simple patterns
That hot little black dress!
Fitted clothing  (big, baggy shirts can make you look larger than you are)
Comfortable clothes you can sit, stand, run, and jump around in
Nice jeans, paired with a dressy top
Accessories like funky necklaces, jackets, hats, scarves, sunglasses, etc.
Bringing one very dressy outfit and one very casual outfit for full portrait sessions

Bad ideas:
White shirts
Wild patterns or horizontal stripes (unless that’s totally you)
Shirts with writing on them
Sleeveless / Tanktops – bare arms attract attention in photos.
Polo shirts on girls – very few girls can pull this off well. If you really want to wear a polo, make sure it is fitted for a woman’s body, and not cut straight on the sides.
Shirts with short hemlines – the bottom edge of the shirt should hit at your hips or lower
Short skirts, low necklines, anything even remotely risqué, save those for the boudoir session
Exact matching outfits – it might seem cute now to both wear the exact same outfit, but in a few years, you will laugh at yourself for being so cheesy!

Things you might want to bring with you for an outdoor session / engagement session:
Flip flops (if you plan on wearing heels, just to walk around in while we’re not taking photos)
A posterboard with “Thank You,” your name(s), or your wedding date written on it
Change of clothes in case one gets dirty or wet or you just want to change things up (for full engagement sessions)
Hairband, clips, ponytail holder, etc. in case of a windy day
Any props you want to use.. A cowboy boots, dogs (for full engagement sessions), vintage luggage, balloons, cotton candy…anything that you both enjoy together