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This is one of the most common questions I receive! If you’re wondering how to plan for your senior portrait session wardrobe, you’re not alone. For my clients, the goal is always to have a fun and stress-free photo experience. In order to do this, and to get the most out of your time in front of the camera—preparation is key! Having cute style on the day-to-day is one thing, but knowing the different types of outfits to bring with you for your photo shoot is another ball game entirely.
FIRST STEP - DECIDE YOUR STYLE
The standard shoot style is classic and includes items like a cap and gown, confetti, and maybe your college sweatshirt or sports uniform. Another style option is editorial, which focuses on magazine-esque items like flower bouquets, picnic blankets and baskets, vintage bicycles, gilded hand mirrors or other “outside-the-box” items. Psst…you can do a combination of both!
Please note that props are not a “must” by any means. Some of my clients love them and go all out. Some pick one or two items to bring. Others stick with just their outfits, and that’s great, too! The most important things you need to bring to your session are positivity and laughter. I'll take care of the rest.
STEP 2 - DRESS THINGS UP!
The first piece to add to your shoot wardrobe is a dress or two. Try picking one dress to wear on its own, and then one dress to wear under your cap and gown outfit. The dress you wear with your gown should be shorter in length than the gown itself. Remember: there’s no such thing as “too dressed up” when it comes to your portrait session, so don’t be afraid to have some fun! If you don’t want to spend a ton of money adding a new permanent piece to your wardrobe, a lot of my clients love Rent the Runway for their portrait photos because you don’t have to spend a lot to feel like a million bucks. Plus, you can send the outfits back when the session is over. Some of my clients love having an excuse to go shopping and purchase a new permanent piece (or two!) for their wardrobe—and that’s okay, too!
FOR THE SENIOR GIRLS
I recommend choosing long, flowing dresses or skirts because they’re flattering on all body types, look amazing on camera and bring extra movement and dimension to your photos. Maxi (or floor length) skirts and dresses will give us the best “twirl factor,” add more romance to your walking photos and look especially gorgeous when juxtaposed with nature, like the desert, forest, fields or beach. Feel free to re-wear your prom or winter formal dress! (I mean, might as well wear that dress more than just once, right?!)
FOR THE SENIOR GUYS
There's nothing sharper and confidence-inducing than a tailored suit. Button-up shirts and dress pants tend to look most impressive on camera because they really suit the male body — which is probably why the red carpet is always full of so many guys in formal attire and not very many hoodies! I recommend bringing at least one long sleeve button-up shirt—either blue, black or white. This is a classic look that never goes out of style. Whether or not you actually want to go full out in a suit is totally up to you, but I do recommend at least one "formal" outfit (and hey - you'll even get a headshot for your LinkedIn profile while we're at it!)
THIRD - STAY TRUE TO YOU!
In addition to a fancier look, you’ll want to include something more “your style'“, like your favorite denim with a blouse or cool graphic tee. This is also a category where we see a lot of jumpsuits, rompers, and two-piece sets.
FOURTH - DON'T FORGET THE WEATHER
If it’s colder outside, I suggest bringing a warm coat (the longer, the better!) to wear when we’re not shooting. In front of the camera, cute cold-weather accessories include beanies, scarves, boots, and of course - cozy jackets and sweaters!
FIFTH - FOLLOW THE 3 T'S
When it comes to wardrobe selection for your senior photo shoot, let your guiding light be what I call the 3 T’s: including clothes that are trendy, timeless, and true to you.
For one of your outfits, choose something trendy, such as a 2-piece pantsuit with a cropped top, a romper, or fun accessories like ankle socks and scrunchies. Even bringing along a pop of color like heart-shaped sunglasses can be fun. This is your chance to take risks and be bold with your outfit expression.
This is the outfit where you would want to include neutral colors, like black, white, and shades of gray. If it’s warmer out, you can opt for a little black dress (ladies) or a black t-shirt (guys). If it’s cooler, I recommend pulling in pieces like scarves, hats, coats, and suits. This “T” is more about the color scheme and pattern of the fabric, which, in order to remain timeless must be made to accentuate you, not to stand out on its own.
TRUE TO YOU
Lastly, be sure to include an outfit that is unique to your style, hobbies, or personality. This can include school uniforms, sports uniforms, and or an item that represents where you're headed next. It’s so important to use the opportunity of being in front of a camera to capture not only your look but your personality. This is another chance to take risks, but this time it’s more so to showcase your lifestyle, not just your personal style.
A NOTE ON PLANNING YOUR TIME
When you’re planning "getting ready" time before your session (scheduling your hair, makeup, etc.) please give yourself a lot more time than you think you'll need. Make sure to account for things like traffic, getting lost and parking, so you can prevent unnecessary stress, arrive a few minutes early to your session, and be ready to start on time. Any photographer knows the importance of light, which can change by the minute! Be sure to account for this when preparing for your shoot day.
Even though it might seem like there is a lot of pressure to make this shoot perfect, there are only a certain couple of things that are in your control. The rest is in the hands of your photographer, who you will need to trust to take care of the rest! Time and time again, the best photos I have captured and created come from a subject who is confident and having fun. All you need to do is get some rest the night before, choose your outfits according to this guide, pump yourself up with your favorite music, and be ready to have some fun! Click the image below to find inspiration on Pinterest!