In every high school senior portrait consultation I talk with my clients about what to wear to highlight their personal style. It’s very important that some planning goes into what outfits you’ll bring so that I can photograph you in the most flattering way possible. The things I discuss with you are what style of clothing you’d prefer (casual/formal), body type (so that I can suggest cuts of clothing that will work best for your body), and colors that will work best for the set and you.
There are many things you want to avoid in clothing for portraits. The obvious portrait faux pas are clothes that are too big or too small, and clothes with large logos, images or words on the front. Besides the no-brainers there are several more things to avoid that most people won’t think of. Since there is such a big difference between fashion that works well in person and what looks great in portraits, here are a few tips on what girls should wear for high school senior portraits.
1. Wear clothes that flatter your body type. Clothes, especially dresses, that have a defined waist work best for most bodies. Avoid tops that bubble out and hide your shape. Ruffled shirts are great for small chests but a no-no for large chested girls. Here’s a helpful chart that shows what styles work best for different body types.
2. I love bright colored prints but not all work well for portraits. Stick with low-contrast patterns such as tone on tone stripes, pastel floral prints, or bright prints with like colors (i.e. all warm colors like plum fushia and bright orange-red). Bold stripes like navy and white, large polka dots, or high contrast tribal prints usually aren’t ideal. There are always exceptions to this rule so run it by me if you’re not sure. A great solution to a high contrast patterned shirt is to wear it under a solid blazer or jacket.
3. Know which colors make your complexion pop or flop. I love feminine pale pinks and nude colors but, alas!, they make me look washed out every time. Choose colors that look good on you and look good together. Look at this color chart for more help.
4. Layer clothes for casual outfits, to keep it looking purposeful instead of looking too casual. If you are the laid back type and choose to wear casual clothes for the portrait session I suggest layering up a little. Adding different textures like a chunky knit sweater over a tank with jeans, or plaid shirt over a solid color tee with cut-offs can work too. Adding accessories to a casual outfit is suggested.
5. Accessories add polish to portraits. If you really want to look put together bring accessories for each outfit. Have a statement piece of jewelry like a beaded necklace, large earrings, or chunky bangle. A pair of funky sunglasses are great too to hold as a prop or wear. Scarfs for your hair or wraps around your neck are an easy way to add extra color or pattern to your portraits too. Hats are awesome with the right outfit (see my post about hats).
If you need more visuals on what works well (and what doesn’t) for portraits look at my Pinterest galleries. I am always adding recent fashion finds and hairstyles to them.
What to Wear Girls: Senior Portrait Tips