What to Wear for Your Senior Portrait Session

 
What to Wear for Your Senior Portraits: A Guide

I don’t know about you, but picking out the perfect outfit to wear for a special occasion stresses the heck out of me! I’m totally fine picking out an outfit to wear to class, chapter meetings, or church, but choosing something to wear to a friend’s wedding or to formal is a whole other thing. And if you’re anything like me, picking out my outfits for my senior pictures was one of those stressful moments.

Quick story time: When I was a high school senior, I had my outfits picked out for my photo session for weeks. I pulled out some of my favorite, fun pieces and couldn’t wait for my photos! But then, the night before my session, I panicked and decided to change every. single. outfit. The outfits I had initially picked out suddenly seemed too trendy, and I was scared that I would regret wearing them within a couple of months. Rather than trust my gut on those initial outfit choices, I replaced everything with the most conservative, preppy items I owned. There’s nothing wrong with preppy, but I basically looked like my mom.

Four years later, and I only like one of the outfits I wore to my session. Isn’t it funny that I changed all my outfits in the first place because I was worried about precisely that?! What’s even worse is that I can remember a lot of the outfits I had initially picked out, and ohhhhh boy do I wish I would’ve gone with those 😂

Here are just a few tips of mine for avoiding the outfit-regrets down the road and choosing ensembles that will be flattering, fun, and photogenic!

1. Embrace texture.

Pretty much anything that has some dimension to it will look good on the camera. You can accomplish this by wearing a textured fabric like leather or a knitted sweater, or something with some embellishment like a ruffle or embroidery. I’m alllll about simplicity when it comes to clothing, but sometimes you need a little something-something to make an outfit pop on camera.

Layering is another great way to add some texture and dimension to an otherwise boring outfit. Consider adding a sweater, some fun necklaces, or an ascot to spice things up a bit!

2. Avoid small or busy patterns.

This one is especially important if you’re thinking about wearing stripes! As someone who absolutely adores stripes (seriously, you do not want to know how many striped shirts I own), this is something that can be a little bit tricky. Patterns and stripes that are too small or too skinny have a tendency to skew on camera. I’m not really sure why (I’m guessing it has something to do with the lens?), but it just doesn’t look good. Stick with larger patterns or thicker stripes for your photos!

3. Don’t dress like your mom.

Unless, of course, your mom has killer style and looks like she just walked out of a Madewell catalog. This point goes back to my story about my own senior session where I thought the best option was to dress in the most conservative and preppy way possible, because I thought that preppy ≠ trendy and therefore wouldn’t look bad within a couple of years. And maybe that’s true, but I just didn’t feel like myself.

Ultimately, these are your senior pictures and a way for you to remember this special time in your life. I don’t necessarily think every outfit you wear should be the trendiest thing possible (i.e. flared jeans… yeah, they’re back in style right now, but we all know they won’t be here for long), but don’t be afraid to have some fun with your outfits and show your personality! You’ll feel more like yourself which in turn will make your entire session more enjoyable.  

4. Make sure you can move in it.

Y’all, this is so important for so many reasons. First of all, we will be moving around A LOT during your session. Between walking around each of our locations to moving during the actual photos, you need to be able to move around comfortably. Whenever I choose locations for my sessions, I select places that have a lot of different options within walking distance so we can get the most out of our session time. Then, during the photos themselves, I love incorporating movement into my poses to keep them from looking so stiff and, well, posed.

Secondly, please, please, please make sure your clothes are long enough! I totally get that sometimes a dress or skirt doesn’t look too short, but when you try to sit down or even walk in it, you risk flashing everyone in sight! Save the mini skirt for another time—make sure you can sit, twirl, and move around without revealing anything you don’t want to reveal! Otherwise, you’re kinda limiting your posing options, and I promise that neither you nor the photographer wants that.

5. Remember that you are the subject.

This may be an unpopular opinion, but I think neutrals, muted colors, or nearly-neutrals (not sure if that’s a real term or not?) are the best outfit colors for portraits. If you’re wearing a neon pink shirt, I’m not going to be looking at you…I’ll be looking at your bright-colored shirt. If you’re wearing a white shirt with some subtle embroidery or details? I’ll see your face first, then take in the rest of the photograph.

Personally, loud patterns or super bright colors, combined with whatever location you’re at, distract from you. And you are the star of the whole photo shoot!

Just because I enjoy making these little color example images, here are some of my favorite neutrals, muted colors, and nearly-neutrals:

nearly neutral color palette

Recommended Shopping

Getting your senior pictures taken is a special occasion, so treat yourself to a new outfit now that you know what you’re looking for! Here are some of my favorite places to shop for unique pieces that will make this whole planning process just a little bit easier!

(This isn’t an ad, and I’m not getting paid to share any of these shops with you!)

1. Roots Boutique: Maybe I’m a little biased since I photograph their clothes for their social media, but I think that also makes me more qualified to recommend them for your photo session outfits! I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve be on a shoot for Roots and decided I needed to buy whatever outfit we were photographing 😂 If you’re not in Waco, you can call the store and they can ship the clothes to you (but be on the lookout for an easier ordering process soon 😉)

2. Madewell: A little pricey, but totally worth it. Madewell is both trendy and classic all at the same time, making it a perfect place to shop for your outfits.

3. Roolee: A super cute online boutique with really unique pieces!

4. Clad & Cloth: One of my favorite online boutiques! Everything is super modest and absolutely adorable!

5. ModCloth: ModCloth is kind of hit or miss in my opinion. They have some really unique, quirky clothes that would work so well for a photo session. Think Jessica Day from New Girl!

8. Anthropologie: Obviously Anthro made the list… who doesn’t love Anthro???

9. Poshmark: THE BEST THING EVER! If you’re like me and you’re ballin’ on a budget, Poshmark is a great place to find designer clothes for way cheap. You can find stuff from pretty much any designer/brand/boutique you can think of on there for significantly less than what you would pay if you bought it brand new. Heck, you can even buy something directly from my closet if you want 😉

Need more ideas? Check out my Pinterest board for inspiration for girls, guys, and couples!

 

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