everything you need to know to help you pick the perfect outfits & accessories for your senior portrait session.
Holy crap... I know it can feel kind of daunting to pick what to wear for your graduating senior photos. Don't you worry, I'm here to help! These are a few guidelines I’ve put together so you can be sure to look amazing and feel like Beyonce, while still making sure the images FEEL and LOOK like you. Remember, these are only GUIDELINES, not rules! They are just what I’ve found to work best from trial and error from past shoots. You can show up wearing a potato sack for all I care. (wait, I take that back. I WOULD care. Please don't actually wear a potato sack.)
Most of the time, you probably don't even need to go shopping for new outfits. Bring clothes you normally wear, stuff that’s already in your closet that you love and feel yourself in. An old band t-shirt and ripped jeans? Perfect. A big, knit, oversized sweater and combat boots? Awesome. That funky blazer you've been trying to pull off? Please. Or something a little dressier like a suit or long flowing skirt and a leather jacket? I'm a fan. Can't decide? Bring them both.
Not only are you going to LOOK amazing, you're gonna FEEL amazing. And your photos will be amazing as a result.
Here’s a few guidelines to help if you’re feeling lost about what to wear :
Bring multiple outfits! There's nothing that says you have to stick to just one set of clothing for your shoot, in fact, you can bring up to 3 outfits to be photographed in. Many of my seniors opt to wear a dressier outfit AND a few more casual options. If you need help narrowing your options down, feel free to bring them all with you and I'd love to help you decide. I’ll help you pick and pull from the options you bring to change into for each backdrop we shoot at. This way I can make sure the outfits compliment the environment so that the focus is on you, not on any distractions, which yes, can be your outfit. All you have to do is make sure you bring stuff that you feel like a million bucks in that we can pick from!
Don’t bring your whole closet though. It will take too much time for me to go through everything and will take time away from your session. Just a few different options and then you can bring hats, accessories, jackets and whatnot as well. Also, just know that depending on where we are shooting, you’ll most likely be changing in the back of the car on the side of the road, or in my handy-dandy pop up changing tent. If you aren’t down with that, that’s totally fine and you can just bring one outfit! Just make sure to text me a few photos of the outfit options you have and we can pick it out together beforehand.
location + comfort.
Think about the conditions and locations we are going to be shooting in and plan around it. Make sure what you are wearing makes sense for where we are. If we are going to be exploring around the forest, bring shoes that you can walk around in. If we are shooting on a sandy beach, you'll most likely want to be barefoot. Heels are almost always a bad idea in most scenarios, unless you’re freakishly good at walking in them OR you plan to change into them before shooting. If it’s freezing cold outside, bring lots of layers and boots. If it’s going to be hot, bring clothes that can breathe more so you don’t have sweaty pit stains in the photos. Be as comfortable as you can be!
color do's + don'ts.
I recommend you lean towards neutrals, earthy tones, and metallics. This doesn't mean that you're just limited to creams, browns, and grays. There are neutrals to every single color! Instead of green, go for a soft forest or sage green. Instead of red, go with a deep maroon. Instead of yellow, choose a mustard yellow.
Think about your session location. What colors can you see in the backdrop there? Wear neutral colors within those same tones. That way you'll fit perfectly with your surroundings.
If you're choosing a more urban or funky backdrop, metallics and similar street casual wear is so fun. You can typically go a little more edgy in your wardrobe choices if we aren't shooting in nature backgrounds.
pattern + textures.
Avoid big, loud, crazy patterns. The smaller and more subtle, the better! If the pattern is too loud, it will distract from your face. Flannels, plaids, and floral patterns are okay, but use them sparingly. And in very neutral tones. I usually try to avoid pairing too many patterns together because, as I'm sure you can guess, it makes the photos feel hectic and distracting.
If you've hung out with me for any length of time you will hear me say over and over how important the textures of your clothing are. If it FEELS cool and interesting to the touch, it will LOOK cool and interesting in your photo. Knit sweaters, textured tights, worn corduroy pants, velvet blazers, and leather jackets all are examples of interesting clothing textures. And I'm a fan.
Pro Tip: Anything that can show movement or catch the wind is a big fat YES. The movement of dresses, skirts, or scarves add so much fun energy to your images.
accessories + props.
Accessories are always encouraged and can be such a fun element to add. Rad hats, cool sunglasses, fun scarves, and jewelry can add more interest to your outfits. Plus, as in the case with items such as hats and sunglasses, they also give you something extra to do with your hands which is always a good thing in photos.
Gone are the days of chalkboards and other similar "props". Instead, grab your skateboard, football, flower crown, roller skates, record player, or your naked cat (*pup steals the show, fine with it*), etc. If you have a scooter or rad car or truck, you better bring that too or I'll be pissed. Props don't have to be cheesy and they can really add some cool elements to your session.
PRO TIP: As much as we all love our Apple watch (or any watch for that matter) take them off for your photographs. Also, ladies, the wrist hair-tie... for the love of all good and holy...
hair + makeup.
A lot of people ask me whether or not they should get your hair and makeup done by a pro. My answer is always “whatever will make you feel best, do that.” It’s NOT necessary whatsoever, but if you want your hair and makeup done, then definitely do it. The most important thing is that you FEEL confident and beautiful. Just make sure that you tell the hair and makeup artist to go natural and light, because we want you to still LOOK like you! Don't over do it or go too heavy on the makeup if that is not something you normally do.
If you're going to get a fresh haircut, make sure to give yourself a few days between your cut and our photoshoot. That way your hair has a little time to relax and you can get used to styling the new do. And make sure your hair is freshly washed.
And if your skin is whiter than toothpaste like me and you want a tan, be sure to get a suuuuper natural airbrushed spray tan rather than one from a salon/tanning place. We don’t want you looking like an oompa loompa!
Check out this Pinterest board for some more high school senior outfit inspiration! >>>
Whelp that's all, you rad senior, you.
That's it! Just apply the outfit guidelines from above and your senior photo outfits are going to ROCK.
If you have anymore questions, don’t hesitate to let me know! If you’re still freaking out about what to wear feel free to shoot me a pic or two of what you’re thinking and I can help you decide. But overall, just wear what you’re comfortable in and feel like you in. A pair of Vans you’ve had since 8th grade? Cool. A long maxi skirt that you love to twirl around in? Great. A sweater you wore for basically a month straight? Awesome. A hat that you know your mom hates? Perfect. You do you, and I promise the photos will turn out amazing.