Since wardrobe can positively or negatively affect the outcome of your portrait session and how happy you are with your final images, it is important to carefully plan what you will wear.
Plan as Far Ahead as Possible
I suggest beginning to plan your wardrobe as soon after confirming the booking of your portrait session as possible. I encourage you to not take the risk of finding out that certain clothes don’t fit or aren’t clean the day before, or day of, the portrait session.
Use Your Home Decor as a Starting Point When Considering Colour Schemes for 2 Reasons
A helpful starting point to choose your colour scheme can be to look around your home to see how you have decorated it. Do you like bright, neutral or dark colours? This can also be beneficial since your portrait will likely be hanging in your home.
Take Your Background into Consideration
It is important to consider how your wardrobe will look in front of the background you or I choose. For example, browns, oranges and yellows aren’t good for outdoor fall portraits. I can suggest potential appropriate colours for different seasons.
Consider the Purpose for, and Type of, Portrait
Will your portrait be formal or casual?
Types of Clothing
Ensure that you are comfortable in the wardrobe that you chose for your portrait since that portrait may potential last a few hours. Clothing should not too tight or loose.
Shirts: Overall, formal is often better than casual. Collared and button-down dress shirts usually work well and it is wise to try to avoid t-shirts and golf shirts if possible. Mock necks and V-necks are okay but collars are preferred for both genders. Bare shoulders, exposed arms and plunging necklines will distract from your face and compromise the potential of your portrait.
Shoes and Socks: Dark and plain shoes are best. It’s wise to avoid trendy and/or bright coloured shoes (especially running shoes) since they will be distracting and will date your portrait.
Accessories and Jewellery: It’s important to assess whether each piece or jewellery or accessory will enhance your portrait or be distracting. Conservative and classic choices (such as pearls and diamond studs) will help your portrait to be more timeless. Wedding rings are also okay. Large, bright, flashy, colourful and trendy items should be avoided.
Hair and Makeup: These should also be simple, conservative and clean. Makeup should be neutral and applied conservatively. Any haircuts should occur at least one week or more in advance of your portrait session.
Glasses: Some people who may looks visibly different without their eyeglasses often chose to wear them whereas people with strong prescriptions may not wear their glasses since their face may be distorted through the eyeglass lenses. The possible reflection of light in the lenses is another consideration.
Keep the Focus on the Face
Wearing long pants and long sleeves can help a viewer to focus on your face since a person’s eye is naturally drawn to exposed skin. Along these lines, it is important to choose a colour that complements your skin tone. Too much contrast between wardrobe (i.e. dark) and skin tone (i.e. fair) is not good either. Pants or skirts should be darker than the shirt or blouse so that a person’s eye is drawn towards the face.
Keep It Timeless, Classic and Simple
Choosing simple and classic wardrobe will help your portrait to be more timeless. Avoiding trendy apparel which enable you to enjoy your portrait much farther into the future.
Overall, solid, plain, dark, cool or warm, pastels and earth tones often work well. Certain colours may work well in certain contexts (i.e. outdoor fall portraits).
Shop at Stores that Usually Have Colour Coordinating Collections
Some stores have colour coordinating collections and shopping primarily at one of them can be wise.
Coordinate the colours of your clothing but don’t match
Select a couple colours from from your colour scheme and pick clothes accordingly. However, it’s important to be coordinated with others in your portrait without everybody matching. An example of an appropriate and effective balance is everybody wearing jeans with (different coloured) solid shirts from the same colour family. Keeping things simple and plain will make it easier for each person in a family or group portrait to be coordinated, even if some compromise is needed.
Consider Accessories – Which Can Be Useful and Fun
Accessories can not only add to, and complement, your outfit, but they can used as fun props during the portrait session.
Beware of Patterns and Characters – Embrace Textures
While it may work to include patterns in your portrait, as a general rule it is often wise to avoid patterns since they may be distracting. If you want to include a pattern, it will be most helpful if you and I can discuss this possibility as early after confirming the booking as possible.
Graphics, logos, pictures or writing on shirts, such as a sport team or movie character, can be very distracting.
Lines, dots and shiny fabric can also be distracting.
While patterns and graphics may be distracting, textures can positively contribute to your wardrobe and the portrait overall. This can include the fabric of a shirt or inclusion of certain accessories.
Also Beware of All Black or All White Clothing
An all black or all white shirt or outfit can result in loss of detail due to the colour being ‘blown out’ or ‘clipped’. This is very difficult, or impossible, to correct during the editing (post-production) process.