What to Wear Guide - Senior Edition

I have a lot of helpful wardrobe hints in my session welcome guides - how many outfits to bring, what to think about when planning for your session, and more - but here's the thing about your senior photo shoot: it's about YOU!  Everyone has his or her own sense of style.  And I can't tell you what yours is.  I can tell you what photographs well, and I can tell you what I like, but in the end, I am happiest when you wear what you love and feel great in.

So in this article I'm not going to outline many "rules" for what to wear.  I AM going to show lots of examples of things I liked, for inspiration.

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General advice for senior photos

1) What to bring:

I always recommend 3 to 5 outfits for your senior photo shoot, in varying states of dressiness.  You are welcome to bring more than you'll need and ask me for help in narrowing it down - I love to coordinate outfits with our backgrounds using color theory and considering the style of the clothing and our location.  Also, bring the right footwear and accessories, and a hairbrush and other hair styling tools you might need.

2) Thoughts about fit: 

You should feel great in the clothes you wear for your senior photo shoot. If you are itchy, or your dress is too short or your jeans too tight, you won't look relaxed or happy in your images. If you are a casual person, and plan to do some moving and sitting on the ground or floor, then a short, tight-fitting skirt might not be a good idea. Ditto skinny jeans that restrict movement.

As far as sizing and fit, I always tell my clients to choose clothing that is close to the body - don't wear something loose, boxy or baggy.  If your clothes are big, YOU will look big. The most flattering clothing is that which skims the body and flatters your shape. Skin tight, no - but well-fitting - YES!

3) Thoughts about color: 

My style is simple and clean with rich color, so most of my clients choose outfits that go along with that aesthetic in one way or another. I would not call my style fashion-forward or fashion-dependent! In my opinion your senior pictures are images of you - not of your clothes. But all the same, what you  wear is important to the overall look of your photos, and can be an opportunity to express yourself.

Firstly, avoid neon colors - they oversaturate in digital photography and also, they create color casts (reflections) onto skin. They are just too much. I love rich, deep colors, though - try those instead of the fluorescents, if you love color.


Secondly, I like when people opt for cream instead of white - a solid white shirt or dress is difficult to work with in digital photography, and it also tends to wash you out. White is fine as an accent piece, but too much is... well, too much! Cream is a lovely neutral alternative that always looks nice in almost any setting.


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For the rest of this article I'm just going to show you things I liked, in no particular order.

Starting with:

These cool, flowy boho dresses with or without a sweater or vest:


Speaking of sweaters, this duster:


And this matching sweater vest and top, accessorized with the cutest turtle necklace:


This bow tie with a sweater:


This dinner jacket:


And this black-on-black suit:


Also this suit:


This colorful, beautifully tailored jacket:

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This simple, vintage dress from a consignment store, worn with bare feet:


This adorable, perfectly-fitting peach dress:


This poncho and boots:


These formal gowns out in nature:

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These hats:



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This NASA t-shirt:

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This layered look with a fringed scarf:


This sleeveless mock-turtleneck that fits perfectly:


This leather jacket:

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This black tutu with combat boots:


These socks with J.S. Bach on them:


This shirt with fishing lures all over it:


This flowy dancer dress in the most lovely shade of blue:


This pretty top with cardigan:


This pretty floral dress:

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These simple but classy fitted tops and pencil skirts:


This whole urban winter look:


And this t-shirt, skirt and boots:


This black flannel shirt buttoned up all the way:

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This great-fitting blue shirt:

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These nice sweaters:

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These heirloom vintage dresses:

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These vintage wide-leg pants found in a VERY stylish grandmother's closet:


These outfits use the color wheel to coordinate what the subjects are wearing with the location: here we see complimentary colors (colors that are opposite to each other on the color wheel), like purple/yellow, blue/orange or red/green:


Another way to use the color wheel is to work with an analogous color scheme - which just means using colors that are adjacent to each other on the color wheel.  Like shades of blues and greens:


Still another way to approach  color is with a monochromatic color scheme - colors that are all close in tone.  Like all neutrals or all naturals.

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And finally, I loved how this senior girl coordinated all her outfits with each other.  That way, her whole session was cohesive and her photos looked wonderful displayed together.  I think that's such a great idea!

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