My clients often ask me what to wear for their engagement portraits. Good question! After all, it’s not like posing for engagement portraits is something you do every day! Also, we live in such a casual world, I think some folks just aren’t all that dialed in to clothes in general, especially coordinating outfits for two people for the camera. What looks good in pictures? Since the question comes up fairly frequently, I decided to do some mock engagement portraits in Colorado Springs, here and there around town, featuring both what to wear and what not to wear. My friends Stephanie and Luke (who are actually already married) gamely volunteered not just to pose for these portraits, but also to let me go “shopping” in their closet to pick out the wardrobe. Though they both have great taste, neither of them claims to be a slave to high fashion, and they didn’t go shopping for this photo shoot. Instead, I chose from clothes that they already own and wear. I put together three “don’t” outfits and three “do” outfits, and even though bad weather chased us all over Colorado Springs, I think we got some nice “engagement portraits” to demonstrate what to wear.
Obviously, Luke’s outfit here is a great big “don’t” — it looks like he’s dressed to mow the lawn! But what’s so wrong with Stephanie’s outfit? It’s actually cute, but not the right choice for portraits because her blouse too, well, blousy. It doesn’t define her shape, and because of that it adds ten pounds. As a rule, for portraits you should stay away from clothing that has any kind of writing on it, like Luke’s shirt, anything that’s pastel or white, like Stephanie’s blouse, and definitely avoid anything that’s voluminous.
These outfits are much better! As you can see, Stephanie is much more slender than what her roomy blouse in the first picture implies. Both of them are dressed in darker colors from head to toe (an excellent hack to make you look taller and slimmer), and Stephanie’s fitted black lace top has a nice texture without being distracting. The addition of a simple necklace dresses it up. Good looking couple!
Stephanie’s wearing a cute maxi dress, but the pattern on it is huge and distracting. So is that big stripe across Luke’s chest. His trousers are baggy and a bit wrinkled, and his shoes are too dressy for the rest of his outfit (the brown color also jars). Even though they’re somewhat color coordinated, Stephanie and Luke are clashing like crazy here.
Look at them now! Stephanie’s maxi dress is strong on texture rather than pattern, and Luke’s pale yellow shirt is a great foil for her choice of deep blue. They look fantastic!
This is Stephanie’s favorite shirt on Luke, and he definitely looks handsome in it. But it’s a bad choice for portraits because the large, contrasty check is just too distracting. Of course the small pattern on her dress doesn’t help, either, and the horizontal nature of it tends to make her look wider than she really is. Also, her bra straps are visible through the sheer fabric over her shoulders. This dress is fun and flirty in person, but a bad choice for portraits.
Wow! Pairing a solid, bright color on Stephanie with neutral grey and black on Luke makes all the difference! Her simple cocktail dress is sexy and trendy, set off by some cute heels and a slim belt. Hot couple!
I hope that helped inspire you on what to wear for engagement portraits! To recap:
- Steer clear of blousy, shapeless clothes. Garments that hug the figure are much more flattering in pictures.
- Stay away from logos and text.
- Patterns both large and small are generally a bad choice.
- Very contrasty outfits can be distracting. Stick to medium-to-darker colors. Avoid pastels.
- In pictures, solid colors look much better than patterns. Texture (such as lace) adds interest without being distracting.
- Jewelry dresses things up!
- Pair bright colors with neutrals.
- Ladies, even though it’s uncomfortable, I can’t say enough for good foundation garments such as Spanx. It makes an amazing difference! Also, make sure your bra fits properly. Go to a reputable department store (I usually go to Dillards) and get fitted. It’s worth the time and effort. You’ll see.
- And finally, dress up a little! These are your engagement portraits and you’ll be looking at them for a long time to come. Choose a selection of outfits from casual to dressy. You’ll be surprised at how great you look!
And now, since they’re such a cute couple, here are a few more portraits of my hot models, Stephanie and Luke. Enjoy!