Beauty, Glamour + Fashion

Tips and Tricks for Photo Session Wardrobe Mastery

March 5, 2024

By Jenn Stitt

Let’s cover a few wardrobe tips and tricks to master your wardrobe for photo sessions! These simple guidelines will help you nail the look of your wardrobe.

In short, we will discuss (in no particular order) bits and bobs, wallets, watches and spectacles.

© Fox & Brazen

1. Watch H-to-T

What is H-to-T? It stands for Head to Toe.

Feet, bottoms, kneecaps (and certainly fingernails) have the potential to be in final images.

Proper hygiene and wrinkle-free clothing go a long way toward making your images pop.

So, make sure your clients skip the ratty yard chores sneakers (unless they match the feel of the session, which in full realness can happen during a styled session) and wear something with a bit of pizazz.  Funky socks get an A+.

These exclusions also apply to digital watch bands and exercise meters (because, let’s be real, the ones that come with devices are kinda blah), hair ties on wrists, and those custom rubber power bracelets supporting fundraisers. If it doesn’t add to your session, then it should be left out of the session.

NOTE: This applies to our furry friends as well. Make sure their collar and leash are clean and the styling matches your clients’ outfits! It’s okay to have a “photo session” collar with no extra vaccination tags on it.

© Fox & Brazen

2. Wallet: Clean Out the Pockets

Phones, keys, wallets, reading glasses, trinkets, and whatever else your clients normally cram into their pockets will most definitely show in your photos if you do not empty their pockets prior to the session.

What else have I found in pockets over the years? Burp cloths, writing utensils, dog treats, beer caps, straws, and foreign money. Please remove this stuff from your clients’ pockets as well. We can see it lumping and bumping in the chest and groin regions.

While we do not have x-ray vision (but hey, that could be fun), having extra items in pockets changes the curves and swerves of the body and how the light cascades on the clothing drape across a body. Emptying the pockets is a key step to mastering wardrobe for photo sessions.

NOTE: What do you do with all that stuff? You can encourage your clients to bring a tote bag or oversized purse to put all those loose items in. If you’re comfortable with it, you can also put a few small items (i.e. cell phone and keys) in your camera bag for the duration of the session.

© Fox & Brazen

3. Bits & Bobs: Proper Under Garments

Outfits that fit and flatter everyone are super important to consider. Try to have everyone try their outfits on at least a week ahead of time. Getting them into their outfits will also give them a chance to make sure they are clean and pressed prior to the photography session.

The key to having an outfit fit and flatter is proper undergarments. Sometimes this means going a size up on underwear so it doesn’t pinch at the waist or hips. Lingerie straps on the shoulders or the band across the back should be not visible when fully dressed. Also, a nude fabric or color can be a safer option under white clothing than white.

In warmer seasons, gentlemen may need to wear an undershirt to help mask perspiration. Men who wear a loose-fitting-boxer type undershort, may need to consider a more aerodynamic boxer-brief cut to avoid extra bunchy fabric under pants.

NOTE: Stores that specialize in undergarments usually offer complimentary sizing and recommendations on the best items to fit and flatter. Encourage your clients to take advantage of these services. It’s their job to make us look and feel our best.

© Fox & Brazen

4. Spectacles: Attitude is Everything

Seriously, attitude is EVERYTHING. How many of us remember getting glasses (or braces) as a kid and going into your third grade classroom thinking, “Oh gosh, I’m now going to be known as four-eyes.” Whomp whomp. That’s a super defeatist attitude. Remember how sad we were until we realized that having glasses didn’t change our personality, and we could see the chalk board better?! Now, twenty years later, all the cool kids are wearing glasses on purpose to coordinate with their outfits.

Anyway, my point is that attitude is EVERYTHING during a photo session. If we flung open the classroom door twenty-something years ago, and said, “Hey, I’m here and back in style,” we would have been so much happier sooner. When a client arrives to a session standing up straight, flashing those pearly whites, and walking like they own the place, it changes everything. A simple adjustment in mindset can make or break a session. In short, yes we see attitude on camera.

Encourage your client to splurge on their hair and makeup, buy the new watch band, coordinate the outfits, wear those shoes. These photos will document who you are right now, and when your client pulls them out of the hatbox in fifty years, they’re going to want their grandkids to exclaim, “Dang Grandma, you look great!” (We will also accept, “Dang, Grandma was hot!”)

Remind your clients that these images are going to last a lifetime as artwork in their homes. Help them take the steps to look and feel the best they can. Sharing these steps to master wardrobe during their portrait session can make all the difference!

Editor’s Note: A version of this article first appeared on Fox & Brazen Photography’s blog.

Jenn Stitt has a background in film and animation that informs her cinematic, storytelling portrait style. Her WPPI Photo Walk on Wednesday, March 6 focuses on using a reflector to create dynamic lighting.