This is where you as your engagement photographer I come to the rescue. As the de facto stylist and trusted source for “how not to look embarrassing,” I can offer you some guidance on dressing for our big photo day. These tips are designed to help me create timeless, memorable images that you will love for years to come. I hope to empower you to make colorful, creative wardrobe choices that will help bring your photos to life.
Coordinate, don’t copy
Identical matching styles are rarely fashionable or flattering, and there’s no reason your fiancé must match perfectly. One way to keep you two looking unified is through coordinating colors.
What you do is pick two to three colors that are flattering for everyone, and work those colors into each outfit in varying degrees.
Try one of these gorgeous color combinations:
One app I absolutely love for picking coordinating colors is Coolors. You can start with a random color palette or even upload an inspiration photo!
Check out the app here (just tap the spacebar when it opens to see it do it's magic!)
Try on some texture
Add interest, personality, and lift to your engagement photos with texture. Whether it's a nubby sweater, a tweedy scarf, or a fur vest, varying textures adds dimension and visual interest.
Use texture in unexpected ways. A tulle skirt, a gleaming metallic shoe, or a denim jacket paired with a lace top or dress will add an element of surprise to the images.
You can also mix patterns to create texture. The most foolproof way to do this is to contrast pattern size (i.e., a small pattern with an oversized one) while keeping the colors similar. If you choose to work with a stripe or a plaid, it's most effective when used in small doses. Avoid both wavy designs and really tiny prints.
Another way is to add texture through color. Pile on the rich jewel-tones for a glamorous look, working these colors in small ways into both of your looks. Or use varying shades of a particular hue to create a soft but interesting color palette.
Aim for classic but current
Ditch the extremely date-able trends and stick to classic shapes like sheaths, straight-leg pants, and button-front shirts. Keep in mind that timeless doesn’t need to be dreary.
If your style tends to be trendy, classic shapes can make the color or pattern of the season more palatable in years to come.
Also, you can pull timeless pieces from your existing wardrobe and update them with current accessories. Details such as color and texture are additional ways to make these items your own.
Show off your shoes
Nothing ruins a great shot like a beat-up pair of shoes so I ask you to please leave the Crocs and cross trainers at home. Instead, you should don your best footwear for the occasion, or else ditch them altogether in favor of (well-groomed!) bare feet.
Every woman knows that shoes complete an outfit, and this is the time to pick a really fabulous, wildly impractical pair that will elevate the whole look. For guys, you know those nice shoes you break out of the closet three times a year? Yeah, now is the time.
If you do decide to go shoeless, make sure your feet are well-groomed, and stay away from anklets or toe rings. Polish is nice, but choose a muted tone or, none at all if you prefer a more casual look.
Heels help and are always a flattering pick for women by enhancing posture, creating a longer line, and generally making a more flattering silhouette than a flat shoe. That being said, the shoes should match the look and setting. For example, hiking boots are okay on a mountain trail and flip-flops are fine on the beach.
Trends can be everything from multiple statement necklaces, armfuls of bangles, and multiple layered colors, but ten years from now, these details will date your photo.
Instead, pick a couple of gorgeous pieces you love and limit it to that. For everyone in the photo, one or two carefully selected embellishments make a stronger impact than piles of careless ones.
A statement accessory is called that for a reason. One is best, and two is pushing it. The eye needs the statement pieces to add interest, but it also needs a place to rest. If the accessories are sentimental or meaningful in some way, even better!
For example, if oversized earrings suit your style, go for it, but then scale back her other accessories. Make sure they are visible with your hairstyle yet not too distracting.
Women can express themselves in many ways through accessories. A favorite way to add interest is through a gorgeous cuff in a strong color or a gleaming metal.
Avoid common makeup mishaps
One of the most dreaded makeup blunders in photography is when the flash bounces off your foundation causing your face to appear to be a completely different color than the rest. One of the main culprits of this is a foundation with sunscreen or SPF.
The rest of the makeup should be slightly bolder than your everyday look. Most importantly, make sure there is a definition on the eyes because we want those peepers to light up every photo.
Stay away from harsh, garish colors and overly trendy makeup looks. Berries, reds, corals, plums, and pinks are your best picks for lips and cheeks. Nudes, browns, bronzes, and greys look amazing with any eye color or outfit.
Avoid HD powders and brightening powders. These will cause bright flash-back effects on your skin when a camera flash is used and is not flattering one bit.
All of our Dream Shoot Engagement Sessions include professional hair and makeup, so don't stress! But it is a good idea to think about what looks you are comfortable with before the day-of.
Groom the guys
Some men are reluctant to switch up their style for engagement photos, so it’s important to make sure that he feels like himself no matter what he’s wearing.
That said, the details for him matter as much as they do for the woman, especially because there are fewer of them. Make sure his shirt and pants are clean and well-pressed — no dingy whites. Shoes should be dirtless and shined.
Fit is important too. Baggy or clothes that are too tight are not flattering on anyone in photos. Don't wait until the morning of the session to see if his shirt still fits. And if you must buy something, be sure to try it on first.
Socks should match the pants, not the shoes. Nothing like a white athletic sock peeking out from a pair of khakis to throw off a whole session!
If he’s game, add interest with details like a cool knit cap, a great watch, or a scarf as long as these items don’t make him unrecognizable.
Also, basic grooming goes a long way! Trim any facial hair the night before and touch up the morning of the session. Remember the neck and stray hairs along the cheek line. You may want to consider a trip to the barber a day or two before the session to get your hair and/or beard perfected.
Keep hair dressed up but natural
The ideal way for you to wear your hair is in the very best version of your natural, everyday look.
Treat hair accessories as you do any other accessory, and keep balance in mind. A standout hair accessory, whether it's a wide colored band or a large flower hair clip, means keeping other accessories to a minimum.
Limit the look to one statement accessories (anything bold, oversized, or colorful), and keep the rest of the adornments simple.
Think of a theme
If it suits your style and your vision, choose a subtle theme to incorporate into your photo session. The theme can stem from a location, a particular interest, or even from the clothing itself.
I often find myself inspired by nature for everything from a color palette to textures to themes.
Layered whites: clothing in shades of white with fur accents
Casual: jeans and white t-shirts
Fall: tweeds, corduroys, and leather
Vintage: soft, dusty colors of mauve, gray and blue
Outdoorsy: anything earth tone and hearty fabric
Neutral: khaki and nudes colors with one statement color
Glamourous: formal looks with a statement dress and suit.
Flatter Your Figure
If you’re going to immortalize an outfit, you might as well make it one that makes you look your best! Take some time for yourself to sit, stand, and pose in front of a mirror in your ensembles to make sure clothes fit and flatter. If you need help sifting through your closet I am happy to help make choices.
Read on below to see the best clothing styles for different body shapes.
Tips for Flattering a Woman’s Shape
IF A WOMAN CARRIES MUCH OF HER SHAPE IN HER HIPS
a beautiful short statement necklace, a gorgeous collar, or a top with interesting details at the shoulder will draw the eye upward. A-line skirts, empire waist dresses (fitted just below the bust), horizontal necklines, and straight-leg pants are all flattering silhouettes for this body type. Keep pockets and other details around the hips minimal.
IF HER HIPS AND SHOULDERS ARE ABOUT THE SAME AND THE WAIST IS DEFINED
she will be more flattered by vertical lines, such as a v-neckline or a long necklace. Recommend fluid lines, wrap dresses, belting at the natural waist, and boot-cut pants.
IF HER HIPS AND SHOULDERS ARE ABOUT THE SAME BUT THE WAIST IS NOT DEFINED
the illusion of a waistline can be created by adding interest at the hips and the shoulders with epaulets, collars, embellishments, or color. Ruching at the waist helps to further define the waistline. The best pants for this type are a graduated flare.
ALL BODY TYPES LOOK GORGEOUS IN WRAP TOPS, A-LINE SKIRTS, AND JACKETS CINCHED AT THE WAIST.
How to Use Color in Your Outfits to Create Interesting Photographs
I can guarantee you that there is already something in your closet that will work perfectly.
YES TO TIMELESS & CLASSIC
This includes simple dresses, button-downs, baby rompers, pea coats, khakis, V-necks, cardigans, ballet flats, brown knee-high boots, scarves, blazers, and fedoras. Trendy items are ok, but keep them as accent pieces. Try to steer towards choosing a trendy accessory like a headband, scarf, or hat.
NO TO WORDING OR LOGOS ON CLOTHING
No “Gap,” “Old Navy,” or “Polo” splashed in huge letters across a shirt. It can truly ruin a photograph because your eye will go straight to those words, therefore taking away the most important part of the picture, you two!
Accessories can give your photographs that needed punch. They lend pops of color, personality, and interest.
BUT! Don't overthink props and accessories. A lot of times they aren't needed at all or can be a distraction. Select wisely yet I always suggest bringing something you are on the fence about rather than not having an item as an option.
Hats frame the face, protect the eyes from squinting in full sun, and are fun. You can also use them to strengthen your story; for example, snuggling closely together under a big brim or tossing it behind you in a carefree motion as you hug.
BELTS, SOCKS, SCARVES, JEWELRY
All these things are going to give pops of color and complete the outfit. They can be unexpected bits of fun, too. Striped belts make a boring khaki and polo outfit more interesting. Shiny necklaces give an image a little glimmer and can be a good prop to give something to do with your hands. Scarves can add color and texture plus are incredibly versatile.
Shoes in different settings can really help support a story. Patterned or colorful rain boots for a rainy day, hiking boots to pair with a feminine dress for that awesome outdoorsy-girl look, motorcycle boots to amp up a street casual look, boating shoes to lend that extra dose of preppiness — the possibilities are endless!
Not sure about what to wear? That’s ok! It’s a lot to take in. Visit the Client Scheduling Page to get on Cate’s calendar for a consult so we can discuss it. Video chat is best so you can show me what you have and I can help you edit.