Hot Tips on What to Wear for Engagement Photos

Everyone wants to look their best for their engagement photos but remember its really a matter of personal style and should be in keeping with the look you hope to achieve. There are a few factors that I think are important to consider when thinking about what to wear for engagement photos regardless if your session is a studio or on location shoot. To begin, color is a very important consideration. Not only is black classic and slimming it also photographs well on dark backgrounds. I also like burgundy, grey and deep red. On the other hand, denim, pastels, and whites work better with light backgrounds and with most outdoor settings.

Keep in mind however your “good” colors. For example, golden skin tones do not wear shades of blue well, nor do blue skin tones wear oranges or yellows well. I have also found that brunettes photograph beautifully in white and blondes, in black. The contrast can be striking. Hands down white or off-white looks best on a beach location. Breezy, summer dresses are lovely unless the wind catches the dress and billows you like you have gained 40 pounds. I have always found linens to photograph extremely well on the beach. The difficulty is trying to pair an ensemble for a couple. Its never the best idea to be identical… although I have seen it done and it can produce good shots. Clothing with texture is always beautiful in black and white. My best suggestion is to avoid stripes, polka dots, distracting patterns, t-shirts, and t-shirts with decals unless you are both sports fans and support the same team….if not that may be tricky….


As for the style of clothing, its best to not be too trendy unless you are doing portfolio work. Long sleeves are best because bare arms usually distract from the beauty of the face and on a male can change a portrait to a snapshot in one swift move. You might consider bringing a change of wardrobe for different poses as well. However, the key here is to wear something that’s comfortable. If you are not at ease with what you are wearing, this will show on your face and will completely take your attention away from the shoot.

Keep jewelry to a minimum. Metals and watches tend to create unwanted reflections. If you wear earrings, keep them dignified. If you have more than one ear piercing, then for a formal portrait, wear only one set in the main opening. If you are going for an edgy look, by all means keep all your piercing. Same for tattoos….cover up for a formal session or if your session is an editorial of you and the work you have had done on your body….then show them off!!!

Makeup and hair is another important consideration. Some young women nowadays do not wear much makeup and that is a good thing. Although a bit of foundation, powder and blush can do much to soften your look in your portraits. Too much applied over acne or redness can accentuate dryness and make the area look much worse.

Dressing children tends to break most of these rules. They can get by with stripes and polka dots when we can not. Contrasting patterns can be adorable on a group of siblings. My favorite shots however have the children of a family…all in the same mid-tones or white.. only dressed differently. For example, a little sister in a quaint antique white dress, her brother in linen slacks and shirt in the same shade and the oldest sister in matching skirt and blouse. Let the clothing demonstrate their personalities.

Most important to remember however, is to be comfortable, relax and have fun, smile and laugh!!!! If that shows through in your portraits it may not even matter what you are wearing….


About the Author:
Chris Marsh, Photoplay Photography – Charlotte, North Carolina

Chris offers candid, spontaneous and timeless wedding day photography. A wonderful mix of documentary, photojournalism and traditional portraiture that captures every nuance, detail and emotion of your wedding day.
You can check out more from Chris on her blog or website.

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1 review

  1. Julia Mercer, July 4, 2011 8:52 pm - Hot Tips on What to Wear for Engagement Photos

    Great insight. I really appreciate the depth of this article. Its hot and miserable and I have been having a tough time deciding what to wear. At least now I know what to steer clear of and that’s a big step in the right direction for me.

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