You booked a couple’s session! Whether it’s your engagement session, an epic adventure session, a honeymoon shoot, or just a fun couples session, there’s one thing you might get stuck on: outfits. What to wear for engagement and couples photos is one of the most common questions I get asked.
Keep in mind that dressing for photos is much different than just dressing for an event! It’s likely new to you and your partner and you aren’t sure what to take into consideration.
Here are all my best tips for you right here in this article – and these tips will apply to any & every type of couples session.
Top Outfit Aesthetic Tips
First up, let’s talk about the basics of outfit aesthetics for your photos.
Since you booked your session, you’ve probably been staring at your closet trying to figure out what to do. Do you need to buy new pieces, or do you already have the perfect outfits? What colors will go best together?
As a professional photographer, it’s my job to guide you through this! I’m the one who’s the expert at lighting, colors, shadows, styling, and location – you don’t need to worry about that.
Here are my top tips when it comes to picking outfits with your partner for your upcoming photoshoot!
In general, neutral/earthy tones photograph really beautifully. Whites, ivorys, blacks, greys, creams, tans, taupes, and browns look great on everyone, depending on what shades complement your skin tone. But if you’re not a huge fan of neutral colors, you’re definitely not limited to them.
Colors found in nature are the way to go if you opt for a colorful approach instead of a neutral one. For example, pick out a sage or forest green instead of a bright pastel mint. Or, find a shade of blue that you would see in the ocean or the sky versus a neon blue. This way, your faces and the movement in your bodies will be the focal point rather than the neon color you’re wearing.
You’ll also want to keep in mind the colors present in the location(s) you’ll be shooting at. There are different approaches to choosing colors surrounding the location-if we are shooting at a white/light colored sand beach, and you are wanting the dreamy monochromatic look, choose the lighter colored neutral colors. If you are wanting to stand out a bit in the image, choose something a bit darker. Both looks are really beautiful, and I love both!
I love prints, but for photographs, I’d opt for clothes with either no prints or really simple prints. Simple prints are small prints that aren’t brightly-colored or distracting, or a more faded/less loud type of print. Don’t worry about looking too plain- simple clothing photographs best! The reason for this is the same as for bright colors- a loud print will bring your eye to your clothing, and away from your faces and the nature surrounding you.
When you’re shooting outside, there’s so much texture in the background already. If you’re shooting in a place with mountain peaks or ridges, trees, rocky tide pools, or even by the ocean, the location is already filled with texture and layers of water, photos can end up very busy if there’s a loud print thrown in.
3. Home Decor:
This is one that most people may not think about! Consider what colors you have in your home, living room, bedroom, etc. where you’d most likely frame images. Keep in mind these colors or patterns when picking out your outfits if you care about your photos matching your space.
It doesn’t have to match perfectly, and your clothes don’t have to be the exact colors of your paint swatches. But make sure they won’t clash with your space if you decide to print and frame your photographs – which you always should!
I know the pain of finding the most flattering dress that looks amazing, only to realize that it’s the most uncomfortable thing, or doesn’t stay on right. Maybe it’s a wrap dress that doesn’t want to stay closed on you, or the top always needs to be pulled up. If you find a dress or outfit like this, I’d suggest saving it for a fun date night, and keep on looking for your photoshoot outfit. (Or make sure to grab some double-sided tape/other tools if you really want to wear it, but need to adjust it.)
There will likely be a good amount of movement during our shoot, and it’s worth it to have clothing that can accommodate all the movements you’ll be doing – comfortably. You’ll be much less distracted and more present if you’re not constantly having to adjust to make sure everything is in place.
5. Dynamic Movement:
Riding off that last one – let’s talk more about how your clothes relate to your ability to do dynamic movements.
In general, wearing your hair down or partially down is ideal so that we can capture some beautiful movement with your hair in the wind. The same goes for clothing- its fun to shoot with a longer skirt or dress that has some flow in it. With these types of bottoms, we can get epic, dramatic photos and use the movement to accentuate your photos! Try to avoid wearing shorter, flowy dresses which will blow up in the wind!
Oftentimes, we will be shooting somewhere with wind, so it’s a big thing to keep in mind when picking your outfits and hairstyles. In general, something more fitted on the top and flowy on the bottom is an easy, flattering option. Of course, this depends completely on your body type and your personal style.
Finally, it’s so important to make your outfits feel like you. If you’re wearing something you’re not loving, or that makes you feel self-conscious, it’ll show in the photos. We want you feeling like your absolute best, most confident self in front of the camera.
Find outfits that fit your personality and what you would normally wear. Are you a more casual person in general? Maybe wear casual shorts and a cute beach hat. Or if you love feeling a little dressier, go with a longer dress. Are you and your partner super outdoorsy and adventurous? Bring your swimsuits along and let’s go cliff jumping.
Pick outfits that you feel your best in and that are distraction-free, both with how they fit you and the colors/print they feature. Photos are something you’re investing in, and if you have them hanging up in your house for years, you want to make sure you feel totally awesome and confident in them!
Create Variety: Bring Multiple Outfits
If you only bring one set of outfits, you won’t get as much variety out of your photos. You may not be able to show off all of your personalities fully, also. That’s why I always tell my couples to bring 2-3 outfits to their session. We may only have time to use 1 or 2, but its great to have option, just in case.
A few ideas for sets of outfits you can bring along & combine:
- A casual look (not formal)
- A date-night look (semi-formal)
- A dressier look (formal)
- Swimwear for some fun beach/ocean photos
- Hiking clothes if you’re going on a hike/are an outdoorsy couple
Now, let’s talk briefly about accessories! You can use accessories to totally up your outfit game for your photoshoot. Adding an accessory or two can make your outfit look completely different and create even more variety!
Here are some ideas of accessories you can add to bring more texture to your outfits
- Hats – bucket hats, wide-brimmed hats, straw hats, beanies
- Jewelry – rings, necklaces, bracelets
- Jackets + Sweaters – jackets+ sweaters are a great way to change up your look. Add a leather jacket to a casual look to make it dressier, add a denim jacket to a formal dress to make it a little more casual, a chunky knit sweater to add some beautiful texture.
Where to Buy Your Outfits
Here are some shops you can get great clothes from or use as inspiration for your session:
Bonus Tip: Bringing Your Wedding Clothes to a Session
A quick bonus tip: if you’re married, you and your partner can bring along your wedding clothes to your session!
We can create a mini bridal-type session if you throw your wedding clothes into your outfit bag. It’s a super fun way to get you more photos in the clothes you wore when you tied the knot, and is especially meaningful when you’re taking photos at a different stage of life later on.
There you go – those were all my top tips when it comes to what to wear for engagement photos, anniversary photos, or adventure session.
I love to shop and help style my couples, so if you’re a client of mine, ask me for some help and you’ll receive some great ideas from me. I’ll help make sure your outfits are completely tailored to your comfort, body type, personality, location, and budget!
Check out more of my best elopement & session resources below!