It doesn’t matter how great our Photographer is if you don’t wear wardrobe that is flattering to your body type. Yes, the better the Photographer the more likely they will be able to make adjustments for poor (uninformed) clothing selections. Beautiful lighting, smart lens selections and a twist and turn of the client’s pose can do wonders. However a few simple tips can make an average portrait into a masterpiece.
Wardrobe Tip #1 – Dark Colors will make you look slimmer. Light colors are to be worn with caution. Light colors appear to make whatever they cover to look many sizes larger. I recommend light colors (white, yellow, etc) in just those special times you want a part of your body to look bigger than it actually is. I could explain the psychology of this along with how the camera records objects in just 2 dimensions but that isn’t necessary today. Simply do not wear light colors without a specific purpose.
Wardrobe Tip #2 – Patterns and Stripes are just as dangerous as light colors and should be selected with care. Horizontal stripes appear to make that part of your body “wider”. For this very reason you will often see women’s tops made from horizontal stripes to make them “curvier”. Horizontal Stripes on the average person is usually not flattering. Vertical Stripes are the exact opposite and very often a nice choice for a sporty look in portraits. Patterns and Florals look really nice on the hanger in the local department stores. Photographically a pattern( including floral print) attracts a lot of attention and thus fights for attention in a portrait. Patterns create the optical illusion of at least 2 extra clothing sizes. Really dark patterns are not bad if chosen wisely. However nothing beats a solid dark color for flattery.
Wardrobe Tip #3 – For the women… try to avoid clothing that has the classic Empire waist line. I know these are super popular and just about every teen has a dozen selections with this style. The Empire waist line is the clothing style with a very high waist line up the torso just under the bust. One again these look cool on the mannequins at the local Mall but every week I hear the same dreaded comment – “that dress makes me look big”. As a Photographer (and a pretty good Wardrobe Stylist) I make adjustments to these high waisted tops/dresses with a handful of clothspins. However nothing beats a blouse – dress – skirt with the waist line at your natural waist.
Wardrobe Tip #4 – Say NO to clunky shoes. In other words wear shoes that are slim, delicate, and darkish in color. I know that shoes styles are personal and for some these styles define ones personality. I love incorporating the right pair of shoes into a portrait. This can be a blast and make for a great and very exciting portrait. Just make sure you don’t wear a shoe that simply takes over your foot adding what appears to be several un-necessary pounds of fabric and leather. Even an ankle strap high heel is going to make your legs appear a couple inches shorter than a non ankle strap heel. Anything that disrupts the continuous line of your leg shortens the leg’s length and shape.
Wardrobe Tip #5 – If given a choice I find that long sleeves are the most flattering. This is definitely true for men and usually the best for women. The long sleeve brings more attention to the models face. With short sleeves there are often issues with underarms, skin blemishes, bra straps, etc. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t wear short sleeves in some of your portraits. Short sleeves can look awesome depending on the model.
Let me close by saying that it is best to bring lots of wardrobe selections to any photo session. Let your Photographer offer suggestions. You really can’t bring too many choices.
Feel free to send me comments and any questions you may have about wardrobe. I’m happy to offer my experience in these matters.
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