I get this question all the time, and it’s a big one! SHOULD you buy all new clothes for your upcoming photo session? It’s super easy to get drawn in by “Pinterest perfect” photo wardrobe inspiration. Before you head to Target with a pin board full of outfit inspo… slow down.
You do NOT have to buy new clothes for the whole fam ahead of your session! Honestly, you might be surprised at the other options available to you, and… what you might already have hiding in your own closet!
Sometimes, it might honestly be best to make that Target trip (and we’ll talk about that too!) – but if you can avoid it with a little strategic look-through of your existing wardrobe, don’t you wanna?? Assuming you’re not just using a photo session as a good excuse for new clothes, in which case: more power to you, go do the thing.
But if you’re hoping to be a little budget-conscious, before you get those matching Christmas PJs for your holiday mini, or beige-on-beige-on-beige looks from that pin-board I mentioned… let’s get down to it!
First, pick a vibe!
Of course, no matter what, choosing a tone for the session is going to be your first step to picking wardrobe, so you’re going to need to handle that first. Sometimes that’s going to require a little conversation with your photographer (me?) and that’s okay! Most photographers are more than happy to talk you through theme and vision before your session, myself included.
We can even provide some wardrobe inspiration if you need suggestions!
And of course, think about whether this session is serving a specific purpose for you. If you’re certain you’re going to want to print images to hang in your livingroom, or on a gallery wall, for example, then you’re going to want to coordinate the colors you (and anyone else involved in the session!) wear so that the images will work in the space you plan to hang them in. Like, if you have a super neutral themed living space, it might not be the bestest idea on the planet to wear vivid blues, or bright greens to your session. Or most vivid colors in general.
On the other hand, if you have a maximalist, vibrant living space, neutral clothing in your images won’t look at home either! So if there’s a purpose to your photos, make sure that purpose is considered when you’re thinking about the theme of your session, and therefore the wardrobe choices you make ahead of time.
Does your photographer offer wardrobe?
When you’re having that convo with your photographer, it might be worth asking them whether they offer wardrobe options. This might not be relevant for all session types, but for sessions like maternity (where gowns are commonly used!) photographers may have some options you can choose from in their studio, either included in the cost of your session, or for an added fee.
Can you consider renting?
Believe it or not, it might be realistic to rent wardrobe items for your session instead of buying! This will also depend on the type of session you’re having, because the more formal the clothing items… the easier it will be to find a rental option. But if you, for example, were scheduling a Mommy & Me session and you wanted to have a more formal theme, renting coordinating gowns for you and your daughter, or renting tiny tuxes for your sons might be a lot more cost effective than purchasing, and prevents you from having single-use clothing items gathering dust in your closet. Cost effective, AND sustainable! Doesn’t get better than that, right?
What’s already in your closet?
But if renting isn’t realistic, and your photographer doesn’t offer wardrobe options that fit with the look and feel you’re going with for your session, you still have options other than outright buying new.
The first thing I want you to look at probably sounds annoying, because you already know what’s in your closet, right? And if you don’t (even if you do, honestly), it’s inconvenient AF to go looking. I get it. But… it might just be worth it!
So ask yourself – what favorite items from your closet that you ALREADY HAVE might be able to fit with the vibe for your session? Try things on, and remember to get creative. You might be able to bring new life to what feels like tired denim by pairing them with a shirt you’ve not worn in ages, or accessorize a dress you used to love (but are tired of wearing) with a belt that’s been hiding in the back of your drawers.
While you’re looking, make note of the things you think are options, because it might be that instead of getting a whole new outfit, you JUST need a shirt, or just need bottoms!
If your session is going to involve a significant other, spouse, or family members (we’ll get to kiddos in a second!) remember that the wardrobe picks you make for your whole clan don’t need to match *perfectly*. What they need to be is COORDINATED, and COMPLIMENTARY. What that DOESN’T mean, is everyone wearing the same pattern. What it DOES mean is matching colors and textures that feel like they’re friends.
What about your kiddo’s closets?
If your kiddos are going to be involved in the session, then obviously they’re going to have to wear clothes too. Kind of a requirement.
But the same steps apply to their wardrobe options! I’d recommend making sure that you’ve already chosen your items before looking at your kid(s’) wardrobes, that way you can match what they’re going to wear to the things you know you’re going to feel comfortable in. You might be surprised with how many items in your closet (and theirs!) coordinate well without having planned a special shopping trip for it.
Remember, no matter how you go about choosing wardrobe options for your upcoming photo session, make sure you’re choosing clothes that you’re comfortable in! And I don’t mean just like… physically comfy. I mean *mentally* comfy, too. There’s nothing wrong with keeping things more casual, if you’re a casual human! It’s already awkward enough (for some people) to have a camera pointed at you, if you also feel like you’re in a monkey suit because you’re not wearing things that make you feel like YOU, then that’s going to show in your photos, no matter how comfortable you are with a photographer documenting you.
And of course: if you have questions, reach out! I would love to talk you through choosing wardrobe items, look at examples from your closet, and talk about what it means to “coordinate” items vs choosing things that “match”. I want to make your Minneapolis photo session process as simple as possible, and this is part of that!