Styling Tips for Couple Portraits

One of the most frequent questions I get from clients before a shoot is: "What should I wear?" 

As a fashion major, the question always makes me giddy with excitement as I think of every possible outfit idea under the sun (and that effect is multiplied exponentially when I realize how many more outfit possibilities there are between two people!), but I usually rein myself in and provide the following guidelines:

1. Coordinate instead of match.

Rather than try to wear all the same colors, prints, or styles, a more effective strategy is to coordinate pieces around a central theme or palette. This will provide a more natural, "lived-in" feel that is hard to achieve with head-to-toe matched colorblocking, for instance.

A fun brainstorming activity is to imagine an event that the two of you are attending: be it a state fair, a concert, a rodeo, a reunion, a wedding, or just a lovely stroll through the park on a beautiful sunny day. Think of what you would naturally gravitate towards for the chosen event, and let that guide your outfit and styling choices.

 

2. If your session includes an outfit change, bring one outfit from your everyday wardrobe and one outfit that you would be more likely to wear on a special occasion.

I'm personally a huge fan of having multiple outfits in a shoot, as what you wear often makes a huge impact on how you feel and what you exude.

Everyday clothes offer a comfortable, easygoing, and natural vibe that is excellent for lifestyle shoots, while special occasion outfits let you step out into a new light with confidence, elegance, and charisma.

The combination of the two makes for a multifaceted collection of images that are uniquely you!

 

3. Jewel tones are your friends!

Ahhhh, jewel tones. Flattering on a wide variety of skin tones, beautifully and vibrantly rendered in photographs, and almost impossible to get wrong.

Did I mention that jewel tones are also super coordinate-able? Say hello to your new besties.

 

4. Consider small-scale rather than large-scale prints.

As a rule of thumb, small-to-medium-scale prints tend to be much more flattering than large-scale ones. This is especially pertinent if you are short (ahem) and/or curvy (ahem again). Thin stripes, cute small/medium florals, small polka dots, and closely-spaced plaids add visual interest without visual distortion!

 

5. Accessorize!

Bracelets, watches, necklaces, earrings, hats - the list goes on and on. Accessories are a great way to add that extra "something" to an outfit, whether it be subtle or loud, and can also help in coordinating between two outfits (noticing a trend here??). They are often the perfect finishing touch to a session-ready outfit!

 

Keep in mind that the above points are just guidelines meant to spark your imagination and give you insight to your own wardrobe, and rules are meant to be broken. Have a dress with a huge floral print that makes you feel beautiful and bold, or super matchy couple ouftits that have a special significance to you? By all means wear these to the session!  The most important thing is that you love what you are wearing - that ease and joy will show in your portraits!

 

Now go forth and coordinate!