What to Bring, What to Buy & What to Borrow: All Your Senior Picture Questions Answered
Planning for your senior portrait session can be overwhelming, and that’s because it’s easy to look at the big picture and see ALL THE THINGS that have to happen before the big day actually arrives. There are so many things to think about…from hair and makeup to clothes and locations to props and poses. The list goes on. Choosing what to wear for senior pictures is the one thing that all my grads worry about, so I’m gonna help you get the best outfits for senior pictures! I’m breaking things down for my clients to make senior pictures easy and stress-free!
What to Wear & Where to Shop
Today is all about all the awesome outfits you’ll choose for your photo shoot. Know why that’s important? Because the fashion foot you put forward says a LOT about who you are and how you take on the world!
It can be overwhelming to select the best outfits for your senior portrait session, I get it. You are going to have these photos forever, and you’re going to share them with all the people who are important in your life. You want to look your best.
Here are some of the most common questions I get from soon-to-be-grads who are preparing for their senior sessions:
- What kinds of outfits should I bring?
- What should I buy and where should I shop?
- What pieces can I borrow?
- How can I maximize mixing and matching to create different looks?
- What about daytime and nighttime looks? Should I dress differently?
Just about every senior I’ve worked with has had nearly the same questions. Today, I’m going to answer ALL of them.
What Kind of Outfits Should I Bring?
Every photographer offers different session types, lengths, and guidelines. For my seniors, the general rule—especially if you’re investing in an Ultimate or Platinum Senior Portrait Session—is to bring six complete outfits. For Gold Portrait Sessions, bring three to four complete outfits, since we’ll only be shooting for about an hour.
My best advice, so that you get a great variety that shows off your personality and style, is to mix things up. Be sure to bring plenty of styles, colors, patterns, and textures to expand the diversity of your portrait gallery.
My next best piece of advice is this: You are uniquely YOU. You already have amazing style! I’m just helping you capture it in a way the camera loves.
Here’s what I suggest:
- Casual outfits like jeans or jean shorts with a cute top or sweater.
- Dressy outfits like dresses, skirts, and jumpsuits.
- Formal outfits like prom or homecoming dresses.
- Trendy outfits, especially if they are ALL about your personality!
- Sports, team, and club uniforms, since they’re a huge part of your high school career.
When you bring a mix of outfits, you’ll have casual outfits that will never go out of style, dressy outfits to make you feel amazing, formal dresses for a glam look, and trendy outfits that really show your personality. Since we couldn’t decide on day or night for Janaye’s prom dress, we did both! That’s allowed too, you know. And then we added a jacket at night and sunglasses during the day to catch all her favorite styles. Want to see more? Janaye is one of my featured seniors and so you can see get lots of ideas for great outfits for senior pictures.
Outfits Are Just the Beginning
Don’t worry. You’ve totally got this, and I’m here to walk you through it step by step. After the outfits come the accessories.
“A woman makes an outfit her own with accessories.”Oscar de la Renta
Even though he was talking about the ladies, the whole accessories rule goes for you, too, guys! But don’t panic, if you need help choosing clothes for guys senior pictures, I got you!
Take Stock Before You Shop
Before you go on an all-out shopping spree, take a look in your own closet first. Remember, you’ve been dressing yourself and looking chic and stylish for quite a while now, so you probably have a ton of great pieces that will really show off your style in your senior portraits.
Ready for a pro tip? Of course you are!
PRO TIP: You know all those perfect outfits you found while shopping…only to hang them in your closet for the perfect occasion? They may still have tags on them now, but this could be the perfect time to pull those brand-new treasures out of your closet! And guess what? Your bestie’s probably done the same thing, and since she’s your bestie, her closet is probably fair game, too. Heck, bring her along for your photo shoot, and we’ll snap a shot of the two of you and a shenanigan or two!
What should I buy, and where should I shop?
You likely have your very own shopping hot spots, but if you’re looking for some inspiration, you may want to check out some of these options to get you started.
For casual outfits, check out:
- American Eagle – This is a great shopping hot spot if you’re looking for cute blouses, tops, and denim! The great thing about American Eagle is that they offer a wide range of sizes, and their quality is good. And if you’re looking for a cozy vibe, their sister store, Aerie, offers the very best in soft and comfy basics like thermal tops and tanks that look adorable under overalls and cardigans.
- Forever 21 – Be sure to add this store to your list! Full of affordable and trendy tops and blouses, you’ll find plenty of options to pair with your favorite jeans and skirts. Always on trend, they offer dresses, sweaters, and accessories to fit any budget.
- Target – Who doesn’t LOVE Target, amiright? Alongside great basics like layering tanks and cardigans, Target offers adorable and trendy jackets and sweaters that will help you rock your standout style. If you haven’t seen their Wild Fable line yet, you’ll definitely want to check it out!
For dressy outfits, check out:
- Joyfolie – With a wonderful variety of dresses, jumpsuits, jackets, and more, you’re sure to find something that makes you feel stunning at Joyfolie. They offer gorgeous long, flowy dresses that are perfect for adding movement to your session. Go ahead, let your classy style shine!
- Altar’d State – Shake up your wardrobe with a high-quality outfit that can be dressed up or down. Altar’d State is jam-packed with beautiful options that will add variety and a touch of glam to your wardrobe. Here’s a sneak peek of some drool-worthy dresses that will help you shine in front of the camera. And, take a look at these rompers and jumpsuits. The possibilities are endless, so dive in and find the perfect outfit for you!
For formal dresses, check out:
- Oh La La by Posh – With an elegant one-on-one buying experience and all your favorite designers in one place, you’re sure to find the dress of your dreams!
Don’t forget, if you went to prom or another formal event, you probably have a lovely dress you can wear for your senior portraits—without having to invest another dime in dress shopping.
For trendy outfits, check out:
- Anthropologie / Free People – Planning on an outdoor photo session? You’ll find some great flowy tops and dresses here! Their style is fun, the quality is amazing, and they have gorgeous colors and patterns with a vintage vibe.
- PacSun – Leaning more toward grunge, patterned clothing, PacSun is always up-to-date with the latest styles. It’s not a super-girly store, and it’s always loaded with awesome accessories.
- Urban Outfitters – Looking for chic, boho, carefree vibes with vintage-inspired designs? This is the spot for you! Urban Outfitters is always on top of the fashion game and offers fun patterned pants, unique tops, and cute accessories, too. You’ll find plenty of trendy and stylish clothing with great colors for urban locations.
For thrifting, check out:
- Buffalo Exchange – With locations in Phoenix and Tempe, there’s never a shortage of cool and trendy fashion gems just waiting to be discovered! Super fun and upbeat, Buffalo Exchange is for buyers and sellers and is full of fashion that’s been selected by trendsetters just like you. If you’re looking to up your accessory game, be sure to check out the wall of hats to top off your latest fashion find!
- Ross – I love other discount stores like TJ Maxx and Marshalls, but Ross is my fave for the variety of styles, colors, and textures it offers. Oh yeah, and the bargains! My best Ross secret? Shop end-of-season sales for great markdowns and clearance prices.
A Cautionary Tale
Sometimes deals are too good to be true. Beware of hyper-discounted online sellers that offer super-fashionable options. Remember the old adage: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Steer clear of “great deals” that actually end up being cheap options that don’t hold up.
Watch out for too-good-to-be-true deals like:
- Shein – While the prices seem great and the outfits look adorable online, often customers don’t get what they think they’re going to receive—and returns are all too common. Quality can be low, but with that said, it can be a fun place to score that cute trendy top or darling dress just for senior pictures. Just remember to proceed…and purchase…with caution.
- Amazon – Don’t throw things at me just yet, I love Amazon as much as you do! I love that I can try several outfits and easily return the ones I don’t love. Plus Amazon has thousands of choices!! But of course, read the reviews and check the quality. Another note, if you want a different style, something special that you’re only going to wear for senior pictures, Amazon is a great idea! Rae got his super cute dress at Amazon just for her 50’s diner photo shoot.
What pieces can I borrow?
Hey, that’s a great question! I already mentioned your best friend’s closet—which you’ve probably been shopping and swapping in for years, but did you know there’s another freebie closet that’s available to you?
Welcome to the Style Closet! All of my clients have access to my exclusive Style Closet, which I personally shop for and stock every season with the trendiest and most stylish looks. You don’t need to worry about size, shape, or what works best for you because my Style Closet is jam packed with a wide variety of styles for every client I work with. From jackets to jumpers to just the right accessory, you might just discover the perfect piece to top off your outfit in the Style Closet. All of these outfits and so many more are available for you to borrow!
How can I maximize mixing and matching to create different looks?
You can create a completely different look simply by adding a leather jacket, a pair of sunglasses, or a floppy-brimmed hat to your outfit. (Not all at once…that would be a disaster!) The point is, sometimes all it takes is just the right piece—added to your already-amazing look to create an altogether different style that’s equally as stunning.
When we talk about your outfits and our photo shoot plan, I can help you work out how to mix and match for model-worthy looks at every turn!
Should I dress differently for daytime and nighttime looks?
The really great thing about selecting the Ultimate Portrait Session, or a longer day-to-night session, is that you can really show off your style with some great transitional pieces. Transitional pieces are those things you can wear during the daytime and then, later, when the sun goes down, add a little extra something to glam them up for evening time.
Things that work great as transitional pieces are jumpers, skirts, and dressy blouses. These pieces are easy to pair with daytime pieces like flats, hats, and trendy accessories. When nightfall arrives, it’s just as easy to swap the more casual accessories for dressier options like heels, drop earrings, and wraps.
Alternatively, save your glammed up dresses for an evening under twinkling lights, and show off your trendy daytime wear while the sun is shining. Bren’s senior portrait wardrobe was a perfect mix of pretty tops, nice dresses, cozy sweaters, and trendy jeans, so all we did was add in a jacket and hat from the Style Closet and she had a huge gallery with lots of different looks!
Your Session, Your Style
Whether it’s time to shop or scour your closet for hidden gems, this article will help you decide what to wear for senior pictures. Just remember there’s no need to stress! This is all about fun and making memories, and we’ll work together one step at a time to create senior pictures you love!
Deciding what to wear for senior pictures is difficult. I love that you give not only ideas on what to wear, but where to buy the items as well. Great tips for high school seniors and parents!
This is one of my all-time favorite posts! I was able to gather so much information from years of specializing in senior portraits, but also from the teens. They gave me tons of great input about their favorite stores and where to shop too. Thanks so much for commenting, Jodi!
WOW! So much great information for senior’s and their parents as they are preparing for their senior portrait session. Deciding what to wear and what to purchase can be so overwhelming!
Hey Brandi! Thanks for taking the time to read through all these great ideas about what to wear for senior pictures! Shopping for senior portrait outfits should be fun, not stressful!
Making decisions about what to wear for senior photos can be easy with this kind of help! Michelle, you have given not only great tips on what to wear for different effects and moods, but where to find the best outfits for every senior. Love this read.
Thanks so much, Andrea! I’m glad you found it helpful! 🙂
Truly the ultimate guide for wardrobe planning for Senior Portraits. I especially love the “cautionary tale” section.” LOL.
Hey Susan! This is one of my seniors’ favorite posts because it has alllll the info for finding the perfect outfits for senior pictures! Glad you enjoyed it!