This is it, you’ve booked your portrait session/boudoir portraits and you’ve got an image in mind for what you’re going to wear! The only trouble is….you don’t have the perfect evening gown or vintage fur hanging around in your closet. Here’s some ideas for tracking down your dream portrait wardrobe.

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As of the time I am writing this, I have started building a studio wardrobe that you are welcome to borrow from.  This will be an ever-growing collection of garments and accessories that I think will look fantastic in portraits!

One of the dresses available to wear for portraits

This dress is part of my studio wardrobe and is available to wear during your portrait sitting. (and it has pockets!)

BORROW WARDROBE FOR YOUR PORTRAITS

Check with your friends or family. You might be surprised what’s in their closets. Even if they don’t have exactly what you’re looking for, see if they have something similar. Sometimes the addition of accessories, jewelry, or even fabric drapes or scarves can transform a simple dress.

Vintage, Thrift, or Consignment Shops

This is great for two reasons – one, you’re sure to find a selection of unique and interesting pieces. Two, you’ll save money and be giving something a new life. 

There are plenty of options online for buying used or vintage clothes, but be sure the seller is reputable and that they provide measurements as well as sizes. Since you won’t be able to try the piece on before you purchase, you want some extra reassurance it will fit. It’s also good to check their return policy in case you discover the garment simply doesn’t fit. If you shop locally, then you can try everything on before you buy.

Shop Your Own Closet

You might think you know your own wardrobe by heart, but it could be worth pulling everything out and really looking at it. A piece you haven’t worn in years might turn out to be just right paired with a new skirt. Be sure to think about all the clothes you have, even if they’re off-season when you’re session is scheduled. It’s easy to forget about a beautiful summer dress in the middle of winter but it might be perfect for your portrait.

Hit the Mall or other Stores

Whether you shop in person or go online, your portrait session can be a great reason to do some shopping and pick up a few new pieces. Keep in mind that you could find fabulous options in bridal or formalwear stores, especially if there’s a sample sale. Some online stores will even customize a gown to your measurements and specifications, which can make it much easier to have your dream portrait look.

Rent

There are business like Rent the Runway that specialize in hooking people up with designer clothes for special occasions. It’s a great way to bring couture to your session without a couture budget. 

Tips

 Whether you’re shopping in person or ordering pieces, try everything on (wearing the same undergarments you’ll wear for your session if you can) as soon as possible. In addition to checking things out from the front, be sure to take some selfies that show front, back, sides, and seated to be sure the garment looks good on camera and fits well. 

Once you settle on pieces to bring to your session, don’t forget about accessories! Consider what jewelry you want to wear and try it out to make sure it all works together. While jewelry is an obvious addition, don’t forget about things like decorative hair embellishments, hosiery, hats, scarves and wraps, and even coats or capes. If you inherited Grandma’s fur coat, this could be a fantastic opportunity to show it off. 

Give everything you’re bringing to your session a quick inspection. Check for rips, tears, missing buttons, or stains. If you find any, have the garment repaired or cleaned before your session or look for other options. It might not seem like a big deal, but even a tiny hole or stain can show up on camera. Also, check to make sure your jewelry is in good repair and you’re not missing stones or earring backs. Consider cleaning your jewelry for your session.

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