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How to Select Wardrobe for a Shoot

by Iggy Paulsen 2 years ago in industry

Lighting? Check. Hair? Check. Makeup? Check! Here's how to select wardrobe for a shoot.

If you are looking to do editorial shoots, portraiture, or any sort of fashion photoshoot, then you already know how important the style elements will be in the overall outcome of your work. It makes sense; these kinds of shoots are more about the clothing and model than anything else.

Though hair, makeup, lighting, and background choice make an impact, nothing will be quite as impactful as your clothing choices. Clothes make or break fashion editorials, after all.

To make the most out of your photoshoot planning, take this ex-model's tips on how to select wardrobe for a shoot.

The first thing to do is keep in mind the purpose of the shoot.

Unless you are looking for a real statement-making editorial, most photoshoots will require your models to look like an average person. The best photos are the ones where the model is relatable, and yet flatteringly portrayed.

This means that sticking with easy outfits anyone can pull off, the kind you'd see in stock photography, is usually the best option. Things like black pants that fit the model's figure, off-white tees, sweaters, and simple accessories tend to work best in most shots.

For the purposes of simplicity and aesthetics, it's pretty easy to pick out a wardrobe for a shoot; just feel free to raid a typical person's closet and you should be all set.

Sometimes, the most flattering wardrobe items in real life are absolutely terrible on camera—and vice versa. The most common reason for good clothes that look bad deals with the material they're made from.

Clothing that has see-through fabric, is cheaply made, or has fiber that does not accentuate your curves will never look good. It doesn't matter who you are; don't wear things like that.

Personally, I've noticed that nylon, shiny materials, and flowy materials tend to work best. Heavy materials, bulky materials, and really low-quality materials tend to fail you when you need them most.

I want to point out something that's fairly obvious. Models have to wear flattering shapewear in their shoots. Shapewear, particularly bras, make it possible for shirts to fit correctly.

If you want to have a good shoot, I strongly suggest investing in shapewear that avoids lines, but still helps add a little flattery. Spanx is great for reducing tummy pooch and lifting up your booty.

Choose clothes that are appropriate for your shoots.

No matter what wardrobe your shoot needs, it's important to remember that fit is king. You can have the finest, most beautifully tailored Gucci dress available, but if it fits poorly on the model, you will not be able to take a good photo with it.

If you already have an idea of the clothing that you want to shoot in, do a "dry run" by having a friend photograph you. This is especially true with wardrobe that isn't already in the model's closet. You need to know it fits before the camera comes out.

From personal experience, tightly fitting clothing tends to be more flattering than loose clothing. The bagginess adds pounds to your frame and obscures your physique.

As much as I want to say otherwise, the truth is that a lot can go wrong while trying to work out a wardrobe. Patterned dresses can look bulky. Peplum can look frumpy. Super-tight jeans can look likely to explode.

If you want to improve your chances of having wardrobe success, try to avoid the avant-garde. Wearing solid colors and clothing you feel comfortable in tends to be the best option for any shoot.

I strongly suggest looking for clothing that works with your personality—or your model's personality. After all, if you aren't sporting clothes you love to wear, you won't feel free to pose naturally. Fashion Nova's Instagram is a great example of this concept.

Statement shoots are few and far between—and selecting a wardrobe for a shoot of this type can get tricky. I suggest bringing at least two more outfits than you think you need, plus a ton of different accessories.

You can then mix and match to find the best outfit while on set. Though I can't honestly say for sure, this definitely seems like the way sites like Dolls Kill select wardrobe for a shoot.

This is more important to do when you're shooting statement outfits since you never know how the model will work with what you bring. In a more basic shot, it's pretty predictable how things will unfold.

You know what you call a wardrobe guy who doesn't select accessories for an editorial shoot? Fired. Accessories are what tie together an outfit and give it personality. Even the most basic of outfits in stock photos will include accessories like necklaces and sunglasses, and any fashionista will tell you that if you don't throw on something to glitz your outfit up, you're exhibiting signs that you don't know how to dress.

This shot from Vogue shows how insanely important accessories can be, even for a hair shoot. If you don't wear accessories in your shoot, you're losing out!

Colors are a stylist's best friend, especially when it comes to fashion shoots. You should try to look at two different kinds of color themes when selecting a wardrobe for a shoot: contrasting colors and complimentary colors.

Complimentary colors add cohesiveness to a shoot, which helps make a photo feel relaxing. Taylor Swift's shot in Cosmopolitan proves this fairly well.

Placing models in similar colors, or just meshing colors well with the background can give your shots a more visually appealing, relaxing, and "put together" vibe.

Contrasting colors are colors that are found on opposite effects of the spectrum—like yellow and purple. When you add contrast to your shots, you force a focal point to pop, and drag attention to your subject.

If you can, select two different wardrobes: one that compliments the background and one that contrasts it. You will be able to get a much better spectrum of looks this way.

As much as we want to talk about how important it is to wear stylish gear, there are still some major no-nos when you're trying to put together a good shoot. Here are some of the biggest mistakes to avoid:

  • Forgetting to work the outfit's color palette with your model's skin tone. Did you ever see someone who really didn't understand how to dress for their skin tone? They tend to look a little sick, on and off camera. Make sure you know how to work with your model's skin tone before you hit the shoot.
  • Wearing dirty clothing or shoes. Clean clothes are camera-ready clothes. Don't forget to wash them before the shoot!
  • Forgetting to match the wardrobe selection to the scene. When you are trying to select wardrobe for a shoot, you have to remember that the outfit is not going to be the only element of your photos. You should choose an outfit that goes well with your background and props.
  • Not matching clothing on the model. Unless you're distinctly going for a clashed look, you need to try to match clothing, accessories, and shoes together.
  • Not thinking about how you want the model to pose. Photo composition is a thing!
  • Choosing clothes that will be a nightmare to Photoshop. We all know how pesky tiny prints can be, or how awkward certain materials can look. Don't give yourself a headache in Photoshop later; have simple clothes ready for your photoshoot.

These may seem like ticky-tacky, little details, but trust me, they matter. Vogue followed these rules in this shoot, and the results are pretty outstanding.

People often forget how much of an impact footwear makes on your posture. Heels force your calves to flex, make your spine arch aesthetically, and also add length to your legs.

Though it's possible to get good shots with sneakers, I strongly suggest at least one shoot with heels. It can make a huge world of difference when you select wardrobe for a shoot. Fashion Nova's models really show you why.

Iggy Paulsen
Iggy Paulsen
Read next: 7 Most Stylish Quarantine Looks.
Iggy Paulsen

Iggy Paulsen is a fan of anything and everything wholesome. He loves his two dogs, hiking in the woods, traveling to Aruba, building DIY projects that better humanity, and listening to motivational speakers. He hopes to eventually become a motivational speaker himself.

See all posts by Iggy Paulsen

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