Kali Slaymaker Photography | Iowa City Wedding Photographer + Destination Elopements

What To Wear


Okay here we go.

One of the number one questions I get asked - "What do I wear?" or "What do you recommend?" After realizing the "whatever feels comfortable" was not cutting it in easing my amazing couples' anxieties, I decided to make this! I know it can feel overwhelming scrolling through the 25th page of dresses on ASOS or looking at perfectly curated outfits on Pinterest and thinking "How will I ever choose?!" I know that feeling. I've put this together to provide some basic guidelines on how color, tones, textures, and patterns all make together with the background, each other, and the vibe of your session. I always suggest bringing multiple outfits - 5 or so tops, 3 or so pants, and a few dresses. That way we can kind of mix and match and go from there! Most of the places we'll be you'll have to change in your car or the side of the road, so if you're not comfy with that, you can send me outfits prior so you're ready to go when you get there!

However, the most important thing to remember is to be yourself! I want you to be comfortable in what you're wearing, because if you're not you will LOOK uncomfortable in your photos. If you read these guidelines and think your outfit might not follow them, but you still want to wear it - go for it! This is just meant to be helpful, and guide couples who want the guidance! The thing I LOVE about fashion is that you get to use it to express yourself - there's no right or wrong way to do that. So choose pieces that make you feel good so you can focus on being in love and enjoying your session, not worrying how your clothes look!


Be sure it makes sense

Envision your surroundings and how your clothes - colors, layers, patterns, textures make sense in the environment.

As you can see from the images above - their outfits follow the guideline of wearing what makes sense. If it's below seven degrees outside, make sure you wear warm boots, a vest, bring a blanket, etc. If you're scaling the mountains, make sure you're wearing boots with a good grip. In the heat, wear clothes that are light, move freely, and allow you to breathe. I want you to be as comfortable as possible! So if it's freezing, please please dress warm. Heels generally aren't conducive to adventure sessions, unless you're REALLY good at walking in them! 


Colors, patterns, and tones

Colors can really direct the vibe of a session. The three areas you need to think about when it comes to color is - how it interacts with your skin tones, with each others' outfits, and the landscape. I generally direct clients to stick with more neutral, earthy colors and pick an exciting texture if they want to be bold. I generally advise against bright or fluorescent colors aka leave the neon at home. Know what colors you feel most confident in and go well with your skin tone. Red, pink, and bright orange can be unflattering when editing skin tones, unless you have an olive or darker complexion - then it can really pop nicely! If we're choosing a background that is light and doesn't have a lot of color or things going on in the landscape - dark colors can really make you pop against it and bring dimension to the photo. In a really busy landscape, like a forest - neutrals such as white, tan, and beige can make the photo seem cohesive and not too busy.

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I suggest avoiding big, loud patterns that can distract away from you two and bring the focus only to the clothes. I love small patterns and think it can add really nice interest to your photos! For example, small patterns like floral, subtle plaid in a loved flannel, or flattering stripes! Don't be afraid to mix and match patterns together - I love florals and stripes together.


Matching your landscape

Above is a great example of using pattern, color, and tones exactly right. The pink color of her dress matches the red rocks of the desert landscape. The floral on her dress adds some interest to the photo and doesn't fight with his neutral attire or the barren desert background. I always suggest your colors or patterns be complementary to the landscape without competing too much. For example, wearing a red dress against a really green background might give you some Christmas vibes you aren't going for in the middle of summer. On the other hand, maybe you DO want to wear a great red dress in a snowy forest for those winter vibes. This is why it's so important to think about season, landscape, and the vibe you want from your session!


In home sessions

In home sessions are some of my absolute favorite sessions. Many people view photo sessions as an opportunity to get dressed up and have great, formal photos. I love those, too, but I also think it's fun and an important opportunity to have photos that really feel and look like your true selves. For in home sessions, I suggest going cozy and showing some skin! Tank tops, sweaters, soft layers, ripped jeans. I'm always down for more intimate shoots, too, if you want to wear your underwear and a sweater and your man shirtless, I am here for those sweet, intimate portraits. I promise it's not creepy! We'll have so much fun you'll forget this professional third wheel is there!



Ahhh props. I'm sure many things are coming to mind that maybe are making you cringe. The prop game has evolved and no longer has to be cheesy! Props can be enjoying a pizza and wine during your session, a blanket for looks or warmth, a thermos of your favorite coffee on a freezing day, a canoe for a relaxing ride. If you two drink, bringing along your favorite can be a good way to relax and loosen up if that sounds fun to you, but also just keep in mind this should be FUN and just relax - your images will be so much better for it. Your session can be anything you want it to be and I'm all for creating a unique, fun session. I've also really wanted someone to do a water session in their swimmies with a giant floaty :)



Hair & Makeup

Let's talk hair and makeup! How should you wear your hair? Should you get your makeup done professionally? Is it true that more is better for the camera? Do you know what I say? DO YOU! Seriously, though. Do what feels best to you. If you know you want to look a bit more glam, maybe do more than usual or treat yourself to getting it professionally done. If you don't like to wear much makeup and prefer your natural hair, just do that! I think it's important to think about your session and how you really want the photos to feel and that will drive many decisions about how to dress and look. Remember, this is meant to be a fun date night for you two! It shouldn't be stressful or stiff. It should be fun for both of you.


Let's do this!

I hope this was helpful as a general outline of choosing what to wear for your session.

Let me know if you have any questions!