BARLOW PROSE

The official blog of St. Louis-based photography and video production studio Barlow Productions. Updated like clockwork every 100 days or so.

How to Dress for Pictures and Video

No matter what look you're going for—casual and friendly or serious and professional—it's essential to dress the part. Use these tips to help you choose the most flattering attire for your portrait session. And if you still have questions afterward, don't hesitate to contact us

First, think about the image you want to project. Is it important that you come off as creative and hip? Or maybe conservative and reliable is more your speed. Make clothing choices that reinforce the narrative of your personal brand. When in doubt, it's hard to go wrong with professional business attire—especially for a business portrait. 

 

Man in casual business attire for a portrait session

 

For a conservative business portrait, we suggest avoiding extremes at all costs. In terms of tones, avoid all-black or all-white ensembles. Deep colors, like navy blue, gray and brown, are all great choices for jackets and suits. Deep colors are slimming too. 

Busy is bad—whether in a jacket, shirt, tie or jewelry choices. Avoid patterns and overly-bright colors. Anything that distracts the viewer is a bad idea. 

You have the right to bare arms… but unless you're a model, don’t do it. Crop sleeves and sleeveless shirts look very casual and typically don’t photograph well. 

 

Woman in tank top, which isn't ideal for portraits unless you're a model

 

For the most professional, conservative appearance, men should wear a jacket and tie. It's hard to go wrong with a solid color red or blue tie, or even a basic bold stripe. A minimal pattern always looks better than a busy tie. And unless you're known as "The Bow Tie Guy," you'll be better served by a long necktie. 

To dress for a slimming effect, remember that solid, dark colors are slimming, while light colors and patterns are not. Vertical lines are slimming, even in pleats; horizontal stripes are not. A solid color from head to toe (i.e. a suit rather than a sport coat and slacks) is slimming. Single-breasted jackets are more slimming than double-breasted, and a v-shaped neckline is more flattering than a curve. This shape is easily achieved with a buttoned jacket or an open-neck shirt. If you'll be standing for a full-length portrait, high heels are slimming—as are clothes that are well tailored rather than clothes that are bulky, baggy, wrinkled or too tight. The label may not matter, but the fit sure does.

 

A fine suit is ideal attire for a portrait

 

These same guidelines will serve you well for video too—with a few additional considerations. Avoid tight patterns and busy prints at all costs. Checks, houndstooth or pin stripes can cause optical illusions that look bad in video. Avoid pure black and pure white tops, as well as bright oranges and reds. These colors render poorly in video. If you do wear a white shirt, be sure to wear a darker jacket over it. Pay attention to sound as well, and watch out for jewelry that makes noise—like bangle bracelets. 

In the end, you'll want to dress in clothing that makes you feel comfortable and confident, with a nod to these suggestions that will ensure that you look your best in photographs and videos. If you'd like our help with selecting attire for a photo or video shoot, don't hesitate to get in touch


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