545 N. McClurg Ct., Chicago IL  60611


The clothing you choose for your portrait session is critical to creating a successful portrait. Simple clothing photographs best. Choose clothing that does not attract attention to itself; the most important part of the portrait is you, not your clothing.

When selecting your clothing, consider how the portrait will ultimately be used, or where it will appear or be shown. The style and color of clothing you wear should complement the environment in which your portrait will be hung, the website on which it will appear, or the publication in which it will be printed. If your portrait will be shown in family members' homes, a casual look may be appropriate. If your portrait will be hung in a formal environment or printed in a professional publication, dress for business. Consider the impression you want to create in the environment.

Allow enough time to find the right clothing BEFORE you leave home. After you dress for the portrait, take a good look in a large (preferably full-length) mirror; if you don't think the color or style of clothing flatters your features, try a different shirt, blouse, sweater or jacket. Pay particular attention to the neckline.

General guidelines:

  • Avoid loud patterns and colors; solid colors tend to photograph better than patterns.
  • Avoid solid bright white.
  • Avoid shiny fabrics, reflective buttons, and large and/or reflective jewelry.
  • Medium to dark (including black) clothing creates a timeless look.
  • If being photographed with other people, all subjects should wear clothing of similar tonality, even if actual colors are different. They should also all be similar in level of formality or casualness.
  • Black clothing can photograph beautifully, but when everyone in a group wears black, bodies tend to blend into one another, creating a "floating head" look. It's best to stagger black clothing in groups with grey, blue, or other dark colors.
  • Jeans are OK for a relaxed look, but avoid T-shirts with patterns or large words on the front.
  • Generally, dark backgrounds provide a backdrop that is more pleasing for portraits because it recedes, allowing the subject to be the focus of attention.
  • Adults and teens should wear long sleeves; avoid sleeveless tops (bare arms don't photograph well).
  • Avoid extremely high-collared sweaters or jackets.
  • Bring an extra change of clothing if you aren't sure what to wear (e.g., one casual, one more formal); one style might be more flattering for you in front of the camera.
  • Don't bring/wear wrinkled clothes; the wrinkles WILL show in the final prints.
  • Make sure sleeve and pant lengths aren't too long or too short. Children grow especially quickly, so that shirt that fit your child so well a few months ago may look too small now.
  • Portraits for women: bring face powder to touch up shiny areas on face.
All images ©Theresa Bertocci, Chicago photographer. Reproduction prohibited without written permission.