“What to wear” is typically the first question we’re asked by new clients. It’s a great question and not answering it correctly may have adverse consequences on your ability to appreciate your photos in a decade or ever earn the respect of eventual offspring.

Wear clothes that make you comfortable

There’s nothing more important during a photoshoot than your comfort. If you’re anything like me, just the idea of being in front of the camera is stressful enough. Whatever you’re feeling during the shoot will come through in your photos, so lets start by making sure you’re comfortable in your clothes.

If you’re not comfortable in your clothes your focus will be on your wardrobe and not on the glistening eyes of your betrothed.

Complement Each Other, But Don’t Match

We’ve all noticed couples bold enough to wear matching outfits, and it’s typically followed by the rhetorical question, “I wonder if they’re being ironical?” You both want to share a theme but you don’t want people wondering if you’re fraternal twins recreating poor decisions by your parents.

If you want to be casual, then both of you should be casual. If one of you looks authentic PNW, then both of you should sport flannels, Patagonia, and beards (although in some situations one beard is considered acceptable). Try to find complimentary colors to each other, Pinterest is a great place to find ideas.

Choose Pastels, Cool Colors, and Neutral Tones

Engagement photos are not typically a time to make bold fashion statements – although all rules are made to be broken. By wearing cool colors and neutral tones you keep the focus on both of you and not your fashion choices.

Incorporate at Least One Accessory

Since you’re limited in appropriate colors, incorporate your style through the accessories you adorn. Scarfs, hats, necklaces, bracelets, rings, holsters, or earrings, are all great options. They can offer hints of your personality without overpowering the photo.

Wear Clothes Appropriate For Your Location

If you’re taking photos in Pioneer Square then bring your hipster chic to the party, heading to Kirkland’s Marina Park then dress it up for a breezy waterfront scene, thinking about photos in your home – match the decor with something comparable.

The key thing is to avoid anything that creates cognitive dissonance. Seeing him in shorts with a snowbank behind him will raise eyebrows and may cause potential in-laws to question your collective judgement.

Stick With Two Outfits

For the sake of time, each other, and your photographer, limit your outfits to two (assuming this is a standard 1-2 hour shoot). Leverage your time with the photographer to maximize the number of photos they take. Good engagement photographers won’t be counting the number of photos they capture so do whatever you can to keep the shutter clicking. It’s a numbers game – the more photos captured, the higher the number of flattering portraits.

Patterns Are Great, Under a Top Layer

A man’s shirt with a check pattern and bold colors can look great…under a sweater or vest. Sneak in as much pattern as you like until it becomes to much. “How much is too much,” you ask? If the pattern of your shirt, pants, dress, skirt, is the first thing someone notices about your outfit then it’s too much. You want comments such as, “I love your hair” “your brows are on fleek” “Your makeup looks perfect”. These are all comments indicating an emphasis on your face rather than your fashion.

Classic Looks Are Always in Style

Wearing trendy styles limits how long you’ll appreciate your engagement photos. Five years from now people will know what year you were engaged by your choice of stripes, blocking, or animal print. Instead, find classic styles that match your personality and compliment your body-type.

Don’t allow the above suggestions scare you away from being bold, just remember the most important accessory you’ll wear during your shoot is your smile.