Beauty Retouching & Photography Education

21 Ideas For What To Wear To A Photo Shoot

A few weeks ago in Moscow my fellow-artist  Irina Rudova (one of the top 10 fashion makeup artists of Russia, Makeup Art Awards 2011) showed me an article, which she and her photographers send to their models and clients to help choose clothing for photo shoots (when clothing designers are not involved in the production). I thought it was pretty neat and very helpful especially for new photographers who mainly shoot with non-models and don’t have stylists to dress their models on set.

The article was in Russian, so I am going to translate it here and add some comments from me (marked). The author – Moscow photographer Ilia Rashap – uses a lot of reference images, and unfortunately there are no credits, so I am going to just re-link those photos, and add some more that I think illustrate these ideas well. None of the photos below are mine (except for the one that has my watermark on it), they are used in this post for illustration purposes only and are all linked to the source pages. 

In his original post Ilia is talking to models, so I am going to keep that in my translation.

These are the types of outfits and accessories that (Moscow) photographers recommend their clients/models to bring to their photo sessions when there’s no wardrobe designer available on set and when clothing is not the focus of the photo shoot.  Please feel free to send a link to this post to your clients/models when they ask you what to bring to a shoot.


1. Please keep in mind that often what you think looks great in everyday life might not look as great in photos.

2. The more outfits, shoes and accessories you can bring to the studio the better. Give your photographer more options and you will end up getting better images out of your photo shoot.

3. JULIA: My no-no’s are cotton t-shirts or any cotton outfit if its colors are washed out and lost their vividness. Any lint or fuzz on it – please leave it at home.

4. If you are a working pro model or just an aspiring model who participates in photo shoots very often, find the time to get all your “photo” outfits out of your closet and take pictures of yourself wearing every piece (in the mirror), or just lay them out on your bed (better on you and in the mirror, though). Then upload them all into an album on the web, so you can always send the link to it to your photographer and he or she will pick what to bring to your shoot. Not only you will have to pack and carry less stuff, your  photographer will be able to pre-visualize your looks in advance.

5. You will need some outfits even if you’re shooting nudes – implied nudes often look even sexier, so you might as well give it a chance, so do bring something.

6. Your outfits are there to be a part of your look, not to be the main part of the image, so keep that in mind.


Anything that you can open up, drop off your shoulder, low-cut garments, etc.

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Read more…


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Semi-transparent, see-through tops and dresses:

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Outfits with simple geometric patterns often look great. Those patterns and figures, however, should not be overbearing, just clean and simple. Stripes, crinkled fabric, polka dots and so on.

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 WARNING! Leopard pattern dresses/tops/whatever have nothing to do with all said above!

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Everything that is not baggy will look flattering on a slender figure. Molded & trumpet gowns, pencil skirts, etc.

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Interesting, pointed collars on blouses, jackets will look great as well.

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And the opposite style to add variety to your looks would be casual, boyish – that looks hot!
Especially if you add sleek boyish hairdo with side parting.

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But don’t search too hard for something very special, often the simplest garments out of your dresser will be perfect:


NOTE: Please don’t bring miniskirts. They almost always look vulgar in photos. Bring above the knee skirts, sale skirts, pencil skirts, to the knee skirts, maxi skirts, but not miniskirts.




If you have some vintage garments, something original or  exclusively made by a fashion designer – that’s awesome! But since it’s very important for the photographer to be on the same page with you about such looks, just let him or her know and discuss details in advance.

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Anything knitted or with lace always looks cool! (JULIA: just make sure the colors are not washed out and there’s no lint on the garment).

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If water is going to be involved in the shoot, make sure you bring clothing that can get wet without getting damaged. Anything that will stick to your skin when wet is great. And, well, don’t forget to bring a towel! (JULIA: says that in Towelie’s voice)

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This is simple – it must be sexy! Note that matching panties/bra sets are not sexy, they are too simple. Your photos most likely will look like a lingerie ad. Bring beautiful lace nightgowns, chemises, corsets, stockings, garter belts and all sorts of vintage and pseudo-vintage lingerie.

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Bring everything you have – they add that special touch to any look. (JULIA: washed out colors are fine in some cases, but lint, little holes with runs – nah!) 

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Additional interesting props & accessories are always great! Look around, dig in your treasure chests in the attic. Any interesting glasses (regular or sunglasses), hats, ribbons (JULIA: wigs, gloves, belts, masks, any neat shiny thingies) – bring them all!

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I always recommend my clients to pick tops, blouses and dresses that are made of silky, shiny, shimmering fabrics – such garments always look great in photos. They reflect light better than cotton fabrics, and help add depth and contrast to the images. Shadows look much darker than the lit parts of such outfits, so ditch your cotton top and bring the one that shines like a million stars.

Remember, that things that you would wear to work should stay home, and things that you would wear to a wild party should come to your photo shoot with you 🙂

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Bring all funky, chunky, elegant, vivid, shiny, original stuff you have: necklaces, bracelets, earrings, rings. Jewelry and accessories are very important and add so much to female portraits, make them sophisticated and eye-catching.

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21.  SHOES! (Thanks Sam!)

Make sure to chat with your photographer about what type of shoes you need to bring. If you’re shooting beauty, you might not need any, but definitely ask your photographer about it!



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  • Joseph

    thnx julia!

  • Nice guide! Thank you for that.
    It would be nice , as a future post and help for us, try to arrange a similar guide for male photography 🙂 I would be more than appreciated ))

    • Thank you Rafa!
      I don’t shoot with male models or clients, I can’t teach what I don’t have much experience with myself.


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