What to Wear for Your Paris Photoshoot

What to wear for Paris photoshoot

So, you have hired a Paris photographer for a photo session as part of your overall Paris experience. What you wear will set the tone and feel of your Paris photoshoot and the result of the photographs. Something timeless and classic will ensure that you will love your photos for a long time. When you dress beautifully, you will feel beautiful and will move like a beauty.

Therefore, planning ahead of time for your Paris photoshoot outfit will ensure that you are prepared and feel confident for the occassion. Give yourself time to look for inspiration, think of the type of outfits that best reflects who you are, colours, whether to go for formal or informal outfits or a mix of both.

Planning ahead will also enable you to order your outfits, wait for shipping, try them out and clean if needed.

Here are somethings to consider when planning on what to wear for your Paris photoshoot:

1. Photoshoot location

Paris photoshoot location
Paris photoshoot location at the Notre Dame

Most iconic locations (except for the gardens) in Paris are made up of off-white, grey and beige backgrounds. Hence, you’d want to stand out in your photographs with the landscape being a supporting role to the story you’d like to tell rather than blending in with the beautiful Parisian backdrops.

Paris’ iconic landscapes support bold colours with the following types of outfits pretty well:

  • Smart urban outfits (think structured, clean line dresses, jackets, coats and trousers)
  • Vintage outfits (think cocktail dresses, suits for men, throw in the bow tie also)
  • Glamorous outfits (think gowns, black tie outfits, fitted suits for men)

Classy and timeless are what you’d ideally like to aim for to make the most of this city’s romantic and opulent ambiance.

2. Outfit colours

Be mindful of matching outfits to the exact colours when doing a family or couple photoshoot. Different hues and tones of a colour block works best, rather than matching everyone with the exact same colour. This gives harmony and interest to the eyes. These families and couples above have got it en pointe!

If you’re having an individual portrait session with outfit changes, be thoughtful about your album having a cohesive colour feel to it. Unless of course, you’re going for different vibes at different locations.

I recommend bright or light colours. You can wear black or white if you wish, however colours in general look more attractive in photographs.

On the other hand, if you have statement pieces in black and white with textures and ornaments, bring them to Paris! Your photographs will have an editorial / magazine-like feel to them.

Outfits to wear for your Paris photoshoot
Outfits to wear for your Paris photoshoot
Outfits to wear for your Paris photoshoot

Avoid fussy checks and prints if you can. If you have printed motifs/patterns on your clothing, your partner’s outfit should ideally have no prints. Kerry and Stephanie in the photos below nailed it with having pattern on one of their outfits. Stephanie wore a patterned skirt on a monochrome themed outfit with just the perfect amount of colour pop from Kerry’s tie.

They changed to casual outfits for their second session. Their outfit coordination were again spot on, striped shirt for him, plain outfit for her this time.

Planning outfits for your Paris photoshoot

Another consideration for your choice of outfits is how you will be using your photographs? Are they going to be printed out as coffee table books or are they going to be framed on the walls of your home? If the latter, choose outfit colours that goes with the overall colour theme of your home decor too.

3. Dress according to seasons

Dressing according to seasons for your Paris photoshoot
Dress for your Paris photoshoot according to the seasons

Embrace the seasons in Paris and dress appropriately for the weather. You don’t want to look awkward and ill fitting to the ambiance and environment. Comfort is key in looking naturally good for your photos.

Layer on the cosy knits and faux fur stoles for winter and fall. Use deep colour tones of red, purple, oranges, yellow and browns in your tailored coats. Knee or thigh high boots will keep your legs and toes toasty too.

In cold seasons, it is okay to have gloves on your hands and scarves around your necks. It is unattractive to have red and goose pimpled skin from the cold.

Dressing according to seasons for your Paris photoshoot
Dress according to seasons for your Paris photoshoot

Light flowing dresses and floral prints work well for the spring and summer seasons. I advice to go for closed toe shoes and heels if you can walk in them. Statement necklaces, bracelets and ear rings are a great addition to elegant soft flowing dresses.

4. Dress according to your body type

Outfits to wear for your Paris photoshoot
Dressing according to body type for your Paris photoshoot

Why struggle into a tight dress that only makes you look like a squeezed sausage?

Oh! you can photoshop that out right? Yes at a hefty extra cost! No photographers like to be desk bound performing digital liposuction on parts of your body just because you have picked an ill fitting outfit to wear. I can guarantee swear words under the breath!

4a. Know your body type

Know your body type and pick something that is flattering. Importantly, in your size. Not smaller or bigger, but your size.

If you are someone who is conscious of your untoned upper arms (like me), wear a dress with sleeves. If you are completely in love with a bare all shoulder dress, then let you photographer know that you want your arms shown discreetly. Your photographer should be able to post you accordingly. Tell him / her before your Paris photoshoot begins.

Clean structured A lined dresses or tulip shaped skirts that are banded around the waist go will suit the pear body shapes (bottom heavy). There shouldn’t be ruffles or pleats. You want to draw attention away from your hips, so avoid tight fitting skirts or dresses that hug your hips. Get a push up bra to add volume at the top to give a curvy illusion if you have small busts. Boat or scoop necklines broaden your shoulders.

For an apple shaped body type (top heavy with undefined waistline), high waistline, empire waist or A line dresses are the best. This means dresses that flows downwards from the bust. Avoid clingy materials. Wear plunging or v necklines that highlights your bust. No halter necks, big necklaces or ornaments at the top of your clothings.

Wikihow.com has a detailed post on how to dress for your body shape even shoe type advice. Give it a read and apply!

5. Consider renting your outfits for the photoshoot

A cost effective way to look great is to rent the looks you love. You can get some formal and informal wears from Rent the Runway and Le Tote. It will be less expensive if you sought out rental places local to where you live.

In Paris, you can rent Parisian looks from high end designers at Mabonneamie, if you don’t want the hassle to travelling with a big or bulky gown. Axelle Bonamy, this rental store owner is able to style you upon request.

Ezpopsy and Nordstrom are great places to buy inexpensive pieces too.

6. Undergarments

The right and comfortable undergarments will support your overall look. Bra straps hanging out of your sleeveless dress or under the armpits of a strapless dress is not classy. If you have these kind of dresses or tops, get a strapless bra that holds well. You shouldn’t need to pull your bra up every few steps you take.

VPLs (visible panty lines) are no-nos. Seamless undergarments may not be the sexiest, but who wants portraits with unattractive VPLs showing?

Just like your dress size, your undergarment size matters. When you see unsightly back fat or spilling muffin top bulges, this means that your undergarments are too small for you. This will be a good occasion to get a professional fitting done at your local departmental store. Professional undergarment fittings are usually free from most established stores.

7. Dressing for the gentlemen

It’s quite easy for the gentlemen.

Wear good fitted suits teamed with smart looking stiff collared shirts. You can use a tie or bow tie. A hankie for the suit jacket will add a nice touch. Cuff links for a discreet detail. Always remember to wear a belt.

If you are planning to wear jeans, please ensure that they are a good fit for you and cleaned. You can team the look up with a well-cut blazer/jacket too.

If you are planning to go with floral trousers like Daniel here, keep the dapper look in mind like he did.

For colder climes, nicely cut wool jackets/coats and pulls/cardigans over a smart collared shirt will do nicely too.

Lastly, remember to polish your shoes.

8. Details to add for your photoshoot

Add meaningful details to your Paris photoshoot
Add meaningful details to your Paris photoshoot

Details help to tell your overall story, aside from dressing for a timeless look.

Use your Paris photo session to peek into your love story with details such as your engagement ring (a must), meaningful gifts you have given to each other over time such as ear rings, cufflinks, bow tie from that bespoke boutique, that scarf from your first holiday together, that necklace from that flea market or grandmother, those expensive shoes he bought for you, anything that injects personality into your love story.

Remember to tell your photographer about these things so that they get special attention in your Paris photos too.

9. Hair and make up to complete your look

One of the nice things about Paris is that you can go “au natural” and still look great, for it is the vibe of this city.

However, if you are going for a vintage or glamorous dressing, hair and make up will help augment and complete the look. I suggest using a professional hair and make up artist.

If you decide to do your own make up, try to use products formulated for photography. Photo make up products are best to diffuse light and give your face a softer dreamier look.

Also use make up that are weather appropriate. The height of summer in Paris can be a melting pot. You do not want runny mascara or foundation that starts to shine and melt on your face.

In summary:

The above are suggestions and ideas. Wear things that make you happy, confident and comfortable. Dressing according to your personality and style is best whilst keeping the “smart look” in check. Even in black.

What to wear for your Paris photoshoot
Dressing for your Paris photoshoot

Choose classic over trending styles. You’d like your photographs in Paris for longer and more when they are timeless and classy.

Consider a second outfit for just in case situations. I’ve had a client who unfortunately tripped and ripped her pretty long dress on the stairs before exiting the hotel. Fortunately, she had planned a spare “just in case” dress for her photoshoot. Wise lady. She did have pain on her sheen and ankles during the photoshoot. I gave her ample of time and space during the session but I’m happy that she’s okay and not stressed out about looking good.

I hope you have found this blog post useful. Please happily share them with your family and friends who are visiting Paris or having a photoshoot done.

And if you’d like a Paris photoshoot for yourself, I’d love to help you out. Just get in touch!

Shantha xx

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Shantha delaunay

Paris photographer for loved up couples & sassy individuals