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What to Wear For Senior Pictures | Columbus, Ohio Senior Photographer

Updated: Aug 25, 2022

As a high school senior, you’re probably starting to think about planning your senior photos. And specifically what to wear for senior pictures.


This blog provides plenty of senior picture outfit ideas with photo examples for all genders.


I'm covering what to wear to showcase your personality, casual photos, formal photos, highlighting your heritage, and how to include school and sports uniforms.


But that’s not all. I'm covering tips for layers, colors, patterns, accessories, shoes, undergarments, hair, makeup, and nails. We’re covering it all!


By the end of the post, you’ll be well on your way to planning amazing senior photos!


Ready for some inspo? Read on!


various photos of columbus ohio seniors showing what to wear for senior picutres blog



How to Infuse Personality and Style In Your Senior Photos


Your senior photos are not the time to have a cookie-cutter experience. They’re a time for you to celebrate a huge milestone while showcasing your personality and style!


So how is that achieved? Great question!


You can make your senior photos really stand out by including favorite clothing items and props that showcase your hobbies. Don’t be afraid to show some personality - embrace it!


photos of a high school senior holding her professional camera for senior pictures in columbus ohio studio
Take one guess what her hobby is? Hint: It's my favorite thing too!


Graphic t-shirts can add personality to a casual look!


Can you tell Sadie is a HUGE David Bowie fan? And Madison chose to wear her future college shirt, Capital University!


The graphic t-shirts aren't the focal point of the photos, but it highlights their personalities. While the words "Senior Photos" and "T-Shirts" don't seem to go together, trust me: adding a few photos in your favorite t-shirt can be meaningful and fun!


two photos of high school seniors wearing graphic t-shirts for casual senior pictures



photo of high school senior wearing snowgear and posing with his snowboard at Highbanks Metro Park for senior pictures

CJ is such an adventure-seeking guy that we knew his senior session needed something special to match! These snowboarding photos captured him in action doing an activity he loves!



Other Ideas to Show Your Personality in Senior Photos:

  • Props to show your hobbies (musical instruments, books, art supplies, camera, or dance uniform)

  • School or sports uniforms (mentioned further down in detail)

  • Colorful wardrobe pieces (colorful shoes, ties, or shirts)

  • Graphic T-Shirts (Yes, it’s worth mentioning again)

  • Include a family pet

  • Bring a best friend!

  • Go to your favorite outdoor location for props (like the rainbow bench below!)


photo of high school senior posing on rainbow bench for senior pictures in worthington ohio - lgbtq friendly senior photographer


Whatever makes you YOU - plan to include that into your senior pictures!




What to Wear for Casual Senior Pictures


The first thing that comes to mind when I think about casual senior pictures is a favorite pair of jeans and your best top. You can’t go wrong with wearing your favorites!


portrait of high school senior wear white button up shirt and jeans for casual senior photos in columbus ohio studio

Kayla has had multiple photo sessions with me over the years. For two sessions, she wore her same favorite pair of jeans. When you love something this much, wear it - especially if you feel comfortable in it!



Casual wardrobe examples:

  • Sundress and sandals

  • Halter top with shorts and sandals

  • Maxi dress and sandals

  • Rompers with fun sneakers

  • Jumpsuits with strappy sandals

  • Jeans and a graphic t-shirt

  • Jeans and a solid-colored t-shirt

  • Jeans paired with an unbuttoned shirt

  • Khakis or shorts with a polo shirt


photos of a blonde high school senior showing what to wear for senior pictures - she's in a sunflower field wearing a brown top and khaki shorts

photo of girls wearing ripped jeans for casual senior pictures in columbus ohio

photos of two senior girls wearing sundresses for casual senior pictures




What to Wear for Formal Senior Pictures


The word “formal” feels a bit stuffy, doesn’t it? So when most high school seniors hear the words “formal senior portraits,” they tend to think of boring headshots. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.


Think about formal senior photos as a fancy, modernized headshot. These photos are perfect for high school yearbooks, college applications, grandparents, and even young adults starting their professional careers to use on a LinkedIn profile! (You'll look professional before everyone else is even thinking about it.)


While they’re a little more modern, they’re far from boring. Some wardrobe suggestions are listed below.


Formal wardrobe examples:

  • Off the shoulders shirts create an elegant look

  • Fitted business pants with a nice blouse

  • Blazers are IN! Pair it with a nice shirt or blouse

  • Suit jackets with a nice button-up shirt

  • Formal dress - prom or homecoming dress

  • Graduation cap and gown


what to wear for senior pictures - two girls wearing off the shoulders black shirts
Off the shoulders look great for more formal senior pictures

photo of high school seniors wearing their cap and gowns for senior photos
Commemorate the year by wearing your cap and gown!


A pattern I’ve been seeing is that some clients love an outfit but almost don’t bring it.



Brenna had this stunning lavender prom dress. She said she almost didn’t bring it but was glad she did because she loved the final results.


senior portrait of a blonde hair girl wearing a lavender color prom dress for senior pictures
Want great photos of a dress you wore once? Bring it along!



Are these examples of senior photos formal? Technically, yes.


But are these photos boring? Not at all.


The takeaway: Wear something a little fancier than you’d typically wear in your day-to-day life. You may love the results!




Embrace Your Heritage with Symbolic Wardrobe Pieces


If you come for a particular heritage with traditional clothing, you may want to embrace it in your photos.


Sasha wore this woman’s barong from the Philippines. It’s gorgeous, unique, and has significant sentimental value to her and her family.


If you have something sentimental, maybe a watch or piece of jewelry, I suggest wearing it for a couple of photos. The sentimental item paired with a portrait will mean a lot to you one day.






School and Sports Uniforms


I usually get mixed feedback from clients when I mention wearing school or sports uniforms. Most seniors think, “What’s the use? I’m almost done with this activity or sport anyway.”


But consider wearing them for one last hurrah!


Even though it’s your last year of high school, it’s also an opportunity to recognize your passion for an activity or sport. The photos will be great to look back on in a few years' time, and the sentimental value will only grow more each year.


I say, "Go for it!" Wear the uniforms, especially if they played a huge role in your high school career.


what to wear for senior pictures - school uniforms. Photo shows a girl in a cheer uniform, and a guy in a band uniform.



Layers, Colors, and Patterns


Layers

While layering can add bulk, if done well, it can also add visual interest - so try it out!


Great layering options:

Denim jacket

School jacket

Cardigan

Blazer

Open button-down shirt

Flannel over a t-shirt

Hoodie




photos of girls in westerville ohio posing for senior photos in hoodies and jeans
Hoodies and jackets make great layering options!



Colors

You can’t go wrong with the basics - black, white, and tan. But on the flip side, if you’re a bright and colorful person, don’t be afraid to wear bright colors in your senior photos!


Grace wore a bright yellow shirt for some of her senior photos, which contrasted beautifully with her dark skin!





Patterns

If you’re feeling adventurous and want to add some fun patterned clothes, go for it!


Make sure the patterns aren’t too distracting, or it can take away how nice everything else looks.


These fun patterned shirts show some personality!





Accessories, Shoes, and Undergarments


Accessories

Accessories are a great way to dress up or dress down an outfit to make it go from basic to stunning!


Some accessories to consider:

Oversized hats

Jewelry (to match each outfit)

Scarfs

Sunglasses

Ties

Jackets


senior photos of two girls wearing sunglasses as accessories
I love that these two wanted to wear sunglasses for their senior pictures!

senior portrait of a girl wearing a white sundress in a sunflower field outside columbus ohio
Jewelry can add beautiful details to a polished senior portrait!


Shoes and Socks

Coordinating shoes and socks are important! Don’t skip this part when planning what to wear.


Plan every outfit as if your shoes and socks will show. They won’t always be in the photos, but when they are, they need to coordinate with your outfit.


Want your shoes to be part of a statement piece to a photo - wear them! It’ll help highlight your personality and style!





Undergarments


While I am not a natural expert in this category, I did reach out to a few female senior photographers for their advice. They totally agreed with me that while it might seem like the last thing to worry about, a mismatched bra can be just distracting enough that you'll later say, "I wish I hadn't worn that one."


If you look up and down this post, you'll see such variety in the tops. And so many of them work well because the seniors had undergarments that worked. I want to make sure that you have the same!


Here's the advice my photographer friends had for my seniors:


There are two things to consider with undergarment planning: color and fabrics.


Color:

Wear nude or skin-toned undergarments. Or coordinate to match the color of your clothing.


Fabric:

Consider wearing a seamless bra and underwear to avoid bulk and underwire bulges showing through tighter clothing.


Strapless Bras:

Wear strapless or backless bras for sleeveless or backless shirts and dresses. Again, since this isn’t my area of expertise, I had some help creating the list below. It’s a compilation of everyone's favorites, and they’ve received great client feedback!


Pasties (For when a bra isn’t needed, but you want more coverage for your comfort.)



*This post contains affiliate links, so I may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on our site at no additional cost to you.I only share and promote products/services/businesses that I have actually used and that believe could be beneficial to you.




Hair, Makeup, and Nails

In addition to planning your wardrobe choices, it’s also a good idea to schedule appointments you may need leading up to your big day! For girls, this might be a professional hair and makeup appointment.


Hair

If you have professional hair and makeup, I suggest a trial run (similar to what brides do before their wedding day.)


For girls that want two different hairstyles, like Brenna, plan that into your session ahead of time.


This could look like doing indoor photos with one hairstyle, taking a break for lunch (and next hairstyle), then meeting back up for outdoor photos.


Straight hair or wavy? How about both! With careful planning, you can have this too!


Makeup & Oil Control

Makeup can be applied a little darker for photos. It won’t look overly done in pictures.


To avoid oil and shine, grab some oil-absorbing sheets to swipe over your face from time to time during your session. This goes for people of all genders! You can find them at any local drugstore.



Nails

For nails, I suggest bare nails or light natural color that will match most of your wardrobe choices. If you want painted nails, make sure they’re freshly painted. There’s nothing more distracting than a close-up portrait with messy nails.


If you work with anything that causes you to have dirty nails regularly, try to get your nails as clean as possible (and give them a trim) before your photos. The small details make a big difference in the final images.


close up senior portrait of girl in a columbus ohio portrait studio
Clean nails make all the difference when hands are shown in portraits. Don't skip taking care of your hands.



Final Tips on What to Wear for Senior Pictures


Planning ahead is my biggest piece of advice when choosing what to wear for senior pictures.


Once you have everything ready, style each outfit from head to toe, including accessories and shoes. Pay close attention to the shoes, socks, and undergarments needed for each wardrobe set. And steam or iron clothes before picture day. Wrinkles can distract in an otherwise perfect photo!


Finally, my biggest piece of advice: be yourself and have fun with your senior pictures. Don’t wear anything you feel uncomfortable in, because it will show. A forced outfit will result in forced photos. Wear your favorites, show your style, and get ready to have fun!


what to wear for senior pictures - collage of columbus ohio senior photos with examples of what to wear


If you’re in Ohio and looking for a senior photographer, I’d love to help create senior portraits that are uniquely you!



The perks of working with me:

  • We can do indoor and outdoor photos - no extra charge

  • Include a friend or pet - no extra charge

  • Bring your family for a family photo - no extra charge

  • Unlimited outfit changes. Bring extra clothes; it could give you your favorite shot!

  • Want two hair looks? No problem. We can plan the day accordingly, so you get both!

  • No time limit. We photograph until we’ve created all the looks you want!




Want more tips on what to wear for senior photos? Check out this blog of Madison’s senior session.

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