What to Wear Guide for Graduates

September 23, 2020

Here’s the 4-1-1

Choosing outfits can be hard. I’ve been photographing people for 7 (maybe even 8?) years now. And, that means that a lotttt of my friends are photographers, too. That also means that I’ve had to “model” for a lotttt of shoots for those photographer friends of mine. And, for a while, it was STRESSFUL. ‘Cause choosing an outfit for the regular day-to-day is tough for me, you know?? So, choosing at outfit that’s gonna be photographed is even TOUGHER. Lucky for you (+ me), I’ve learned a few things over the years. So, I decided to put the things I’ve learned into a handy dandy digital guide.

Here’s the thing though: this is only a GUIDE. Not a rulebook. Not a contract. A GUIDE. That means that you don’t have to follow everything I say. Honestly, I’d rather you show up in sweats and a sweatshirt than a maxi dress and heels if sweats are the thing that makes you feel the most comfy + confident. I just want your photos to feel like YOU. I want your confidence to shine through. So, whatever you decide to wear, just make sure it helps you feel like the boss that you are!

Guidelines if You’re Feeling Lost:

The first thing I want to say before we get started is: Bring options! If you’re feeling iffy about an outfit (or can’t decide between a few), bring your options! I’ll look through what you’ve brought before we start shooting & help pick out what I think’ll best compliment you + the location! Obviously don’t bring your whole closet. I suggest bringing bringing between three and four outfits. Also, feel free to bring different jackets, shoes, hats, + accessories, too!

Keep in mind that if you do bring options + if you do want to do an outfit change some time during the session, we don’t always have the luxury of a secure changing spot close-by. You may have to change in the back of your car! If you’re not cool with that, that’s TOTALLY fine + we can stick to just one outfit!

Make it Make Sense

Have you ever seen a photo and been like, “Something just feels…off”? Like a pic of a girl in a mini dress in the snow. Or, a guy in a full suit with leather dress shoes on the beach? That looked weird, didn’t it? Felt off? Well, it’s ‘cause those outfits don’t make sense for the location! If you’re wanting photos on the sand at the beach, wearing heels probably wouldn’t work (and it wouldn’t be comfy either). So, make sure your outfit MAKES SENSE for the location we’ll be shooting at.

Think about the weather, the background, the ground that you’ll be standing on. Will there be hiking? Will there be sand? Will it be HOT outside (hellllooo SoCal heat waves) or cold? These are ALL things to think about when choosing your outfit.

Not only do you want the outfits to LOOK natural for the location, but you also want them to FEEL natural. Don’t wear a sweater when it’s 85 outside, and don’t feel the need to wear a romper when it’s 50. Make sure you’re comfy and (again) confident!


I’m just gonna say it: neutrals are your best friend. This doesn’t just mean browns and tans and grays. It also means muted colors like mustard yellow, blush pink, burnt orange, forest green. All I’m saying is that bright and fluorescent colors don’t typically photograph very well (cooler colors don’t typically photograph super well either). Not only are they distracting from YOU + the environment we’re shooting in, but they can also cast funky colors onto your skin! And, we definitely do NOT want that.

Let’s talk about the color pink. Earlier I said that blush pink is actually really nice. And, it is. But, it’s really the only pink that I recommend. It’s subtle, adds a small POP of color, but also doesn’t cast a weird pink glow onto your face.

Now, let’s talk about reds. I’ve never been able to rock the color red. I just can’t. And, I PROMISE it isn’t for lack of trying. I finally realized that it’s ‘cause I don’t have the skin tone for it! I definitely have a yellow tint to my skin. So, red just makes me look jaundiced. If you have dark or olive-toned skin, feel free to wear red! If you don’t, try to stay away from reds!


Avoid BIG patterns. Subtle patterns though? YESSSS. See Alex’s sweater that she’s wearing in the pic below? It has a slight waffle knit pattern. It adds some texture, but it doesn’t take away from the real subject of the photo: HER.

That’s exactly what we want patterns to do. We want them to add to the photo, not take something away. So, if you’re trying to decide on a pattern, here are some ideas:

  • Subtle stripes
  • Floral
  • Flannels


This is my favorite thing to talk about. Maybe it’s ‘cause I’m a newly self-proclaimed “hat girl”. Or, maybe it’s just because I like to talk about shoes. Either way, it’s TIME to chat about accessories.

These can add SO much to a look. Whether it’s the perfect pair of shoes, a special ring, a wide-brim hat, or a denim jacket, they add so much extra to a look. And, the really great thing about accessories is they’re easy to put on/take off! So, instead of having to do a FULL outfit change to achieve a new look, all you’ve gotta do is slough off your jacket, plop a hat on your head, etc. I’m allllll about accessories, you guys.

Note: if you have an Apple watch tan, please wear your Apple watch to your session to cover it up. Or, wear a chunky bracelet or long sleeve shirt instead! Tan lines are very hard to edit. I have to outsource them to my editor, which is $25/image.

College Gear

Whether you’re heading to college, graduating from college, or just want to rep your high school varsity jacket, I am HERE. FOR. IT. Personally, I didn’t wear anything school-related for my grad session. But, that was just me!

If you’re wanting to incorporate some school logos into your session, let’s do it! Obviously you won’t want ALL of your photos in your school gear though, so just be sure to bring it to throw on for a few shots! If it’s a sweatshirt, jacket, baseball cap, or t-shirt, that’s pretty easy to just throw on real quick.

Still Have Questions?

Shoot me an email! I can be reached at hello@lizerban.com, and I’m MORE than happy to help you out!