This is the second installation of the Style Guide, and this time it’s focused on women. Last time, I wrote about men’s style and popping color in his outfit because typically, the guy plays it safe. For this edition of the style guide, I wanted to provide some ideas for how she can compliment his outfit with two versions for each category of outfit. As the names convey, the “Understated” look is going to have more neutral colors, with the pops happening in the accessories and shoes/jackets, while the “Lively” look has more bold color palettes and combinations, linking to “his style” selection. Again, as with the previous guide, these are all ideas and ways to compliment and augment a style chosen. For my same-sex couples, you can take these ideas and cross them over into the appropriate gendered style you wish. And just in case there’s any confusion, all styles and photos are taken from the JCrew website, but I am not in anyway encouraging strictly JCrew style and clothing. I thought it would be interesting to challenge myself to one brand, versus multiple brands. It shows that you can make combinations that work together, even if not shopping for new clothing. Look at your closet with a new perspective, and see what interesting combinations you can create to augment your engagement session fashion style.
The first look is the Semi-Casual. For the “Understated” look, I went with two options of outfit – a neutral beige mid-thigh dress or a high-waist pencil skirt with a striped shirt. These are two very good neutral palettes to work with. I then looked at his outfit. The colors are bright, and predominately warmer. I thought it would be interested to pop the blues in his shirt with her shoes, since those appear to be the more secondary colors. The bracelet is multi-colors, and has hues of both the warm and the cool colors in his shirt, and links the two outfits together. For the “Lively” look, I thought it would be interesting to really pop the warm colors in his shirt with her mid-thigh dress. I contrasted her dress with a lime-green translucent necklace, and then toned down the ensemble slightly with a neutral jacket and shoes. By including the jackets in both of their looks, I have created the option of another “look” by simply removing the jacket during the session.
For the Dressy look, I went with a staple in any woman’s closet for the “Understated” – the Little Black Dress. I paired it with gold accessories to provide a little bling to the outfit, but left it pretty much neutral. I would ensure the neutrals in his vest are an exact match to the dress, as a navy and black pairing looks a bit off when photographed. With the “Lively” look, I went for a really big pop of color, putting her in a bright pink dress, which hints as the light pink shirt in his outfit. I then added a black blazer to bring the boldness of the dress down slightly, but paired the outfit with metallic silver shoes and a silver rhinestone necklace to finish off the look. The “Lively” outfit really makes a statement against his outfit, but also links the two outfits together.
The third look is the Jeans and T-Shirt look. The “Understated” side plays with the solid blocks of color. With both wearing dark denim and bright tops, the green sweater (in her hands) is a nice combination and can be removed during this part of the session. The gold bracelets add a pop of bling to her wrist, but otherwise, this is a simple, yet effective outfit for a a jeans and t-shirt portion. You will notice that even for the most casual look, I still chose a wedged heal, because it is a great look and still appears casual. It is my opinion that a woman should rarely not be in heels during a photo session. Unless you absolutely, never, EVER wear heels, or if you are trying to mitigate a height difference with your partner, heels should be worn during a portrait session. They elongate the legs and create a nice finishing line to any woman’s body. Height is up to you, but I typically like to see 3-4 inches for the heel. For the “Lively” look, I chose a bright teal patterned top, and accented the overall outfit with the color of his shirt – the scarf and red wedge.
The final pairing is for the Casual look. For “Understated,” I again went with a very neutral color palette, but based off of his colors. I chose a grey heal to offset the rest of the color palette. For the “Lively” look, I put her in a tank top in a lighter color of blue, accented by a yellow sweater top and electric blue mini-wedge. I’ll be honest, this pairing gave me the most difficulty. Oh, and don’t do those shades. Just…don’t.
I often will cut my own hair. My hair has never been a big deal to me. Sometimes, I will shave it off, and other times I will do a modified mohawk. Other times, I will try to make it look like I went to a salon, but in all honesty, I couldn’t afford it at that moment and really needed a haircut. Yesterday, as I was cutting my own hair with clippers, this blog post popped into my head. I knew Brandon, my stylist at Robert Jeffrey in Chicago, would call me out in an instance and berate me for cutting my own hair or going to Supercuts. He’s a professional stylist, and his work proves it. I go to him and I know he’ll make me look good. But he’s got a price point that makes him a luxury item at times, not an every day service.
So there I am, staring into the bathroom mirror while I use clippers without a guard to fade a buzzed side into the top, which I kept relatively the same length. As I’m contorting my body to see the back of my head, and hoping that I don’t have a muscle twitch that sends the clippers into the top of my scalp, I began thinking…you get what you pay for. With Brandon, I would be guaranteed a haircut that is not messed up. If I cut my own hair, I walk down the street wondering if I cut the back at an angle. Then I realized, this really does cross over to my wedding photography. I get plenty of calls from people stating I am out of their price point, they are doing a really budget conscious event, they can’t spend $XXXX on their wedding photography, etc. Some – like me with my haircut – claim they will have it done “themselves.” In this instance, that means a friend, family member or newbie photographer. I’ve been told that they love my images, and they are certain I would capture their day beautifully, “but my cousin just bought a professional camera at Best Buy and said he would photograph my wedding for $1,000!” I always send them off with well wishes, and make a point to say that I hope the individual they choose can capture their day as it should be photographed. There’s a really good chance that the cousin will take sub-par wedding images, and unfortunately, there is no “undo” button for life’s errors.
I have found the most frequent question I am asked during the time leading up to the engagement session is what should you wear. So I am going to make a couple blog posts about my various ideas for what to wear during a portrait session. Safe outfits are just that — safe. Often times, the hardest person to style is the guy, because let’s be honest, girls have many more options. While this posting is primarily for guys, the concepts cross over to women too. So for my lady couples, consider the idea of popping colors in various ways, from blazers to blouses, button downs to tees. The concept of a color pop will still benefit you well, and heck, why not throw a tie into the mix and play with expectations, just for fun.
I was asked by CS Brides to photograph an independent event being hosted by one their clients, Maggiano’s. Here are a couple shots from the event. If you should be interested in any of the vendors featured in any of the images, I can get some information for you.