Dress to Impress: The Ultimate Guide to Perfect Black & White Portrait Attire

What to/not to wear for B&W portraits

Planning outfits for your black-and-white portrait session? Let’s talk options.

In the art of black-and-white photography, choosing your clothing is an exciting part of creating captivating portraits. Without the distraction of color, the viewer’s attention is immediately drawn to your expressions–to your eyes and face. While you and the ones you love are undoubtedly the main focus, your clothing plays a supporting yet integral role in the storytelling process. Through texture, silhouette, and style, your attire conveys personality, emotion, and character, adding depth to your portrait. The best part? You can wear your favorite outfits without worrying about matching colors! So, while you are the most important part of the portrait session, keep in mind that what you’re wearing does have an impact on the overall composition and feel of your black and white portraits.

Choosing your outfit isn’t just about looking good for the camera; it’s also about making sure your portrait stands the test of time and feels like you. Oftentimes, your wall portraits become something you want to keep in your home and your family forever. Your look tells a story, showing off your personality and style in every fabric and fold. Is your family more casual, living in jeans? Do you wear boots and hats? Or, do you love to dress up? Do you want to remember this moment in time while wearing your “Sunday Best,” or more dressy attire? Or are you into combat boots and tutus? Whatever your style, when deciding on outfits for your portrait session, take a moment to consider what look you all want to have.With the right outfit, you can turn your portrait into a timeless masterpiece, brimming with your personality and style.

The Importance of Attire in Black & White Portraits

In black-and-white photography, you have so many options for what to wear. Your attire enhances the aesthetic appeal of the portrait, contributing to its timeless quality. Here’s how your clothing choices can truly make a statement and reflect your style in your black and white portraits.

Enhanced Contrast

Black and white portraits rely heavily on contrast to create depth and interest. Clothing with contrasting tones  help create strong visual compositions and emphasize important elements within the portrait. When thinking of wearing white, consider wearing pastels instead, which photograph more softly, such as ivory, light gray, pink and lavender. When choosing dark saturated solids, black is classic white navy and jewel tones all work beautifully as well.

Emotional Tone

Clothing choices can convey a certain mood or emotion in a portrait. For example, formal attire might evoke a sense of elegance and sophistication, while casual clothing can convey a more relaxed and approachable vibe. Both styles photograph beautifully in our portrait studio. To set the tone emotionally, think about the mood you want to convey in your portrait. For a stately and refined vibe, choose polished fabrics and classic silhouettes. If you’re aiming for a more approachable feel, opt for comfortable and casual attire in softer tones. (Think jeans and sweaters or jeans with long sleeved shirts.) Every portrait session at our studio has time built in for you to change clothes, so consider wearing two “looks” or outfits to cover two different aesthetics and styles in your black-and-white portraits.

Personal Expression

The clothing you wear in a portrait is a glimpse into your and your family’s unique personality, spirit, and identity. No two families are alike. To express your personality more fully through clothing, focus on pieces that speak to you and what you love. Choose garments that you feel comfortable and confident in, reflecting your unique tastes and preferences. Incorporate elements such as understated patterns, textures like tweed, corduroy or sweaters  and classic accessories that  add a personal touch to your portrait.


Black and white portraits inherently have a timeless quality that transcends trends and fads. To maintain the timeless allure of black and white portraits, you may want to steer clear of fleeting fashion trends that could date the image. Opt for enduring wardrobe pieces that you incorporate year after year, guaranteeing your portraits remain beautiful for years to come. When choosing between loose fitting or fitted attire, it may seem counterintuitive, but fitted silhouettes always flatter you most and photograph best. (especially when you feel you are not at your fittest.)

Crafting your look.

Overall, selecting the right attire for black and white portraits can help in achieving stunning results that accurately reflect the individual’s personality and style while enhancing the overall aesthetic appeal and emotional impact of the portrait. But choosing your clothing need not be overwhelming or stressful..

While there aren’t any hard and fast rules about what to wear for black and white portraits, it’s worth noting that by favoring  factors like structured fabric, textures, solid colors, and a more simple or classic style, you can be sure your portraits will pop with personality and charm. 

But don’t worry, there’s no need to stress – we’re here to guide you through the process and discover the ideal ensemble that photographs best and that truly reflects your style!

What to wear.

Solid Colors

Solid colors are a safe bet for black-and-white portraits as they tend to photograph well and create a strong impact. Opting for solid hues eliminates the potential for clashing and allows the focus to remain on you and yours, enhancing the overall composition of the portrait.


Textures are crucial in adding depth and interest to black-and-white photography. Fabrics like knits, lace, or tweed can introduce tactile elements that enhance the richness of the image. The delicate twisting of lace or the wooly quality of tweed can create captivating contrasts and subtle variations in tone, adding dimension to the portrait, and infusing it with character, warmth, and visual depth.


Carefully chosen accessories can add a splash of character to black-and-white portraits without distracting or overwhelming the overall portrait. These subtle additions serve as accents that complement the attire and show off your individual style. Whether it’s a bold statement necklace, your great-aunt’s brooch, your favorite felt hat, or a floral scarf, accessories can contribute to the narrative of the portrait, offering glimpses into your personality and interests.

What not to wear.

Busy Patterns

When choosing attire for your black-and-white portrait session, it’s best to steer clear of busy patterns or large logos that can be distracting in the final images. Instead, go with solid colors or subtle textures that will translate well in black and white and keep the focus on you and your unique expression.

Bright Neon Colors

When planning your wardrobe for a black-and-white portrait session, it’s wise to avoid bright neon colors. While these hues may be vibrant in color photography, they can appear overly intense and distracting in black and white. Opting for softer, more subdued tones will ensure that the focus remains on you, creating a more harmonious and captivating portrait.

Overly Matched Outfits

When posing with your loved ones, it’s important to strike the right balance between coordination and individuality. While matching outfits may seem like a good idea, they can often appear dated and lack visual interest in black and white. Instead, consider opting for complementary colors and styles that highlight each individual’s personality and flair.

Ill-Fitting Clothing

To make sure your black-and-white portraits look their best, wearing clothes that fit well is key. Fitted or tiger is better than looser fitting clothing. Well-fitted outfits not only make you look better but also help you feel more comfortable during the shoot. So, choose clothes that flatter your body shape and avoid anything too baggy or tight. When your clothes fit just right, you’ll feel confident and look great in your portraits, capturing your true self with style.

Shorts and Sleeveless:

Wearing Shorts in the studio tends to draw the viewer’s eye to the legs instead of to the face. Sleeveless tops also draw attention to upper arms and armpits, and in general, are best avoided for the most flattering results in our portrait studio.

Styled to perfection.

At our studio, we understand that selecting the right clothing for your custom portrait can be a daunting task. That’s why we offer personalized assistance to help you make the right decisions. When you bring your clothing options to the studio, our portraitists work closely with you to ensure that your attire aligns with the vision for your portrait.

Whether you’re seeking guidance on color coordination, style choices, or accessorizing, we’re here to provide expert advice and support every step of the way. Our goal is to make the process as seamless and enjoyable as possible, ensuring that your portrait reflects your unique style and feels like “You.”

We’re excited to see your one-of-a-kind style shine through the clothing options you bring in, and we can’t wait to collaborate with you to create stunning portraits that capture your essence and personality. Get ready for a fun and creative experience – we’re honored to be a part of your portrait journey!