What to wear for a Modeling Portfolio?

What clothing to wear or bring for a modelling portfolio shoot?

Remember that a portfolio is designed to sell you – not the clothing or jewellery. Model portfolios should be a reflection of you and showcase your versatility as a model. Think of a model book as a ‘blank canvas’ for designers and clients. The purpose of the model book (at least before you get established as a model) is to showcase your potential and natural look without any gimmicks, excessive makeup, overstyled hair, jewellery or accessories that might distract from the natural you. 

We advise to bring a minimum of 6-8 different outfits to choose from ranging from casual and trendy to more formal or elegant.  It is always better to bring more options to choose from and our renowned fashion model portfolio photographer can help with styling. At London Photo Portfolios we also have a studio fashion wardrobe available with some clothing (UK clothing size 6-10 for women; S – M for men) but it is best not to rely on it. Our clients often bring a suitcase of clothes especially for the longer Pro Plus model portfolio package. 

What colours to wear for a model portfolio shoot?

Bold colours tend to work best (especially red, deeper greens, navy blue and purples). Therefore solid colours are a must for model portfolios. Red colour looks amazing on camera so we highly recommend to bring a few options especially if you are a girl (it can look good on all teenagers). 

It is advisable to avoid too distracting patterns and logos for model portfolios. However subdued patters might be still ok.  It is best to avoid black and white together as they can be too much of a contrast. Bring a few dark outfits or tops – black is a must and navy blue tends to be great especially with men. 

Most people don’t look great in grey and pale pastels and pinks – these can have a washed-out effect or make the skin look grey. We recommend also bringing a few outfits or tops in white to lighten up your portfolio.

What style of clothing to bring for a model portfolio session?

In model portfolio, you want to highlight your range as a model so it is good idea to have a mixture of different styles and textures. The clothes for model portfolios should be form fitting and not cover up the figure that agents, casting directors or clients are trying to see. For men in particular - shirts with texture are great especially for headshots. Bring your own style of clothing too. It is good to showcase your own fashion style in a model portfolio shoot especially if your style is cool and trendy. 

However we would advise against anything too trendy that might go out of fashion next season. Make sure you bring some ‘timeless’ options too. Keep in mind the type of modelling you are likely to suit or would like to get into and make sure you include that look in your book. 

Essential classic look for modeling portfolios

It is essential to bring some plain or casual clothing for model books including a pair of jeans (classic or dark blue tend to work best but you can bring a few options). 

If you have a leather jacket bring it along as well. Leather and denim never go out of fashion and model agencies love them. 

For female models, tailored jumpsuits can also look great. Think about the classic looks that you see in portfolios, like cool jeans or chic black fitted trousers and off-shoulder top, shirt or blouse (and blazer); or heels paired with jeans and bodysuit, and keep those looks in mind when putting together your pieces to take along with you. 

For male portfolios it is essential to bring a darker pair of trousers (smarter) as well as jeans and if you are a classic model (over 25) then also a formal suit or jacket to suit a more mature market aimed at professionals. Don’t forget the simple white and black top that you can easily pair with any jacket or blazer. 

What looks great in model portfolios and what to avoid

Luxury materials such as silk, satin and velvet can look amazing on camera so bring those to the shoot if you have any. We can always style or mix and match your wardrobe pieces for the final fashion look. If you have a beautiful evening gown bring it for the evening dress look or more elegant look in your portfolio. Keep in mind that any dresses need to look either more casual, trendy or classic, elegant for a high fashion look. 

Fitted clothing that shows your shape works best for model portfolios. You might want to skip that oversized, billowy or blouson top, or anything with dolman or batwing sleeves. While they might look flattering in person, they will not be slimming on camera, which tends to add a few kilograms. This applies to any body type. Choose outfits that will hug your curves, especially your waist, hips, arms, and chest but not be too tight. Any very tight and short party dresses or outfits should be avoided for model portfolios. Clothing should be fitted and show your figure but not too tight. Sweaters and knitwear can also look good in model portfolios for a more casual look. 

Shall I bring sporty outfits to a shoot?

It is up to you and whether you are athletic and toned. If you are quite sporty yourself it might be a good idea to bring some sporty outfits to the shoot. Sport and fitness models are increasingly in demand by sports, lifestyle and health conscious fashion brands. You can bring your running gear or gym kit such as sports shorts, tops such as Nike, hoody or running top to the photo shoot. Cold-weather sporty attire is not advisable as it can cover up your body too much and sports brands and casting directors for sportswear will want to see your physique. It is best to avoid sunglasses and hats for model portfolios so you don’t cover the features that agents want to see. However you might want to bring some props such as a ball if you are a footballer or boxing gloves if you do boxing but it is not necessary - unless you want to specialise in fitness modelling. Make sure you bring some sporty shoes or trainers to match the sport attire. 

What shoes should I bring for a model portfolio shoot?

Our photographer is asked very often about what shoes should models bring. Don’t worry too much about shoes. Unless you have a special pair that you bought and are dying to be photographed in. For model portfolio shoots, there is no need to worry much about the shoes you will wear. Most images will be a more of a close-up of you not showing your feet at all. Ladies - you might want to bring at least one pair of heels (for posture) - darker or ideally black if you bring just one pair. 

Heels tend to exaggerate feminine aspects of gait. Pointed shoes tend to also elongate the leg (not round-toe shoes or ankle straps which can visually bisect the legs). If your skin tone is uneven on legs you can bring a pair of glossy nude tights - up to you. In professional shoots models usually wear either nude tights or have body makeup applied on the skin (special body makeup is provided and can be applied on the day so need to bring any). 

For men darker shoes tend to fit or blend in with most outfits – best to avoid bright orange trainers especially if you are bringing just one pair of shoes. 

Bring matching underwear for your shoot

Try to make sure you have the matching underwear for your shoot or bring a nude bra that will not be visible under the garments. If you’re wearing an outfit which is showing your shoulders then you might want to bring a strapless bra. There is no need to bring a bikini or swimsuit unless that is the type of modelling that you would like to do. Only for beauty pageants models are still required to wear bikini. Please don’t stress about your body - so many models worry about things others don’t even notice not even the photographers! Nowadays commercial modelling is open to all sizes as long as in proportion. 

If you found this blog post helpful then you might also want to read a blog on preparing for the photoshoot with tips and guidance on full shoot preparation from skincare, hair, makeup and posing tips

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