The question I probably get asked most often by expecting moms is, “What should I wear for my maternity photo session?” They are worried about what is flattering if they have to spend hours looking online or stop by a dozen stores to find something they like and what size they need. I am here to try to take all of these worries away and lift that weight off your shoulders to make this experience as relaxed and enjoyable as possible. This is why we will not only go over style and clothing in detail during our call(s) but also why I provide a client closet that is filled with designer gowns that specialize in maternity dresses, luxurious fabrics, bodysuits, and accessories.
While I will guide you every step of the way, this article will help you get an idea of what you like and maybe get you thinking a little more about styles and colors.
Before diving into the styles, cuts, and colors, I wanted to give you the most important and my number one tip as a professional maternity photographer: wear (or not wear) what you feel comfortable in and what makes you feel confident! Your overall comfort is my priority every step of the way, as it will always shine through in the images (i.e., through micro-expressions). This does not mean you shouldn’t try something new and maybe more daring! But by communicating what pushes your comfort limits, I know what to look out for, and we can plan backup looks at the very least.
Types of Outfits for Maternity Photo Sessions
Your maternity photos are about you and, thus, should reflect your style and preferences. This may be timeless-elegant, glamorous, or sexy – or a combination of them. In any case, there are many different options for you to choose from when styling your session.
Think about the amount of skin you are comfortable showing. If you want to show off your baby bump, you should consider choosing gowns that open in the front, sheer dresses, or lingerie. If you want to keep it more modest, solid fabrics and longer gowns, potentially with long sleeves, are great options.
I also always advice moms to think timeless. Trends come and go, and you want to look at your pictures 10, 15, or 20 years from now and still love them as much as you do right after you took them. If you really like a trendy look and want to include it, make it one of multiple so you have a range of different maternity photos, just in case.
Maternity Gowns & Dresses
Maternity gowns and dresses come in an abundance of designs and can be worn by a wide range of body sizes and types. Not only are they being offered in a lot of sizes, but they often fit more than just one specific size due to either stretchy material, elastic waists, or corsets with lace in the back. There are …
- flowy or ruffled gowns made out of silk / silk-like fabric or tulle,
- form-fitting knit gowns often made out of stretchy jersey, and
- sheer dresses made out of chiffon.
Varieties can include off-shoulder and sweetheart necklines, long and short sleeves, trains, and leg slits. Depending on the fabric and design, some will have solid colored fabric, others might include patterns, especially floral ones, or elaborate appliques sown on to the dress.
This red, shoulderless dress features a sweetheart neckline and will surely make you stand out!
Made out of silky fabric, this dress features an empire waist, a v-neck, and kaftan-style sleeves. The skirt has a slit.
Fabrics used in Maternity Photo Sessions
Fabrics are extremely versatile as they don’t have predetermined sizes or cuts and can be draped in many different ways to create a variety of looks. A simple piece can be used for a dramatic fabric toss, wrapped around your body, draped to make it look like a dress, or you can simply hold it. Additionally, fabrics are usually switched out or ‘redesigned’ quickly so you can do more looks during your session.
Bodysuits are perfect to draw attention to your bump and show some, but not too much, skin. They, too, come in different styles, cuts, and colors. Most of them are very stretchy accommodating multiple body shapes and sizes.
Implied Nudity and Lingerie
Another option is to wear some sexy lingerie to show off your stunning curves, or, well, nothing. The thought of wearing nothing in front of the camera can be scary but rest assured that with the right posing and lighting, all important parts will be hidden. Most moms have to build up their confidence during the session first, so I don’t recommend this as the first setup.
What Colors Should I Wear For My Maternity Photo Session?
The selection of colors can and should be based on a number of questions, such as:
- What is your personal color preference / what are your favorite colors?
- What is your skin tone? Which colors work best with it?
- What is the mood you are trying to achieve for your maternity pictures?
- What colors are present in your home / décor / furniture?
If you are unsure what colors to go with, pastels, black, white, and actual black-and-white images are “safe,” timeless options to go with.
How Many Outfits Can I Wear During My Maternity Photo Session?
Since a studio setting is a controlled environment, it offers more flexibility and privacy. It will overall depend on a few things, like the amount of breaks you want or need to take and what styles/outfits you selected, as changing in and out of gowns and bodysuits usually takes longer than switching out fabrics. Another factor is whether or not children are participating in the session, especially if they are younger, because it can take more time to get “the shot.” On average, you can expect 3-5 outfits/looks for a regular session.
What Should My Partner Wear For My Maternity Photo Session?
Once you chose your outfit(s), you can start thinking about the outfit for your significant other and / or children. Their outfits should be in alignment in terms of style and colors, meaning if you chose a formal, elegant dress, they should either wear a suit or dress – not shorts and a t-shirt. The same goes for colors. You want to make sure that their clothing will compliment your color choices, meaning if your dress is purple, for example, your significant other should not be wearing a green shirt.
Hair & Make-up
Having your hair and make-up done by a professional hair and make-up artist, like Crystal Konz, will wash away your stress and worries, pamper you before the session, and ensure you are camera ready. Studio lights, especially, require a different kind of make-up that is best applied by a pro to enhance your natural beauty.
Underwear that is not meant to be highlighted should be well-fitting, non-textured, and seamless so nothing peaks through. Oftentimes, white, black, or tan undergarments are the best choice. If the chosen outfit is strapless or features an off-shoulder look, your bra needs to be strapless!
For studio sessions, shoes aren’t a necessity, and moms often choose to go barefoot as it is more comfortable. If it fits the overall styling and mood, high heels (for a few pictures) can be the finishing touch.
Need More Inspiration?
If you need more inspiration and ideas, you can, of course, look through Pinterest or Instagram. Another great source is the websites of designers specifically creating gowns, dresses, and outfits for maternity photo sessions. The vendors listed below are some of my favorites out there that are doing a fantastic job of designing flattering, high-quality maternity outfits that photograph beautifully.