Tips + Techniques

Wardrobe for Winter Portraits: D’Ann Boal’s Client Guide

January 30, 2024

By D'Ann Boal

Even though winter can be a slow season for photos, I always have several portrait sessions booked. Clients often wonder what wardrobe to wear for winter portraits, and the season poses its own challenges.

To me, winter can be the most beautiful time of year for photos in Colorado where I’m based. The sun is so low in the sky that anytime of the day it looks like golden hour. Shadows are long. The color of the light in the winter is a different, more vibrant shade of gold. And then there’s the gold of all the grass in Colorado. 

Winter in Colorado comes with lots of gold tones which pair nicely with wardrobe muted tones. © Smitten & Swoon

I love winter photo sessions. They are gold and more gold. But choosing wardrobe for portraits in the winter can be much more difficult than in the warmer months when skin is tan and the colors of nature are abundant. When chosen carefully, winter clothing can bring out the beauty of the season.  

From hats in muted tones and the texture of fur and wool, to shades of pinks, creams, navy, and pops of red, these colors are lovely with the golden and white backgrounds of winter.

Hats in muted tones and textures of wool and fur add interest to winter wardrobe portraits. © Smitten & Swoon

Smitten & Swoon Guide for Winter Wardrobe

Here is the Winter Wardrobe Guide I share with my clients:

For your photo session, I want you to wear clothing that represents your personal style, but I also want clothing that flatters you.
The things that look great in person aren’t always the most flattering in photographs, so there are a few key things to keep in mind when deciding what to wear.

  • It can help to have a pattern in someone’s outfit that the rest of the group’s clothing or accessories pulls from.
  • Accessories: Scarves, hats, flowers in the hair for girls, jewelry, sweaters, vests, jackets, etc. All these things can take an ordinary image and make it feel “complete.”
  • Layers and textures create interest in photos. Consider including textures in a top or dress (i.e. lace, embroidery, subtle ruffles) with jackets or cardigans, and add accessories like scarves and jewelry.

It’s also great to have a look that’s timeless so that when you look back at these photos, they’re always in style. By choosing prints that are simple and classic, and keeping your styling minimalistic, your clothing will add to the session in a timeless way.  

Editor’s Note: A version of this article first appeared on Smitten & Swoon’s blog.

D’Ann Boal, of Smitten & Swoon Photography, is a photographer and photography educator based out of Boulder, Colorado. She is a Profoto Ambassador, Click Community Mentor, and runs a photography boutique from her little farm where she specializes in child & family portraiture. D’Ann will be teaching at the The Lighting Masters Summit at WPPI on March 4, 2024.

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