The Benefits of Taking Outfit Shots (even if you aren’t a blogger)

by katyrose on September 10, 2011

I remember the very first time I realized a picture spoke more clearly about my outfit choices than the mirror and my personal opinion. I was in high school on a service trip to Mexico with some classmates. There was this horizontal-striped, brightly-colored t-shirt that I wore constantly. It was my go-to top and in my opinion went perfectly with shorts and a skirt. My mom might have bought it. Or perhaps I borrowed it permanently from her closet. I don’t remember.

On this trip to Mexico I managed to get a great tan, consume my first taste of tequila, highlight my hair red and get my first set of fake nails – obviously as epic trip, full of pictures. A whole album worth of pictures, in fact. When I developed the pics and started placing them in the album I came across a picture of me in my favorite top and was shocked at what I saw – a shapeless mass. A shirt that was neither cute nor flattering.

I never wore the shirt again.

A few years later it happened again. I was obsessed with this oatmeal-colored sweater of my mother’s. I wore it everywhere despite the fact that it was huge on me. I wore it to my best friend’s birthday party and when the pictures were developed I realized how absolutely horrible the whole thing appeared. The sweater was quickly relegated to at-home use only. It became my weekend study-sweater in college; the one I curled up in when no one but my roommate and close friends would see me.

Now I photograph nearly every outfit I wear. And while not all of them make it onto the pages of ModlyChic the act of photographing what I’m wearing each day has become super helpful in my shopping exploits and in purchasing clothing that is flattering and functional. The picture quality doesn’t even matter. Take the photo up against your bedroom door or in your hallway… whatever.

I think everyone can benefit from taking outfit pictures – especially when it comes to favored looks or ones intended for special occasions. A picture allows you to see the look from a third-party perspective. You are no longer looking at yourself in the mirror and unintentionally altering your perception based on outside circumstances – like the event you wore the outfit to or the feel of the material on your skin. You get the chance to see if there are any funny folds or any unflattering lines.

I’m taking my own advice into consideration and taking pictures of my New York Fashion Week outfits to figure out if everything is copasetic before I arrive in the Big Apple and have little time to tweak looks while running between events.

Want to figure out how to take your own outfit shots? Check out my earlier post on taking outfit pictures.

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Debbie September 10, 2011 at 6:24 am

What a great idea. Don’t you wish we had polaroid cameras again? I wore a shirt for our church portraits and not only am I missing a necklace, the collar was crooked. What was that photographer thinking? Next time, I will put more thought into it and take my picture first, before I let someone else take it!
Deb
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Anja September 10, 2011 at 7:09 am

I fully agree with you on those horrible outfit choices. Pictures are great to show you exactly how something looks without you or another person talking you into buying something that isn’t flattering. Take my last outfit post for example. I am loving the whole outfit and how pictures came out, but that skirt just makes me look preggers when viewing me from the side, so I need to do something about that asap or the skirt has to go, sad but true. It also reminds me of Clueless – Cher used to take only photos of herself. Still a great fashion movie!!
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Amber September 10, 2011 at 8:21 am

I totally agree: so many times I’ve started taking outfit photos, looked back at the first couple and then gone and changed because they’ve helped me see that the outfit really wasn’t flattering. For some reason, things that look perfectly fine in the mirror can look totally different on camera!

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Sophie - Country girl September 10, 2011 at 8:33 am

Same story, I’ve found out just how different some outfits look from a third party’s point of view. It’s such a shock to see how awful some items look on me, although on the flip side, I have found a few pieces that I was really uncertain about that actually do look nice after all.
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Fashion By Alicia September 10, 2011 at 8:36 am

I completely agree with you. I have loved certain outfits and then I see myself in a picture and the outfit is not flattering. Taking the outfit photos has definitely made me more aware of how things fit and look.

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Kaitlyn September 10, 2011 at 9:13 am

I totally agreeith you about this, I have found the same exact thing to be true for myself. Things don’t look the sane in my mirror as they do in a photograph, great post thanks for sharing!!

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dotty September 10, 2011 at 9:56 am

i am so with you on this. somehow a photograph (even if digital and available instantly) seems to capture an entirely different view of me. i never knew that mirrors could be so biased!
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Shybiker September 10, 2011 at 10:09 am

Very true. I have learned so much from pictures that I’d have never seen in a mirror. Great post!
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Jennifer September 10, 2011 at 10:18 am

Agreed – great idea. I should probably start doing this ASAP. But another thing to keep in mind, I think, is that when an outfit doesn’t photograph well it doesn’t always mean it’s a horrible outfit choice. Maybe it’s just the styling, or even just how you’re feeling that day! There have been a couple of outfits I’ve put together for an outfit post and they ended up looking really bad on camera. I think that’s also partly due to the fact that I’m still trying to learn how to pose and try new things with my camera. I also think it has to do with styling something new. Or, it could have been because I just really wasn’t that into taking photos of my outfit that day. So yes, I think taking pictures of your outfits (even if you’re not blogging about them) is a good way to see how something looks on you and if how you styled it works too.
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Rachael September 10, 2011 at 10:31 am

Great post. Outfit photos are also a great way to capture and remember some of my favorite looks. One of these days I might play around in my closet and take pictures of my leather jacket, for instance, worn five different ways. It might make me shop less!

I hear you on looking back at unflattering outfit photos. The truth sometimes hurts!
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Anne @ The Frump Factor September 10, 2011 at 11:39 am

The camera can also add pounds or distort angles…… but as long as your shots are full length ones, I think it works well. Of course, my fear is that, if I photographed every outfit, I’d discover that I have no wearable outfits left!
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heidi September 10, 2011 at 1:07 pm

this is great advice. i took daily photos of my outfits for almost a year before starting to post them on a blog and i really helped me define what i think i look good in and different combinations of outfits i could come up with. it also helped to look back and realize if there was an item i hadn’t worn in a while or maybe i was wearing too much.
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Emily Hallman September 10, 2011 at 2:15 pm

This is such a great post! I agree with you–it’s so important to keep a picture log of our outfits. It truly does help us see the good, the bad, and the ugly. You write very well, I enjoy reading your blog!

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Hallie September 10, 2011 at 2:36 pm

I LOVE this article, Katy! I couldn’t agree more – and as you know, you are the lovely lady that inspired me to take my own blog photos. :)

Have a great weekend! -Hallie
http://www.coralsandcognacs.com

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Terri September 10, 2011 at 3:33 pm

I could not agree more! And it has been such a revelation to me. In fact, photos are much better than mirrors in that you can study them indefinitely. Plus, it has taught me things about stance, posture, facial expression, and hair. I am generally more aware of light…
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Cate September 10, 2011 at 8:26 pm

i don’t do this often, but i completely agree. don’t stylists usually do this too? a picture shows your dimensions in a way the mirror just never can. there have been tons of times i think i look great going out and the CRINGE at the pictures. one of life’s mysteries!
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Pencil Skirts and Lattes September 10, 2011 at 9:27 pm

Couldn’t agree more!! I’ve always had an eye for things that were less than forgiving on my figure – but taking pics of outfits all the time has upped my game for SURE! Great post, doll! :)

-Sarah
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Pretty Quirky Pants September 10, 2011 at 11:57 pm

Most definitely agree, I remember the first time I started taking pictures of my outfits, there were pieces where I was like ‘wwhhhaatt??’ – not particularly on the colour only because these vary on camera, but shape, creases and drape is so helpful on film rather than a mirror where things just swish about.

PQP
http://prettyquirkypants.com
xx
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katy_rose1 September 13, 2011 at 11:51 am

That’s true. The color is often off. But at least you can see the way it fits, folds and creases. So helpful!!

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Shen Dove September 11, 2011 at 11:43 am

I totally agree with you! You can never really get a full sense of how your outfit looks without a photo. I also like taking photos of outfits to get second opinions from friends or my Mom on if my outfit really works, or if I should try again.

Remember in the movie Clueless when Cher took Polaroids of her outfits before wearing them! That character was ahead of her time and would definitely be a style blogger if re-imagined in present day!

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katy_rose1 September 13, 2011 at 11:50 am

I totally forgot about the Cher pictures until you mentioned it – That movie and girl were SO ahead of her time. She would totally be THE epitome of an OOTD blogger.

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THE-LOUDMOUTH September 11, 2011 at 1:08 pm

This is a seriously awesome post. I absolutely agree with you — years ago, before I started a fashion blog (or even considered it!) I always made someone (my mom, the boy I was dating, whoever) take outfit photos of me. Not only was it fun, but it was super helpful (and good practice for my future blogging).
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Angie September 12, 2011 at 6:52 am

That happens to me all the time. I wear something & then when I see the pic I’m like “What was you thinking”. Great post!
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Lea Richmond December 11, 2011 at 7:40 am

somehow a photograph (even if digital and available instantly) seems to capture an entirely different view of me. It truly does help us see the good, the bad, and the ugly. I should probably start doing this ASAP.
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