My Tips on How To Dress For Your Maternity Photo Session
There are lots of options for what to wear for your maternity photos, and as a maternity photographer, what I want is for you to look amazing. What you would wear in normal day-to-day life may not necessarily look the best for photos so keep reading for my recommendations. At the end, I include links to my favorite dresses and stores to shop at.
Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links, but only for products that I use and love (I seriously only included things I'm obsessed with!). If you buy through them, I'll earn some cash for coffee (or tea). But don't worry, I'll use that energy to create more helpful content for you!
Choose a Flattering Silhouette for Your Maternity Photos
I'm adding this first because it's the most important. If you stop reading after this tip, at least you will see this one! You want to wear a dress that will give you the most flattering silhouette for your maternity photos. So here is what to look for:
- A dress/top that is tight up top, meaning that it is tight to just above the belly.
- A dress or skirt that flares out starting just above the belly. You don't want it to be tight underneath the belly. I know there are a lot of dresses like that, and maybe this is a personal preference, but I love a flowy skirt that allows lots of movement. I think it looks more flattering and it also gives you something to play with/swish around.
- Length should be to the floor. Not too much longer than that because you don't want to trip on it (unless you plan an epic, long dress for just a small portion of the session). And it's okay if it's midi-length if you want to show off your shoes. But typically a floor length dress looks more romantic and flowy.
And when I say these recommendations, I'm talking about your main dress. You can definitely bring another outfit that is completely different, but for the main part of the session, this is what I love best. 🙂
What Color Should You Wear?
The reason you're booking this maternity photo session is to show off that beautiful bump, so make sure to wear colors that will show it off. Meaning do NOT wear black or navy or any other super dark color. It hides the bump and makes it hard to see, and that's not what you're going for. But at the same time, you don't want to wear bright neon colors, either. Light to medium colors will look best.
What fabric should you wear for maternity photos?
This is something that I think gets overlooked when moms are planning for their maternity photos. Fabric makes a huge difference!!
Fabrics to avoid for maternity photos
First, let's talk about fabrics to avoid. Don't wear stiff cotton because it doesn't flow nicely and it can be super wrinkly. It's just not my favorite. The second fabric I would avoid is that super stretchy fabric. You may think it will be good, and there are tons of maternity dresses made from this, but it's a mistake. It shows every little bump, so if you have a bra on, you can see all the bumps on your back and side. It also can cling awkwardly to your legs while you walk. Here is an example of a dress using this fabric and you should definitely not get it!
Best fabrics for maternity photos
Now onto fabrics that I would recommend! I love texture so gauze or crepe fabrics are amazing like this one from Jen's Pirate Booty. I also love the texture in this soft cotton Free People dress and the swiss dot fabric looks awesome. Polyester has a great flow. Rayon also photographs really well like this Free People dress. Basically, anything that has a nice flow when you swish it! I also love lace.
What patterns are best for maternity portraits?
You can't go wrong with solid colors, and dresses with some texture (like maybe some lace or crepe fabrics). But patterns can be great for maternity photos, too! You just want to select the right one. If you select a pattern that is too tiny, it can be too busy and really distracting, especially if there are two contrasting colors (like black against white). But you also don't want to select patterns that are too big, which isn't all that flattering. Medium-sized patterns are what you're going to shoot for here. You also want to make sure that the contrast between the colors in the pattern and the color of the dress isn't too much. For example, a dark navy pattern on a white dress would be too much contrast. But a cream-colored pattern against a dusty rose-colored dress would be subtle and beautiful.
Dress for the Season
Make sure to think about the weather when deciding what to wear for your maternity photos. If it's going to be hot out, pick a more breathable fabric. If it's going to be cold, look for a long-sleeved dress, or bring a chunky knit cardigan to go over the top. Chunky knits are great because you can wear them off your shoulders and it looks amazing, and then between shots, you can cuddle up and get warm.
What should your partner or kids wear for your maternity photos?
When deciding what your partner will wear, you want to coordinate but not match. If your colors are the same, you will blend into each other and it will be hard to see the separation. The same goes for anyone in your family, we don't want anyone blending into each other. Put your partner and/or kids in complementary colors. You can search Pinterest for complementary colors or get ideas. I also have a what to wear guide on my website or just message me for help if you've booked a maternity session with me! 🙂
What undergarments should you wear for maternity photos?
Depending on the dress you choose to wear and also your comfort level, you may want to consider some shapewear underneath your dress. Or just get some seamless underwear so the seams aren't creating bumps in your dress. For your bra, be sure that the straps will not show, or rather than wearing a bra, you can also get some pasties instead. That way you don't have to worry about bra straps at all. Just make sure that what you wear makes sense for the dress you choose. And don't forget about the color of your undergarments. Wear colors that won't show through your dress.
Bring an Extra Maternity Outfit
Bringing another outfit to your maternity session is a great idea and gives you some variety. I can bring my changing tent so changing on location is quick and easy. Sometimes the extra outfit is just a lacy cardigan over underwear so we can really emphasize your beautiful belly. Or maybe you want some casual photos in your overalls or a crop top with jeans. Possibly you just want two different dresses. Whatever your style is, just let me know ahead of time so we can decide when the best time to wear it is, at the beginning, or at the end of the session. I can help you brainstorm and I might have something in my client closet that you would love to use!
Hopefully, you have a better idea now of what to wear for your maternity photo session, but remember that I am always here to help! When you book a session with me, you gain access to my client closet, as well as my styling advice, so please ask me any and all your questions!
Where to Shop for Maternity Dresses
Although I do have a client closet with dresses you can borrow, you may want to get your own dress.
I want to make your search for what to wear for maternity photos as easy as possible! So here are my favorite amazon dresses for maternity sessions (I own these so I know they're good). They come in more colors than just what is shown below, as well. Tip: read the reviews on what sizes to get. When buying non-maternity dresses typically you need to order one size larger than you would wear normally.
Another great place to get maternity dresses is at small boutique online shops. Sometimes a dress that isn't meant for maternity can be amazing, and bonus: you can probably wear it again after you have the baby! You want to look for stretchy fabric, dresses with elastic at the waist, and a higher waistline. You also want to pay attention to if it is lined or not, because some dresses are lined, but only partway down, and it's too short to fit a bump.
In particular, I love Joyfolie dresses. Here's a session I did where mom was in the Dawn dress:
Other Joyfolie dresses I think would be amazing for a maternity photoshoot is the Gia Dress and Aniya Dress. I have used all of these so I know that they work for maternity.
Other places I love to shop at for maternity photoshoot dresses
This dress is from Pink Blush
The 3 dresses above are all from Baltic Born
More What to Wear for Family Photos Posts
If you're interested in learning more about what to wear for family photos, I wrote more on the subject:
Patterns: What to Wear for Family Photos
What Colors to Wear for Family Photos
What NOT to Wear for Photo Sessions
What to Wear to Your In-Home Lifestyle Session
How to Prepare for Your Overcast Photo Session
How to dress for winter photos
I also have a What to Wear page on my website, and you can get inspiration from my Pinterest Board where I pin outfits I think would look great in photos.
More Helpful Maternity Posts
Looking for a maternity photographer?
And if you're looking for a maternity photographer, I'm available for sessions anywhere (I travel!) but I'm based out of Portland, Oregon, and often take photos in the Columbia River Gorge and Oregon Coast. Please contact me for local or travel sessions and we will work together to create gorgeous images for you that show off your beautiful bump and some amazing scenery.
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Becca, this guide is incredible! I adore each of your articles and your images are stunning! Thank you for creating this!
I never had a maternity photo session and i regret it. If you decide to have one you would want to make sure EVERYTHING is perfect too, so these tips are perfect!
I never had a maternity shoot and it is a big regret. The tips you gave in this article are helpful and will make the shoots really nice for families.
I can’t wait get pregnant again. moments like this makes things run smoothly
Everyone feels different about their body when pregs, finding what makes you feel best is so important!
These are great tips. Maternity photos are very precious and should look great.
I’m doing this in December so thanks for the tips!! I never know how to dress myself in general LOL