Taking the Best Yearbook Portrait: What Outfit and Colors to Wear

One of the most common questions professional photographers receive is “What should I wear for my yearbook portraits?” But we’re here to help you answer that question for yourself.

Have you ever flipped through your parents’ yearbooks and laughed at some of the photos in there? Whether it was bell bottoms or big hair, the trends of any era can tend to overshadow what should really be the subject of the photos: the students themselves.

If you don’t want to look back on your yearbook photos and wonder what you were thinking, follow these tips.

Your yearbook will serve as a capsule of your most beloved school days for year, even decades, to come. While it’s fun to look back on the things that were popular during a certain period, the last thing you want is to look at a picture and ask, “What was I thinking?” And trust me, no matter how trendy something is at the time, at some point, we all wonder what we were thinking.

Ideally, a photograph should reflect its subject in an honest but timeless way. Your clothes, hair, and accessories should complement, not distract, from you. Yearbooks may have changed with technology, but a photo is still a photo. Follow these guidelines for your portraits straight from the pros so that you can put together a yearbook that continues to make you proud, not embarrassed.


Here is a list of the top things that professional photographers agree cause the most distractions in portraits and photographs:

  • Bright colors
  • Patterns
  • A two tone outfit (light on top, dark on bottom; dark on top, light on bottom)
  • Brand or band names and labels
  • Anything too tight, too baggy, or too short
  • Big jewelry
  • Too much makeup
  • Showing too much skin


The following is a list of the top recommendations from professional photographers that help make you the highlight of portraits and should be taken into consideration to ensure the best photos possible:

  • Outfits that reflect what you usually wear
  • Solid tones and colors
  • Similar tones on the top and bottom
  • Muted tones and colors
  • Keeping within 1-3 colors for group photos
  • Flattering, form-fitting clothing
  • Simple, minimal jewelry
  • Dark socks and footwear
  • Sleeves


While the above are all very helpful guidelines that should be kept into consideration, the absolute best way to capture a beautiful portrait is to follow one simple rule: be yourself. If there’s a particularly bold outfit that will make you feel good to wear, then go for it. If your trademark is wearing bright Hawaiian shirts to class every day, then there’s no reason you shouldn’t be photographed in one. When you feel good, you look good. When you’re uncomfortable with what you’re wearing, your portraits will reflect that, too.

Going too formal or flashy when you usually wear jeans and a t-shirt can come across as unnatural. The same goes for trying to tone it down too much to the point of feeling bland or boring.

You want to appear well put together, but comfortable. The same rules apply for unnatural poses or props. It’s easy to want to take your portraits over the top, but just remember, the simpler and truer to yourself you go, the more you allow for the real you to shine through in your photos. And that is what you’re going to want to remember over the years every time you flip through your yearbook. Let the real you shine through.


You can’t always control what pictures of you the school puts in the yearbook. But that’s what makes Treering so great. With Treering’s customizable pages, you’re able to create a yearbook that includes your own personal photos of your own choosing, as well as the ones that the yearbook committee have designated. That means that you can add in portraits, as well as pictures you took while hanging out with your friends, to give the pages of your yearbook diversity and to show what a special and unique student you are.

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