What To Wear For Senior Pictures (Tips And Ideas)

Your senior picture is something that could haunt you if done badly, but the right senior photo will be kept around for years to come, and is even a picture you will reflect on yourself when you’re older, so you want to make sure you do it right.

We want to show off our maturity in this picture, but also want to honor our parents’ respect.

What To Wear For Senior Pictures (Tips And Ideas)

In this article we are going to suggest our best ideas for what to wear to your senior photo so that you can feel comfortable, confident, but also sure you are presenting yourself the best way possible.

Keep reading to learn more about senior pictures and what to wear for one. FInd this out, and more, below.

What Is A Senior Picture?

Senior pictures have evolved over time and are slightly different in the modern day to what they used to be in your Mom’s eyes.

Put simply, a senior picture or senior portrait is a photo that documents you as you have developed over teh high school period.

A senior portrait will generally present you as you have been shaped by the high school period and what you look like as you enter adulthood.

Back in the day you may be expected to go traditional and you may be expected to wear formal dress, as some schools may still require, but most modern senior portraits allow a little more creativity than this these days.

The modern senior picture can be a much different experience, and the senior themself has more choice over what the picture expresses.

What we mean by this is that your senior picture can be more than just a picture of you. Your senior picture can show off backdrops that may be important to you over the high school period, may show you involved in one of your hobbies or sports that has typified your high school year, or may simply frame your personality in a unique way (see also “Photographing Your Child’s Hobbies And Interests“).

1. Wear Your Formal Dress

One fun way to style your senior photo session is to wear your formal dress you graduated in. This can be a great way to celebrate your graduation, if this is something that means a lot to you.

We love the way this photo is framed on the American Football field at this university, it shows how you can wear formal dress to celebrate your graduation, all while still framing the photo somewhere that is important to you and your time at high school, which may be the football field.

Plus it means you can get that classic ‘throwing your mortarboard in the air’ pose that everyone loves. Additionally, your mom and grandma will probably love to see you in formal clothes for your senior photo.

2. Dress Smart Generally

While you may not want to wear your school’s specific graduation garb, you could still dress formally or just smart if you wish to.

One reason it can be worth considering dressing up in a suit, is because as you enter the world of work you could use these generic formal photos for headshots on LinkedIn or any other platform a employer might find you on.

Plus, a suit shows you are ready for the working world, and can perhaps be a good look if you want to show others you are professional and taking your future seriously, rather than looking like you are celebrating no more school.

In other ways, a suit is a timeless option that helps show off your features and self (Also check out Creative Self-Portrait Photography Ideas & Tips), rather than detracting from the latter with showy casual clothes.

When you look back at your senior photo you won’t regret the decision to wear a suit, but you may cringe at a more casual choice of dress.

3. Wear Your Letterman

A letter sweater or jacket, certainly in tradition, may be awarded to a student for excellence in a subject or area. A letterman jacket is a good way to show off a varsity achievement, or a focus on sports in school, in a candid way.

It depends how your school treats letterman jackets, but even without using it to show off some achievement, it can be a good casual-formal choice that can still show off your schooltime while also being a cool garment.

Plus, if you have earned yourself a letterman jacket, there perhaps is no better place to show it off than in your senior photo, that’s kind of what they are for, and is something you might not wear once you have graduated high school.

4. Wear Something That Shows Off Where You Are From

It’s important to not forget where you came from. If part of your high school journey was moving far away, or you went to high school in your local area, it can be cool to wear something that celebrates where you are from and the community you hold dear.

In the included photo, this senior chose to wear an outfit that reflects his origins – a cowboy hat and jeans. Perhaps this is something that is important to him, farming, and something that he is embracing in the post-high-school life.

Moreover, this type of dress might be traditional within his family, and he may want his own senior photo to blend in with the other photos of his family members for whom this dress matters.

Others may consider traditional cultural or religious garbs that reflect their background, where they come from, and represent the communities that matter to them.

Some of these garbs may simply carry on a family or cultural tradition, so their senior photo doesn;t look out of place with those of their families.

5. Wear Your Sports Uniform

American universities have a close relationship with sports, and many students and seniors may be entering a university on a sports based diploma, with the main goal of pursuing sports.

If this is the case for you, or you just really like playing sports, or are known for playing a certain sport, it can be fun to wear your sports uniform.

This can simply be a way for you to uniquely show off the things that matter to you and what you hold dear. It can also show your loyalty to a team that may have formed a community around in high school, perhaps helping you in the year.

It’s also just a way for you to celebrate the things that mattered to you in high school, likely helping bring back some memories when you look back on the photo in the future.

6. Pose With Your Instrument

Another area that is important to various seniors is music. Like sports, certain academic institutions may use your musical skill as part of a university application.

Nonetheless music may be something really important to you, your high school career may be exemplified by your musical performances.

If you have undertaken many live performances it may be cool to dress in what you might wear for a musical live performance and pose with your instrument of choice, you could even choose to have your photoshoot in the theater you play in lots. At the end of the day, your picture should reflect what matters to you.

7. Wear Something Casual

Sometimes it may just be best to wear something casual. Just choose an outfit that feels like you, something that you are comfortable in, that you feel is an expression of who you are at that time.

Often uniforms, when applied, can make all students feel the same, so this can be a good chance for you to show who you really are.

If formal wear or a suit just doesn’t feel like you, then why wear something that doesn’t accurately reflect who you are. Go for something that you feel reflects your character at that time.

8. Represent Your School With Accessories

Most US schools don’t actually have uniforms, and even if yours does, maybe you don’t necessarily want to wear the uniform, but want to rep your school somehow.

One way you can do this, while still expressing yourself through your outfit, is to wear some sort of accessory that represents the school.

In the example above you can see the student wearing their school’s, or potentially a prospective university’s colors through a scarf.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, senior photos are all about being yourself and expressing what’s important to you.

Whether that’s a sport, hobby, or achievement, or you just want to dress in something that feels like a reflection of yourself, it’s your chance to show the world who you are.

It’s also an opportunity to potentially pay homage to your high school, a sports team, or a community that may have helped support you in your high school years.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Is A Senior Year Photo Different From A Yearbook Photo?

You might be wondering what the difference is between your yearbook photo and your senior photo, as they often occur in the same period at the end of your final year. The differences are small but quite easy to understand.

Put simply, your yearbook photo is more of a rinse and repeat process aimed to record you as a pupil in your year at school.

There is much less room for expression, a single photography team will use the same background and similar poses for each student, they simply want a visual record of everyone indeed year for diligence as well as nostalgic purposes.

You may be required to wear more formal dress and are there to pose rather than creatively engage with the process like you would a senior photo.

In a framing sense, a yearbook photo is basically a ‘headshot’ or portrait frame, as if you’re an actor getting a headshot for a film, rather than having choice over the framing of a senior photo.

As discussed, your senior photo is more for you and your family, with more room for you to make your own creative choices that you feel express your time at high school.

In other words a senior photo is usually for you and your family, while a yearbook photo is for the school.

Laura McNeill
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