shooting in your skivvies
Somehow, you did it -- you signed yourself up for a boudoir photoshoot! It will likely be a fun and exciting day with some sexy souvenirs to walk away with, increased confidence being one of them... but now that the date is approaching you have a knot in your tummy because you have no idea what to wear.
Rest easy, Darling. I can help.
While it is impossible for me to cover every shape, style, personality, and possibility out there, I have the fortune (?) of having lived in two different body types during my love affair with lingerie. In my early twenties I got breast implants, and in my later thirties I got them out. So I went from an hourglass D-cup to a pear-shaped AA-cup. And even though I love my "new" natural body, lingerie that I could previously flaunt in front of the camera became a terrible fit and look on me. But now there are styles and shapes I can rock that I couldn't before. I also have plenty of "flaws" (scars, cellulite, beyond pale skin, et al) and still manage to take and confidently post photos in my skivvies for the world to see. I assure you that there is lingerie for every body shape, style, and budget, and you most certainly will look beautiful for your shoot.
What follow are guidelines that are by no means rules, because there are no rules. They are generalizations I have learned over the years of loving lingerie and from putting together my own looks. I hope you find some advice that suits you and your beautiful body.
Comfort - The most important factor in the lingerie you choose is that you feel comfortable wearing it. If you don't, you likely won't feel comfortable for your session. Think of your shoot as less about being as sexy and seductive as possible but rather a way of capturing those parts of yourself you love and having them reflected back to you. When we are uncomfortable, our best, true selves are not able to shine. So try on every piece beforehand, move around in it, and look at yourself from a few different angles (knowing that your photographer will be focusing on your best ones!). Get used to wearing it.
Type of lingerie - If you do not have a lot of confidence in your own skin you may be tempted to cover it up as much as possible. I encourage you to fight this fear. Remember, if you are giving these photos to someone, that person thinks your body is beautiful. If you treated yourself to the photoshoot to have the experience of feeling like a lingerie model for a day, know that there are plenty of models (like Ashley Graham, Tara Lynn, Sabina Karlsson, Denise Bidot, and Quinn Miles to name a few) with non-Barbie body shapes and looks. Aim for the most revealing set you would ever consider wearing, then back it off a notch to a level you are comfortable with. If you just don't know where to start, I recommend matching bra, garter belt, knickers, stockings and a new pair of (unworn) heels. If that does not sound like you, here are alternatives by body shape:
- The Apple - Corset or bustier with briefs and stay-up stockings
- The Pear - Longline bra, camisole or skimpy bralette with thong/g-string
- The Hourglass - Push-up/plunge bra with thong/g-string
- The Reed - Petite bralette with boy shorts, hipster or briefs and stay-up stockings
- The Plum - Half-cup bra with thong/g-string
Amazing torso? Try a bodysuit.
Are legs your best asset? Show them off in a short slip.
You don't have to limit yourself to lingerie - there is almost nothing sexier than being in a half-state of undress. A sweater slipping off the shoulder, jeans being pulled on or off, a button-down shirt hanging open to show a glimpse of skin... Think about your personality and what you want to project in the photos. I like dress-up, and so you see a lot of that in my portfolio. But there is also boho sexy, effortless allure, sassy and salacious, and girl-next-door simplicity.
If you're still tempted to cover up, bring a beautiful robe or wrap with you to the shoot to "warm up" with.
Fit - Proper fit is essential for any piece of clothing to flatter, and lingerie is no exception. No matter how good the sale is, if the lingerie is not your size, pass on it. If the only issue with fit is something easily adjusted (say a bra band or garter belt is loose and can be tightened by a knowledgeable seamstress) then it's worth considering. Otherwise keep searching. Again, to be most confident you must be comfortable. If you're having to constantly fidget with a strap or can't breathe because of a constricting band then at best you'll have a few ruined shots and at worst your discomfort will show in the photos.
Color - If you already have a color in mind, go with it. But if you haven't chosen yet, consider the opposite direction of your skin color in white or black. That is, if you are dark-skinned, go with white. If you are light-skinned, go with black. Not only will the lace or straps pop in the photos thanks to the contrast, they will translate well to black and white photos if you want something with an artsy feel. It's not a hard and fast rule either. If you prefer white to black lingerie or vice versa, they are universally attractive on all skin hues. Any color can work (assuming it flatters your skin tone), but may require a specific boudoir setting in order to flow rather than clash. Be sure you know what the background will be like beforehand.
Overall Style - Want to express your erotic side or shed your good girl persona for a day? Cuffs, chokers, and straps will bring out the dominatrix in you. Ready to bare (almost) all? Think sheer, playsuits, or the tried and true hand bra. Are you drawn to lacy? Bold? Delicate? Naughty? It's all out there. When you start shopping the style my only guideline is to avoid the temptation to use fabric to cover up or hide your least favorite characteristics of your natural shape - it usually backfires. Instead determine what actually accentuates and enhances them as features, not drawbacks. Specifics below.
Booty Style - An opposites-attract enigma. If your ensemble includes bottoms, I can definitely lend advice. My naked behind from the worst angles is square, flat, or boxy. My hips are wide relative to my waist, so with all my doubts about the sexiness of my glutes I would cover them up as much as possible in my early days. Big mistake. The bigger and square-er the booty, the less it should be covered, and here's why. A thong or g-string can help draw round curves at the top of the buttocks and redefine where the waist appears. This lends an upside-down heart shape to the cheeks and photographs much better than boy shorts or high-waisted bottoms might on a bigger booty. In contrast, the rounder, perkier, skinnier and smaller the posterior and mid-section, the more can be covered up and still look ravishing. Boy shorts and briefs often look super sexy on tiny tushies.
Top Style - Play to strengths. Big, luscious boobies call for cleavage. Lots of it. Look for underwire, push-up or balconnette bras. It's okay to have a slightly smaller cup than usual to enhance any spillage over the top edge. You may want to avoid teddies and slips that drape off your large bosom unless they are quite sheer, otherwise they hide your curves and actually can make you appear larger than you really are. When I downsized from D to A, I had to adapt styles. Only occasionally does an underwire fit me well now. When I've tried chasing a bigger projection with pads or push-ups the effect is almost always disappointing. Smaller breasts often look best in halter tops, bralettes and anything without padding to highlight your natural perkiness. Let lace and straps play along and across your chest, just don't try to make your boobs look bigger than they are. They are beautiful and sexy without trying to be something they're not.
Stockings - These can be tricky, especially because the fit can be so finicky. I love a pair of stay ups to really crank up a simple bra and knicker set, but with soft legs comes the risk of muffin top. Since even simple stockings add so much elegance I highly recommend cinching up a pair with the help of a garter belt. For me, the bra-garter-belt-knickers-hosiery combo is the gold standard of lingerie (plus it's a lot of fun to peel off with your partner or in front of the camera one piece at a time). Some of the most beautiful stockings are artwork of their own, but risk competing with your lingerie. Look for simple, plain, fishnet or matching. Stockings should compliment the rest of the ensemble as a supporting cast member. Black hose for black lingerie, beige/nude or white hose for white lingerie.
Heels - Yep, treat yourself to a new pair of stilettos. They don't have to be the most comfortable or easy to walk in as they are mainly an accessory to the outfit, but they really ought to be new so the soles are attractive if they show in photos. Nothing ruins a perfect shot like dirty footwear. The style of shoes should be like the stockings: simple, classic and complimentary to the lingerie.
Accessories - I feel naked without jewelry so I'm never without at least my wedding ring and a pair of earrings. Body chains are always sexy. If you're being coiffed at the same location as the shoot and time permits, curlers or a towel in the hair offer a candid and intimate shot.
Budget - If you have the means, go for the gold. Unless you have a built in photographer at home, you likely won't be doing this as often as I do, and this is the perfect excuse to splurge. But if buying a few new sets of lingerie is not in the cards and you don't have anything in your lingerie drawer to chose from, then shop your regular closet! An off the shoulder sweater, a jacket, braless tank, or cropped tee and your most flattering cut of underwear can be sexy as hell.
Whew! That was a lot of advice. If you're still with me and feeling a little overwhelmed, just remember that fit is most important. Comfort is a must. And momma needs a new pair of shoes. Thankfully there is no one way to be sexy. As long as you put a little forethought and planning into the wardrobe selection for your shoot, you will look and feel amazing - and your photos will reflect that. Good luck and happy hunting!