Dressing For Success

DFS_001Dressing For Success. What does it really mean? And what is a Family Portrait Photography Studio doing writing about this? Read on, all will soon be revealed.

Dressing For Success is quite often associated with an effort to look good to ‘win’ – A job, a contract, a partner in life, or maybe just so others see you in a certain way.  But when dressing for success this way, is it the real you?

Throughout your life, you’ve probably been given tips how to dress for success when going for an interview. You’ve probably read articles about what to wear to attract the attention of the opposite sex. (Never one to miss an opportunity to talk up 80’s Music, Roxette even sang about this.) And thanks to the plethora of magazines available we all know what hot mum’s & dad’s are wearing, driving and even how they style their hair & make up.

But is it the real you?

I know in my younger years, I’ve certainly been guilty of dressing for success like this. I’ve donned suits which really aren’t me, worn too much makeup because it was the in thing to do and I’ve worn ridiculous heels which are so uncomfortable I’ve needed chiropractic adjustments (this is a true story). Sometimes I was successful, sometimes not, but most of the time I was uncomfortable and ALWAYS self conscious – because I wasn’t being me.

I even recall Israel’s reaction when I came home from my trial make up session for our wedding day. It went something like – Hi, kiss, step back, OMG what all that stuff on your face. I didn’t put this in quotation marks because it was 10 years ago, and I can’t remember the exact words but he knew the words had stung me. In an effort to console me, I remember him telling me that all that make up wasn’t me, and he would much prefer me to look the way I normally look.  After all, that was who he had proposed to. Makes sense really doesn’t it. Simple. Thank goodness he didn’t see the original hairstyle I had planned for the day – Lol!

(Edit: I remember exactly what I said: “OMG – what have you done to yourself?!” Class. All class. – Israel.)

So I guess this brings me to these questions: Does Dressing For Success mean wearing what you think the occasion needs, and the people want or expect – even if it means you are uncomfortable? Or does it mean dressing so you are comfortable and not self conscious and letting the real beauty of you shine through.

So here’s where this connects to your photography.

Israel and I believe your family portraits will always be more successful when you wear what you are comfortable in – including your hair style and make up (if any). Your portraits should tell a story about your family today. The clothes and shoes you wear, your hair cut & style, what you bring along to the shoot (eg. scooter, tutu, football etc) and even where you choose to have your portraits taken.

These elements are all part of your real story. In years to come, your portraits will trigger memories about your life today, make you laugh, and maybe even bring a tear to your eye. This is why it’s so valuable to have portraits done today. Now. This month.


I had originally researched a whole lot of articles to include in this post. About dressing for success, being comfortable in your skin,  about confidence etc. Then I found this quote, and it surpassed absolutely all the articles I had read. It quite eloquently wraps up our beliefs:

“There is nothing more rare, nor more beautiful, than a woman being unapologetically herself; comfortable in her perfect imperfection. To me, that is the true essence of beauty.”
― Steve MaraboliUnapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience

Of course, we believe this quote extends to the whole family – Dad, the children, the dog, the rabbit etc.

When everyone is dressed in what they are comfortable wearing, their hair and make up is as done normally, and are in an environment they enjoy, the resulting portraits won’t just be more successful. They will be magnificent memories created for life.

01449_001This post was prompted by a client who phoned in a bit of flap about what to dress everyone in for her portraits. We spoke for some time about how her portraits were designed to tell a story of their family. If this meant her daughter wore her tutu because she loves it, and her son dressed in his converse shoes, then go with that! She didn’t need to get her hair & make up done if that’s not what she normally does.

I could feel her sense of relief over the phone, as she was given permission for her family to simply be themselves.

I would like to acknowledge our client Rachel for her call and prompting me to write this post. We believe it is so important to spread the word that everyone is naturally beautiful in their own right, and it’s absolutely perfect to just be yourself.


Dress For Success – just wear what you are comfortable in, just be yourself. Simple as that!

View our website to see how these families, and many more have Dressed For Success. The result are magnificent memories and stunning artworks by Israel Smith Photographers.

Celebrating and honouring families through unique, timeless images that evoke stories of lives lived and shared together.


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