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How to Shop More Sustainably for your Engagement Session

November 9, 2019

So you’ve booked your engagement session—the date is set, the location has been picked and you’re so excited—but how do you pick what to wear?

I like to give all my couples a Style Guide that gives them an idea of what types of clothing and accessories are going to look best on the camera. Generally I recommend looking for items of clothing that offer a lot of movement or flow, textures, neutral or deep tones, and styles that flatter your features. I’m also a big fan of pattern mixing, if you’re feeling bold.

As a lover of fashion myself, I understand the urge to instantly start online shopping for the right dress, jacket, blouse, etc. BUT as a lover of our planet and the gorgeous natural areas we get to shoot in regularly, I’m constantly looking for ways to reduce my footprint, so I always make an effort to shop second hand first.

“Fast fashion is second only to oil as the world’s largest polluter.”

I thought, why can’t this principle apply to shopping for your photo session? It can! So for my most recent engagement session, I took Gabi and James shopping at one of my favorite second hand stores in Portland—Crossroads Trading. They are selective of the items they choose to buy and in turn sell to you, which makes rummaging around the racks a lot less exhausting if you’re the kind of person who dislikes this type of shopping. I gave them my tips on what to look for, and then set them loose to find pieces that really spoke to them. We also kept in mind other articles of clothing that they already had in their wardrobe that could accent a thrifted piece or be the foundation of an outfit.




After gathering several pieces that fit the color scheme we were going for and that looked like something they would like, we tried them on! We made sure to follow the most important rule when looking for an outfit for your session—make sure it makes you feel good and confident! This is the most important piece. If you feel beautiful, handsome and confident in what you’re wearing, it’s going to show in your photos.

Gabi found a gorgeous velvet dress with a beautiful open back, and James found two button ups that had good texture and weight to them. Paired with pieces they already owned at home, Gabi and James were able to build photogenic outfits that were fun and new to them, without participating in the fast fashion industry.


5 Reasons Why You Should Try Thrifting for Your Engagement Session

  1. It’s fun! Going through all the clothing options at a consignment store is a fun way to spend time with your partner and build cohesive outfits together. You can always plan to reward yourselves for a hard days work with a lunch date after!

  2. It’s more sustainable. As previously mentioned, fast fashion is the world’s second largest polluter. The mantra “reduce, reuse, recycle” works for fashion too! Every little bit you do on an individual level helps.

  3. You can find really unique pieces. I shoot a fair amount of engagement sessions and weddings and I see a lot of the same dresses or skirts every year. Shopping at a consignment store increases the likelihood that your outfit won’t be like anyone else’s and will be totally you.

  4. You can save or even make money. A lot of consignment stores have really reasonable prices for pieces that would usually cost a lot more! You could also use this as an opportunity to Marie Kondo your closet and try to sell some of your clothes and use the store credit to buy the articles you want for your session.

  5. It’s easier to try new styles or get pieces you wouldn’t usually purchase. I like to encourage couples to find a statement piece or something fun to accessorize that maybe they wouldn’t wear on a daily basis but will look fun on camera. Purchasing second hand is less of a commitment to these types of items, and you can always try to resell your item when you’re done with it!

Scroll on to see how Gabi and James’ outfits came together for their adventure engagement session at God’s Thumb on the Oregon Coast.







Where to Thirft in Portland, Oregon

Crossroads Trading

Buffalo Exchange

William Temple House


Modo Boutique

Red Light Clothing Exchange

Prefer to online shop? Try ThredUp an online consignment store that makes it easy to filter by size, style, etc.




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