A robe, peignoir, or dressing gown may be one of the most underrated and underappreciated garments, in real life and for boudoir portraits. These simple, loosely fitted pieces have a long and versatile history. They’ve served as a cover-up while dressing, a garment for lounging, and even a casual ‘at-home’ informal dress.
Whether made from simple silk or trimmed with ruffles and rows of lace (or maribou!), the humble robe is available in a huge range of styles.
In this article, I’m going to talk about a couple of ways that robes can be styled for a boudoir photo shoot and why they may be something you’d like to add to your session.
On a visit to the Indianapolis Museum of Art, I saw a painting from the Studio of Joshua Reynolds I thought it was a stunning portrait, and my wife and I spent a little time discussing the styling and that her garment was probably just a posing gown/robe that the artist had in the studio. In the museum’s description of the piece, they say, “The sitter’s slightly twisted position allowed the artist to turn her face gracefully to the side, subtly accentuating her elegant coiffure and seductively bared back.”
Portrait of a Woman presumed to be Mrs. Charles James Fox circa 1778-1780
With that, I knew it was time to add some robes to my studio wardrobe.
Styling the Robe or Dressing Gown for Boudoir Portraits
One of the great things about robes for boudoir portraits is they are flattering on all body types. They allow you to show as much, or as little as you are comfortable with while adding soft, flowing lines to the portraits.
What to wear with a robe for a boudoir portrait session
One option is to go with a matching or coordinated chemise or slip. Look for a slip that includes some decorative accents like lace – surface decorations will help separate the two garments and add texture.
Lingerie is also a wonderful option to wear under a robe. Whether it’s a bra and panty or a bustier, structured lingerie makes a fantastic contrast to the drapey robe – and the robe returns the favor by adding softness.
Finally, the robe can be worn on its own with nothing else. This is a classic look that’s been used in intimate portraits for centuries.
Whether worn alone or in combination, a robe provides drama and allows you to easily control how much or how little you show. It’s a fun, versatile tool that offers tons of styling options for your portrait.
What kind of robe should you wear? It’s up to you! Whether it’s a simple silk robe, a sheer peignoir, or a lacey confection adorned with feathers or lace, a beautiful robe can add a look of luxury to your boudoir portraits.