What to Wear
GUIDE FOR FAMILIES
A quick step-by-step guide to our top tips and best advice as you choose your outfits!
1. CHOOSE THE LOCATION
Your location matters a lot as you choose your outfits. Consider the overall look you are going for first, and then select your companies based on how they interact with your location.
2. START WITH MOM’S OUTFIT
Each outfit is a building block, and I recommend starting with mom (or daughter). Women’s clothing tends to have more colors and prints, and let’s be honest; our preferences may be the strongest. Wear a dress in your favorite color that you feel good in. Or, consider a skirt/top combo and something slightly dressier than your everyday look. Opt for high-quality fabrics (not t-shirt material) because they hang better.
3. CHOOSE A COLOR PALETTE
After choosing mom’s outfit, choose 2-3 coordinating colors, some neutral and one that pops. The color palette you choose affects the overall look of your photo. Warmer colors like peach, cream, and brown, will give your photos a soft glowing look, while bold and vivid colors will produce a brighter and sharper appearance.
4. THINK MUTED COLORS
Avoid overly saturated and bold colors, as they distract in the photo. Look for MUTED versions of the same color. For example, try a muted dusty rose instead if you have a bright, pink shirt.
5. COORDINATE; DON’T MATCH
Gone are the days when everyone wears matching white polos and khakis for family photos on the beach. Choose colors that complement each other but are not overly matchy-matchy. For example, avoid wearing the same color top as your spouse or putting your girls in the same matching dresses.
6. ADD VARIETY WITH SUBTLE PATTERNS
To add depth and interest to your photos, create dimension by having primarily solids with a few coordinating subtle patterns and textures. Designs are great in small doses and add a lot to your photo. Avoid bold, large prints that can distract from the photo. You want your family photos to be about you and not merely your outfits. Layers are another way to add variety with cardigans, shawls, scarves, etc.
7. FITTED CLOTHING IS YOUR FRIEND
While flowy shirts and dresses are currently in style, they can hide your shape and be less flattering in photos. Find clothes that are neither overly baggy nor too tight, and think about the balance between your upper and lower half. If you have a flowing skirt, choose a fitted top, and with a loose top, choose skinny jeans. It’s all about balance.
8. DRESS FOR THE WEATHER
You might have the perfect outfit on, but a family photo session can quickly unravel if you’re freezing or sweating to death. Layering is the ideal solution for those chilly evenings or sweltering August days! Remember, little ones get cold more quickly than adults when temperatures are low, so pack a cardigan or sweater.
9. JUST BE YOURSELF
Don’t dress like someone else you saw on Pinterest because you found a fantastic outfit idea. You want these photos to represent the real you and your family and not be something you aren’t. This might mean you wear shorts, torn-up jeans, or a boho vintage thrift store dress. Just be you!
10. COORDINATE WITH YOUR INTERIOR STYLE
How you decorate your home says a lot about you and your style. Consider coordinating your outfits to your home décor, as you will likely display your photos on your walls. For example, if your house is decorated in white muted tones, don’t wear bright and bold outfits.
11. OPT FOR CLASSIC OVER TRENDY
Super trendy clothes are so fun because they look amazing now, but think about classic styles and outfits that will not make you cringe in 15 years.
12. INCLUDE YOUR KIDS
Involve your children in planning and choosing outfits. They will be much more excited about family photos if they like what they’re wearing. This doesn’t mean that you should let your daughter wear her favorite princess dress. Instead, incorporate their favorite color. Please don’t make them wear something they do not feel comfortable in. We want your kiddos to have fun!
13. ONLY ONE OUTFIT NEEDED
Multiple outfits can overly complicate the ease of your session. Kids may not be happy to change clothes, and it takes time away from your session. If you have a baby who is drooling, I recommend they wear a bib until you all arrive at your session.
14. REMEMBER THE SHOES
Shoes have the power to complete an outfit or derail it! Consider your session location. For instance, if you are in a field, you won’t be able to walk in stilettos. Avoid bright white shoes, all athletic sneakers, and kids’ shoes with cartoon characters and sparkles. If you can’t find shoes you love, consider having the family go barefoot for the session (bring shoes to walk around at the location!).
15. DON’T WAIT TO TRY ON YOUR CLOTHES UNTIL THE DAY BEFORE
Try on your clothes well in advance to determine if something isn’t working. Look at your outfit from different angles and move around to make sure it works for lifestyle photos. Let's prevent the scenario where your gorgeous v-neck dress keeps gaping wide-open as you cuddle and tickle your sweet kiddos.
FAMILY COLOR PALETTES
You will want to feel comfortable in what you wear. You won't want an outfit that keeps shifting out of place or falling. Choose clothing that allows you to play with your kids, move freely, and feels good on you. For guys, this means that untucked shirts are usually better to play and move around with your kids without adjusting.
Don’t forget earrings, bracelets, hats, or other accessories that help complete your outfit! Ladies, please avoid necklaces as they have a hard time staying in place and can get tangled up in those cuddle and tickle moments with your kids.
Texture is a striking feature and adds great dimension to your photos and helps them stand out. Consider chambray, faux fur, chunky knits, lace, tweed, wool, etc.
Apply your makeup in natural light to prepare for outdoor photos. Apply a little bit more than you normally would, and blend the foundation well with your neck. Please stay away from nude lipsticks as they wash you out, but make sure to wear lip gloss (chapstick for everyone in the family so they don’t have the dry lip look). If you're comfortable, help your eyes pop with natural-length fake eyelashes.
Image credit: https://pin.it/6Utas18
Steer clear of cargo shorts, baggy jeans, and oversized clothing.
THIN STRIPES OR PLAIDS
Thin stripes and tight plaids distort in printed photos and appear zig-zaggy and thus should be avoided.
Avoid outfits that are too formal for your setting. In a natural area, a tuxedo, traditional dress, tie/bowtie might feel out of place.
Dads, leave the shorts at home and opt for pants, so your hairy legs don’t distract from the photo.
White tends to wash out complexions. Choose ivory and creams instead.
BOLD AND DARK COLORS
Dark colors (e.g., navy blues, blacks, dark browns, and grays) should be avoided since they appear black in photos. Also, dark colors can wash out your complexion and create an overly dark feel in the image. Overly saturated colors can distract the photo, so look instead for muted versions. For example, if you have a bright yellow dress, think about a mustard or gold dress instead.
Neon colors can reflect onto your face, causing skin tone problems in your photos. That neon green shirt will reflect upwards on your face and cause you to look green!
Logos or text on clothing is distracting. Avoid shirts that have logos (even just a simple Nike checkmark or Polo horse is distracting).
Unless you love your arms, avoid strapless or sleeveless tops. Sleeves are typically more flattering for everyone!
Guys, it’s best to avoid wearing white undershirts that hang out of the top of your shirt or sleeves.
You might love your Under Armour quick-dry polo but it’s not really the look you want to go for in your family session. Avoid athletic polos or quick-dry shirts and opt for more timeless fabrics.
White tennis shoes, athletic shoes, and character shoes (think Disney princess shoes) should all be avoided. Leather shoes, casual sneakers (think Converse), sandals, slide-on canvas shoes, and wedges are all great options.
LOW-CUT AND OVERLY TIGHT SHIRTS
Low-cut shirts can shift during the session and leave you a little more revealed than you intended. Clothing that is overly tight and clings to you is uncomfortable and can leave bulges and bumps in places you don’t want.
If you typically wear glasses, wear them for your session. But if you have polarized or transitional lenses, consider taking them off. Dark glasses will cover your eyes in the photos.
My personal favorite for women’s dresses
women’s and girl’s dresses
adorable boho options for women
best for kids outfits (specifically boys) and men’s and women’s pieces
unique pieces for women with gorgeous
quality neutral toned options for men
a little something for everyone
Rent the Runway
great option to rent a dress if you only plan to wear it once
expensive but gorgeous dresses for women (bump friendly as well)
men’s shirts and jeans, women’s tops/dresses, and options for teens
vintage henley t-shirts and jeans for men
kid’s boutique with modern vintage clothing
a little something for everyone
Ann Taylor Loft
a little something for everyone
kids outfits and a few options for adults
always great in a pinch and surprisingly good options if you look
Accessible options for everyone
cheap but unique options for women and kids
YOU'VE GOT THIS
Start with one outfit—probably yours, mom, if you feel entirely overwhelmed! Choose something you love that is flattering on you, and then coordinate a few other colors and build from there.
Remember, these photos are about you, your family, and the love and connection you share! Having great outfits is the icing on the cake! If you feel comfortable and confident about your look, you are much more likely to love your photos. I share this advice because I want your outfits to complement and help make the photo, not detract from it.
Please don’t stress. Reach out if you have any questions. Let’s document these sweet moments and preserve these memories!
YOUR FAMILY IS IMPERFECTLY PERFECT
Your photo session day is finally here! Take a deep breath and enjoy the moments connecting and making memories together!
If you feel stressed, your kids will sense it and likely fall apart. Every family is beautiful, even with quirks, imperfections, and rough edges. Embrace who you are as a family, and let’s capture that!
Also, your memory of the session is intrinsically tied to the photo, so my goal as a photographer is to create a fun and memorable experience, playing and making memories with your kids so that when you look back at your photos, you are filled with only the warmest of feelings and love for those you cherish most!