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What to Wear and What NOT to Wear

Updated: May 14, 2021

One of the questions I am asked most frequently by my clients is “What should we wear?” And it’s no wonder! Your photos will be adorning the walls of your home and probably your Christmas card, they will be passed down for generations to come. It is understandable that you want to look your best!

I have compiled a few Family Portrait Session tips here that I am hoping will help you feel less overwhelmed when it comes time to pick out your wardrobe for your next photo session. Keep in mind that these are all just ideas! You certainly do not have to implement ALL of them… or ANY of them for that matter! The most important thing is that your photos are a reflection of YOU. But if you’re feeling stuck, or just need some inspiration, here are a few tips to guide you.


I often encourage mom to decide on her outfit first, and then build out the rest of the family’s clothing from there. Find something to wear that makes you feel beautiful! If you feel good in what you are wearing, it will transfer to your photos. Being comfortable and confident will make a huge difference in how you feel and how relaxed you are in front of the camera.

Don’t be afraid to dress it up! Dresses are the most flattering for women, and photograph beautifully. Long dresses with movement add an extra touch of grace and elegance to your photos! Consider softer fabrics like chiffon or tulle for an extra romantic and classy feel.

Adding in a statement accessory or two is a great way to finish the look, and these photograph beautifully. If you’re looking for a way to tie in your color palette or to give a finishing touch to your outfit, statement accessories are always a win!


Button-up shirts look sharp, masculine and tailored in photos. Keep in mind that fitted slacks, khakis, or jeans as opposed to cargo styles, look the most put together and photograph the best.

Go ahead and mix it up by adding in a blazer, sport coat or vest, too! This is a great way to layer and add color or additional texture, and gives Dad’s outfit a nice handsome finish.


For the girls, dresses and skirts are always a go-to! Especially for those fun twirling pictures! And boys look fantastic in slacks, button-ups or jackets just like Dad. Little touches like hair accessories, bow ties and suspenders can add the perfect finishing touch to your photos.

I always recommend trying the kiddo’s clothing on ahead of the session to make sure that it fits and they are comfortable in it. This can save a lot of headaches on picture day!

Coordinating outfits

There is an old fashioned idea floating around that everyone in the picture needs to match. This is not true! Choose colors that look nice together, but don't fall into the trap that you all need to be wearing the exact same outfit or color. Coordinating is far better than matching. Your photos will be far more interesting with some variation!

I always recommend having at least three core colors in your palette. After you’ve selected your own outfit, take a look at the accent colors in it, and use those to tie in the outfits of everyone else. Keep it interesting by keeping each person’s primary color different. For example, if you are wearing a cream dress with blush accents/accessories and brown leather shoes (with your primary color being cream), your husband could wear navy slacks with a simple cream or blue shirt and tan blazer (his primary color being tan); one child could wear a blush dress with cream accents, and another could wear khaki slacks with a cream shirt and a navy vest.

Finishing the look

When you’ve settled on the outfits for each person, you can start thinking about how to finish the look. Keep in mind that layers and accessories will always give you the most complete look. For the girls, consider adding a statement necklace, scarf, or hair pieces or headbands. For the boys, consider accessories such as a vest, belt, jacket, hat, suspenders, ties or bow ties. These are simple, but perfect ways to give a perfect finishing touch to your photos.

Remember, in spite of everything else, the most important thing for you to remember is to just enjoy your family. Let this be a time that you have fun with each other, tell silly stories, and laugh a lot! At the end of the day, it won’t matter nearly as much if you were having a bad hair day, if the location was perfect or not, or if your kids weren’t listening to your every word.

You will look back on these pictures and remember these fleeting moments, and how quickly they went.

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