What to Wear for Your Family Photos

Updated: May 11, 2019

One of the most asked questions I hear before a session is, “What do we wear?”

I have some good news for you! I can come to your home to style from your current wardrobe, or I can guide your new purchases based on your taste. Use these tips to help pick the perfect outfits for your session.

Look at your home decor.

Are your walls neutral, warm colors, or subtle cool tones? Since you will be hanging these photos in your house you want to make sure the colors of your clothes go with the color scheme of your home.

Coordinate colors.

Focus on one person first and pull colors from their outfit. The goal is to aim for 2 to 3 colors to build everyone’s outfits around. Shirts and dress colors should be within the same color palette or be complementary colors, rather than everyone in identical colors. Identical colors tend to look too “matchy.” Pants and skirts can be similar or identical in color, for example: light denim, dark denim, tan khakis. Women’s clothing is more colorful than men’s clothing. I always tell Moms to start with picking a color they like best for the girls, then put the guys in a more neutral color.

Limit patterns.

I usually suggest having an outfit in the mix that has all or most of the colors from your palette in it. However, not everyone in the photo should wear patterns as it may distract the final image.

Choose classic over trendy. These photos will be hanging on your walls and treasured for years to come. By choosing simple, classic clothes you will help give your images a timeless feel.

Choose evergreen styling. Select an outfit that is appropriate year round. One of the more popular times for families to take their portraits seems to be around the holidays (when the kids are home from school and everyone is in the same place). The holidays may seem like the perfect excuse to bring out the Santa hats and incorporate props into your family portraits. However, you’ll want these photos to be displayed all year round. Try to avoid purely seasonal accessories and items.

One patterned dress creates the color palette for this family. The patterns are varied with some bold and some subtle for a great coordination of outfits.


1. COMFORT. Above all, if you feel good, you will look good! Choose clothing that gives you freedom of movement, keeps you warm/cool, and won’t require a lot of maintenance throughout your session.

2. TEXTURE. Add some visual interest to your images with unique fabrics. Some examples: lace, cable knits, chambray, tweed, herringbone, chambray, faux fur, wool

3. PATTERNS. Don’t be scared of patterns and prints! They can work great in moderation. Try one statement piece (for instance, a colorful floral dress for mom) and one subtle pattern (maybe tiny polka dots for baby girl), and then keep the rest of the family more simple.

4. LAYERS AND ACCESSORIES. These are the quickest way to take your outfits from average to amazing! Think scarves, blazers, cardigans, belts, jewelry, fun socks, and hats.

5. FITTED CLOTHING. We don’t want your clothing to be too baggy or too tight. Properly fitted clothing looks put together and will show your shape. For women, your upper half and lower half should be balanced: so for instance, blousy shirt + skinny pants, or tight shirt + flowing skirt.

6. CLASSIC CHOICES. Try to steer away from current trends, since they’ll date your photos 10 years from now.


1. BRIGHT WHITE. If you love white, try off-white or ivory instead.

2. NEON COLORS. These create skin tone/color cast issues.

3. LOGOS & TEXT. Words will draw attention away from your faces.

4. HOLIDAY COLORS. Even if you’re planning to use these images for your holiday cards, steer away from holiday-colored clothing and let your card design incorporate those instead. That way you’ll be able to enjoy your images year-round!

5. SHORT-SLEEVED T-SHIRTS. Button-down or structured shirts generally look better in photos. If you have your heart set on a t-shirt, try layering a blazer on top.

6. TINY PLAID & COMPLICATED PATTERNS. These don’t always translate well in-camera.

Blog posts coming soon:

Clothing color palettes for every season.

Shopping for your session

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