What to Wear Guide
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What to Wear Guide

I make no secret in communications with my clients that wardrobe is an ESSENTIAL piece of the puzzle as we work together to create your portrait art. I encourage all my clients to feel free to text me (sometimes right from the store!) if they want my opinion on an item of clothing. Choosing the right outfits can really make or break the session (no pressure right?)

Here are a few tips as you go about trying to put together outfits for all of your family members.

  1. When in doubt, start with mom.  I know from experience that it is by far more difficult for me to find something I feel that I look fabulous in than my kids (who look gorgeous in anything) or my husband (who looks amazing in just a pair of jeans and any shirt!) So mom, find something in your closet or purchase something you love and go from there.
  2. Coordinate, don’t match. You know those pictures of a whole family wearing jeans and a white shirt (usually barefoot on a beach?) Yeah, we don’t want that. Pick a color scheme featuring one primary color, one secondary color and have all the outfits draw from those colors but in differing ways. Don’t shy away from mixing in patterns and stripes. As long as there is a color scheme, it will look wonderful! The only thing to be conscious of using this method is that there is a balance among family members- you don’t want one person’s outfit to be exponentially bolder than another.
  3. Keep it simple. Please avoid logos, characters and anything else that will date your images. Our goal is to create timeless images, ones that you will be proud to have hanging on your walls for generations!
  4. Details Details Details… PLEASE don’t spend your hard earned money and precious time putting together the perfect outfit and then show up on picture day with the children in light-up sneakers or something similarly incongruous with the timeless look we are trying to achieve. It’s happened more times than I can count and I promise you they will stick out like a sore thumb in the images.
  5. Accessorize! It’s hard to overstate how the simple addition of necklace for mom, a hairbow for girls, or a cute hat or suspenders for boys can take an image from ho-hum to sublime!
  6. Start with the goal in mind.  If you are having a hard time narrowing down a color scheme, think of the room that you eventually wish to hang your portraits in and what would complement the decor in that room. If you have all neautrals that could go with anything, take a look in your closet: Chances are you already gravitate towards certain colors but just don’t know it!
  7. Use one source.  If you are starting from scratch and going shopping, it can really help to choose a store that carries men’s, women’s and children’s clothes such as Zara, H&M (my personal favorite), Gap or Old Navy. Every brand has a color story that it works with each season and your chances of finding outfits that coordinate with each other will greatly increase by shopping in the same store.
  8. When in doubt bring it all! I once had a dad show up with a whole suitcase of outfits for his twins. I loved it! It gave us the chance to go through everything together and we came up with several great looks.

For those of you who like visual inspiration, here are a few examples of sessions I’ve done where wardrobe was spot on and I’ve commented on why it works:

Shayna, (a photographer herself!) choose a color scheme of mustard and gray. She bought the children’s pieces from the same store (Zara) and they both had the mustard color in them. This is a great example of most of the tips above. She chose a color scheme and mixed patterns and solids beautifully and paid attention to even the shoe and tights colors and the results were wonderful! We corresponded by email quite a bit during the selection process and I’m happy to do that for all of my clients.

The browns and creams I chose for our own family self portrait a few years ago work well together. I wish I had mixed it up a bit with a pattern somewhere, but it was a last minute decision to go take these so I was improvising! This image is now hanging HUGE in our living room where I enjoy it every single day.

This family chose a plum and grey color theme and carried it through with dad’s plum sweater matching the plum in the pattern of the girls’ dresses and also in the hair accessories. This is a great example of mixing patterns and solids but having everything feel cohesive!

You can never go wrong with Jewel tones, particularly in the fall! The way that the colors that mom and dad are wearing can also be found in the pattern on the daughter’s dress is what makes this work. And tall boots are always a win for moms in the fall.

For these twins, mom shopped at Gap kids for both outfits so it was easy to coordinate since the theme of that season was fur, cream, pinks and plums. Notice also how the hair accessories and fur lined boots create a complete look.

Notice how the the mustard/gold sweater of the younger brother coordinates with the same color stripe in the older brother’s plain shirt. Another great example of mixing solids and patterns.

A great spring look! Mom started with the tangerine dress and coordinated the family around her. Denim with a few coordinating accent colors is always a win. This is also a good example of how casual doesn’t have to = sloppy. Dad looks comfortable and contemporary in his jeans and flip flops, but they are dark brown and almost look leather. The look would have suffered had they been the plastic kind of flip flops.

These are just a few examples, there are many places to get inspiration, Pinterest being one of my very favorite tools for finding and gathering ideas. And when in doubt if x goes with y, or which hat or hair bow PLEASE feel free to ask me ahead of time, or just bring them all along to the session!