What to wear for Family Sessions

Philadelphia Family Photographer, Bucks County Family Photography, Photography Studio Near Me, What to wear for Family Portraits

Probably one of the most daunting tasks when you want new family portraits, is planning what you are going to all wear! Gone are the days of jeans and white tee-shirt mini-armys. Say bye-bye to the kids all wearing the same exact matching intricately knitted itchy sweater vest. There is no longer a “family portrait uniform”! We’ve evolved past all of this!

Our Generation is much more stylish and individualized, and there is no reason your family portrait attire shouldn’t show off your personal style. That being said there are obvious rules depending on your chosen session locations. You are not going to want to wear spiked heels if you are in the middle of a rustic farm field, unless you plan to plant seeds in the holes you create in the mud. I would also advise dressing for the season your are having your photos taken in, sweaters on the beach in summer do not result in smiling toddlers. See? Obvious.

Below you will find a run down of my top tips for choosing the perfect family wardrobe every time.

Start with mom.

Ladies I think you can agree with me when I say “I can never find anything to wear!” As women we have a ridiculous plethora of options when it comes to clothes shopping. I personally have an overstuffed closet at home but I still can never find anything for an event or even picture day! So I think it’s safe to say we have the hardest time choosing an outfit. So this is where you want to start. You need to find something that flatters you as you are now, be it post baby, pre-baby, or the best shape of your life. We all have an ideal body that we will get back to at some point but the important part is dressing for the body you have right now. Find something that flatters you. If you feel great in your outfit, that will shine through in your images.

It’s easiest to find cute kids outfits that can coordinate with your outfit, and let’s face it dad’s don’t really have that many options. For dads it’s always pants or shorts, shoes and a shirt, but basing these items off mom’s outfit help to coordinate the color palette.

Shop in a color palette

In this world of pinterest, I’m sure you’ve seen color palettes. If not, it’s basically a set of colors that go well together. Inspiration for your color palette can come from a few different places. One being the room in which you plan to hang your family portrait. If you have decorated this room in tans, burgundy and brown, you are probably not going to want to wear neon pinks and blues, that is not going to give you a harmonious flow I’m sure you have in mind.

Another place to look for inspiration is your chosen location, if you are on the beach in spring or summer you may want to go for soft pinks, blues, greens or cream. If you are in the park in the tall grasses during fall, navy, hunter green, burgundy and denim look great. Basically you want to avoid your family looking out of place in the surrounding scene. Many people ask me “Will we blend in if we wear_____” and my answer is usually no. Your family will be the center of attention in the image, even if I shoot a wide open landscape style image, I always place my subject in the perfect spot in frame. Unless you are wearing ghillie suits for your fall session, I will make sure you stand out no matter what you wear.

Shop for classic looks

Now considering what I said earlier about our generation being very individualized and stylish, I also want to put out the caveat It’s ok to shop on trend but watch out it’s not TOO trendy. The fashion industry changes so quickly and so often it’s hard to make styles really stick around. For example, I give you the 80’s, or early 90’s. Clothing of these eras is very specific to those eras, I’m sure your parents have told you about their crazy bell bottoms from the 70’s ( my father had a pair of american flag ones). I bet you remember the side ponies our mom’s fixed in our hair with bright yellow scrunchies before sending us off to elementary school. So I get that it’s not something you can always get away from but I highly advise you to keep the super trendy stuff to a minimum. Instead shop for classic clean silhouettes, something that will stand the test of time and not date your images.

Try it on (the whole outfit)

There is nothing worse than picture day rolling around and you are finally taking the tags off your clothes and putting your new dress on for the first time and realizing the bra you thought was going to work actually hangs out pretty badly and you have no time to get a new one. You will spend the entire session worrying about your bra showing instead of having a great time with the kids and focusing on the experience. This also goes for the kids, I know my son it one size on top but a totally smaller size in the waist. So I can’t just buy him pants and assume they will fit, even things in his size fall off his tiny little waist. It’s important that clothing fits well and isn’t too tight or too loose, both can cause you to look heavier than you really are. Trying it on is especially important when shopping online. We’ve all received a dress that did not look like the picture. That being said…

Shop Early

You may have to return some things or exchange for another size, and if that item is totally out of stock you’re going to need time to find a suitable replacement item or outfit. Shipping back and forth or trying to find time to get back to the store take a lot more time than you think. Do not leave outfit choices to the week before your session, start shopping and planning WEEKS ahead of time.

Don’t be afraid of texture or patterns

I love a good chunky sweater or soft lace dress or cardigan, and they actually photograph very well and add a ton of interest to the images. You do not have to stick to just solids, which many think are “safe” but they are also kind of boring. Imagine mom have a lovely army green tshirt dress, it’s good, safe, simple but you could make it even better with a little texture or pattern. I would probably put a pretty lace duster and a pair of brown ankle boots with this dress to add a little more interest. Another example would be when you go casual for head shots or branding shots and wear jeans and a t-shirt, adding a chunky and over sized knit cardigan worn just off the should adds a lot more interest to the image.


Another thing that adds interest to an image is accessories! A good hat, a great set of earrings or a necklace really complete the outfit. Now this is something else I’m going to make sure to point out that you need to try on with your outfit. You want to make sure the bow you got for your daughter isn’t a different shade of blue than her dress, if it is go with another one of your coordinating colors from your color palette, honestly I would probably suggest that over matching it anyway. You also want to make sure that long necklace you got doesn’t get caught on your shirt or dress or fall somewhere that looks awkward with your outfit.

Have Fun!

Choosing outfits is just the first step in the fun of a family portrait session. Take it Step by step and if you need help consult a very stylish friend who knows you well. They will be able to help while still being true to who you are. There are also professional resources you can find online such as Style & Select, which really takes the guess work out and makes it very easy to plan with guided resources.