Family, Client Education

What to Wear: Family Sessions

The question I get asked most often by families is what to wear for their family session. Your family portraits are an investment that you will hang on your wall, use on your Christmas card, and cherish for years to come. So it is important to choose outfits that you are comfortable in and that coordinate well together. I have compiled some tips to guide you when it comes to picking out your wardrobe for your next session.

Family Session at Nepco Lake Park.

Start with One Person

Starting with one person’s outfit can make it easier to build out the rest of the family’s clothing. I suggest starting with mom, as women’s clothing has more color and print options. Then after mom’s outfit is selected, choose the rest of the outfits based on that.

Coordinating vs. Matching

Many people think that everyone in the picture needs to match or have the same outfit, but this is not true. You should choose a few colors that look nice together, instead of one color for everyone. Coordinating is far better than matching, and your photos will be far more interesting with some variation!

I recommend having at least three core colors in your palette. After the first outfit is selected, take a look at the accent colors in it, and use those to tie in other family member’s outfits. Keep it interesting by keeping each family member’s primary color different.

When selecting colors, natural solid colors will photograph the best. Avoid patterns with a print that is smaller than a dime, especially small plaids, and small stripes. Add in textures to give your photos more interest (think chunky knits, tulle, lace, belts, etc.). Also, try to avoid bright neon colors, graphic t-shirts, and clothing with busy patterns. If one or two family members outfits have patterns, then the rest of the family members should wear solid colors.

Family Session at the Fireman's Memorial.

Adding Accessories

Accessories help add interest to your images and give you the most complete look. For the girls, try adding a statement necklace, scarf, hairpieces, or headbands. For the boys, try 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.

Stick To One Outfit

To keep things simple, stick to one outfit for each family member. Changing outfits can take time away from your session and put kids in a grumpy mood.

Family Session at North Wood County Park.

Home Decor

Before your session, walk around your home and think about where you are going to hang these photos. You will want to choose colors that go with your decor. For example, if your living room is decorated with light, bright colors, you probably don’t want to wear dark colors in your images. If your nursery has colorful accents, then choose coordinating colors.

Plan for the Weather

Nothing is worse than being miserable or uncomfortable at your photo session. If your session is outdoors in November, plan to wear outfits with long sleeves, sweaters, coats, gloves, scarves, and hats. If your session is in the summer, wear layers so you can easily take items off if you get too hot.

Family Session at the Fireman's Memorial.


Don’t forget your shoes! As shoes are one of the last things to decide on and they are often forgotten. Make sure your shoes coordinate with your outfit, or if you can’t find a pair of shoes you like, you can always go barefoot. Just make sure you have a pair of shoes for walking to different locations.

Try on your clothes in advance

You’ll want to try on your outfits before your session to make sure you are comfortable in them. Try sitting, squatting, and leaning forward to make sure everything fits properly. I also always recommend trying the kid’s clothing 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!

Family Session at Nepco Lake Park.

Tips for the whole family


Don’t be afraid to dress it up! Dresses are the most flattering for women and photograph beautifully. 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.


Chinos and button-up shirts or henleys look sharp, masculine, and tailored in photos. Keep in mind that fitted slacks or khakis, as opposed to cargo styles and jeans, photograph the best. Go ahead and mix it up by adding in a blazer, sport coat or vest, too!

The Kids

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 henleys just like Dad. Little touches like hair accessories, bow ties, and suspenders can add the perfect finishing touch to your photos.

For more outfit inspiration, check out my Pinterest board.

If you still need help on deciding what to wear, please let me know! Feel free to send me any outfit ideas you may have. I would be happy to help you put together some outfits for your session!

You may also like...