What to Wear for Your Family Portraits

You’ve done it: you’ve hired a photographer and chosen a location for this year’s family portraits. Now you’re staring at your closet trying to decide what in the world to wear.  Don’t worry! There are lots of options that will look great in your album and on your walls.  Here are a couple of things to think about.

Blend, Don’t Match

We’ve all seen endless Pinterest posts with the whole family in white shirts and jeans, but the matchy-matchy days are over!  You’re not all the same, and you don’t dress exactly alike on normal days, so there’s no need to all dress alike for your portraits, either.  Think about choosing a color scheme with colors that blend rather than colors that match. Your portraits will look beautiful and will look like YOU.

Think About Your Walls

Many of my clients choose wall art from their family portrait sessions. Think about how the colors in your portraits will look with the paint colors in your home.  Again, they don’t need to match exactly, but they shouldn’t clash, either.  You can fit a 16×20 portrait in nearly any room and gallery clusters or larger pieces tend to fit well over mantles, over beds, and on stairways.  Think about where you might want to hang your artwork and let the colors in those rooms guide you as you make clothing decisions.

Avoid Bright Colors and Busy Patterns

Bright colors, busy patterns, graphics, and words will all be distracting in your family portraits.  We want attention to go to your faces, not your clothing.  Neutrals, jewel tones, and pastels will almost always look better than bright colors, whether on your walls or in your album. Earth tones look great for fall portraits, and blues, greens, and the occasional coral work beautifully on the beach.  

Vary the Fit

Stylists recommend blending looser and tighter fitting pieces to create your outfit. If you’re wearing fitted jeans, consider a flowy top, or if your top fits snugly, think about a long skirt or looser pants to go with it. That will add some visual interest to your portrait and will keep you from looking like you’re drowning in or popping out of your clothing.

Add Some Texture

Clothing looks great with some variety in texture.  Consider adding a scarf, a chunky or mixed-metal necklace, a belt, or a jacket to your outfit to add a little something extra to your portraits. You can also choose one or two people in your family to create a little textural interest rather than having every single person wear an accessory piece.

Avoid Black

Black clothing will show every speck of dust or stray hair that sticks to you. It looks great on you but not so great in your portraits. It’s worth bringing along a lint roller to your portrait session if you’re wearing darker colors, too!

Need Help?  Ask Us!

We’re happy to review your clothing choices prior to your session to make suggestions or offer feedback!  Feel free to text or email some snapshots of the outfits you’re thinking about, and we’ll be glad to give you some input.  Completely stuck?  We can refer you to a personal stylist for shopping help!  You’re investing in your portraits, and it’s important to feel good in the clothes you wear.

Get Inspired!


We’ve put together some Pinterest boards with color palettes and outfit ideas for you!  Have a look at our Family Portrait Inspiration board here: https://www.pinterest.com/rachelsmookphotography/family-portrait-inspiration/.


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We can’t wait to photograph your beautiful family!

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