Family Portraits: The 3 Rules of What To Wear



Family in teal at Oshawa Valley Botanical Gardens

What should we wear?


This question is one I get with almost every family session I book, and I totally get it. Trying to dress your family for the perfect family portrait is serious business and it can cause a ton of extra stress. Before you pick out your wardrobe for your next family portrait take a look at my top 3 rules for family portrait wardrobe and hopefully this will help!



Family in navy on fallen log at Dilworth Mountain Park

Rule 1 - No Graphics or Wording


I know, I know, its tradition. Your husband wants everyone to wear his favourite hockey team jersey or your teen boy hates photos so you just want to let him wear what he wants. Just don't. Graphics on your clothes in portraits look terrible. You want to keep things clean and classic.


Family newborn studio portrait

Rule 2 - Matching is Out, Coordinating is In


It might be easier to tell everyone to wear a white shirt and jeans, but coordinating is so much better. What I advise clients to do is to pick a colour scheme that involves 3-4 colours. Two of those colours should be neutral tones and the other 1-2 colours can be more fun. Then have everyone stick to those colours. This of course begs the question, how should we pick the colours? One of the best ways I have found to do this is to pick one outfit first that you really love and build everyone else's outfits around it. If you have one family member that is tougher to get on board with photos it helps to start with them. Let them help pick out what they feel comfortable and confident wearing and then build from there. Keep in mind that its okay to have prints. Florals, plaids and stripes add some great variation to the overall look. Just don't over use them! You don't want everyone to show up in a different pattern, but one or two people can be nice and can help pull all the colours together. Another important thing to consider when choosing your colour scheme is to think about where the family portrait will be displayed. If you're planning to place a beautiful piece of wall art above the mantle in your living room and its decorated in grey and red you may not want everyone wearing teal and navy in the portrait.



Family outdoor fall photo by creek at Oshawa Valley Botanical Gardens

Rule 3 - Consider the Season


Nothing can kill a portrait session faster than a miserable toddler (or a miserable husband for that matter!) and nothing makes toddlers and husbands more miserable at a session than being dressed all wrong for the weather. If its late fall and chilly, don't send the little girls out in sleeveless dresses. If its mid July, don't put anyone in long sleeves or heavy fabrics. Consider the season for colour choice as well. For an outdoor session in the middle of summer when everything is green you don't want to be wearing the same colour as the foliage because you'll just get lost. In Spring and Summer brighter colours do well. White is also really nice in warmer months as it feels more light and airy and you look great with whatever colour of flowers are around. In the fall or winter I've found jewel tones to all work really nicely as do neutral tones like browns, creams and greys.


Keep these rules in mind and you'll have your family looking fantastic for your next family portrait!


Sunset family portrait on bridge with dog



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