It’s quite a task to decide what to wear for your family or engagement portrait session. Especially if you have a picky 5 year old (or fiancé) you are trying to coordinate with. Here are a few tips about choosing outfits that will work well at a portrait session. And some things not to do.
1. Select your color palette or theme.
A good way to pick your colors is to open a magazine and find a photo you like. Then pull the same colors for your wardrobe. It’s a good idea to pick 2-4 colors and 2 neutrals (jeans count as a neutral, and in my world they go with everything). Design Seeds is a fabulous reference for selecting a color palette.
If you are going with a theme, do not dress like twinkies! For example, if your theme is baseball, do not show up with everyone wearing a Rangers t-shirt. Instead, go with a color palette of blue, red, gray, black, white, etc… and maybe one person has on a Rangers t-shirt layered under a plaid button up shirt and a different person has on a baseball hat.
2. Separate your colors.
Don’t put mom and dad in the same color because they will often be next to each other in the photo. Same goes for mom and baby, they will probably be paired together. Also, if one person is wearing a solid blue shirt another person could be wearing a sheer blue patterned scarf. Don’t forget to pull your colors to the bottom by using leggings or tights, colorful shoes, or colored jeans. And for those of you who think it’s cute to dress like your fiancé, it could be, but your photos will look better if you compliment each other instead of match.
3. Layer to give dimension.
That doesn’t just mean throw a sweater over your t-shirt. Think about all possibilities: hats, scarves, necklaces, headbands, tights, tall boots, cardigans, blazers, vests, unbuttoned button up shirts, belts, leggings, colored undershirts etc… Choose a variety of layering options and try not to repeat them too many times (matchy-matchy is never good).
4. Pick your comfort level.
I always recommend wearing what you are most comfortable in (errrr…. maybe not your yoga pants….) but think more along the lines of what you would wear as dressy casual. This usually means jeans, khakis, casual skirts on bottom and blouses, polos, button ups, cardigans on top. Hats, belts and scarves are fun accessories and so are colorful shoes. If you only wear a suit and tie to a wedding or funeral, you should probably skip the tie for your photos. But if you wear that to work every day then it won’t appear as uncomfortable in photos. Same for platform heels.
5. Things you should not do.
I know it’s tempting to just throw in the towel and show up in jeans and a white polo on everyone (or red t-shirt, or navy blazer… ok, you get it). Not only is this not a good idea, it’s probably not flattering on everyone in the photo. And you don’t want to look like your photo was taken 20 years ago.
Don’t wear a lot of patterns or the photo can look too busy. A few patterned pieces will give dimension though.
Mom, don’t pick your outfit last. You do enough to of putting yourself on the back burner.