This time of year, I often get the question “what should I wear for family pictures?” This specific event has the potential to cause a LOT of stress, so here are a few tips to help the experience go smoother.

  • Decide the general vibe you want for your photos first. Do you want to look super fancy or are you going for casual? This is often determined by the shoot location- but consider what would logically look the best. For example, I wouldn’t wear a cocktail dress in a field. Heels + dirt is never a good combination.
  • Lay out the entire look for every family member together in natural light and take a picture of them a week beforehand. This gives great perspective about prints/combinations. Yes, I said a week. At least. Also, TRY THEM ALL ON. I can’t tell you how many texts I get the night before a shoot from friends panicking about something not fitting a kid, or a shirt having a hole in it, etc. This includes ironing, dry cleaning, washing, etc. The night before is not the time to do it.
  • Outfit coordination isn’t complicated if you always think in color “families.” For example, black and white always look great. For fall I combine navy, burgundy, mustard, rust, etc. If this is a holiday card- reds and greens always look lovely. Do NOT combine a ton of prints. If one person is wearing plaid- let everyone else wear solids. Too many patterns will look busy – so pick one and stick with it.
  • Use Pinterest if necessary. Seriously, this is an underutilized resource.
  • When in doubt, layer. Layers are the number one secret to pulling an outfit together. It could be a jean jacket or a blazer for you, a sweater or a jacket for him, a hat for the kiddos- whatever. Layers are your friend and fall weather is perfect for it! Also, if you have a printed dress you love, layer a jacket over it. It will tone down the print and allow the rest of the outfits to shine equally.
  • DO NOT MATCH. I think it’s cute when the mom and daughter match or the father and son, but don’t have everyone in the same thing. (I’m looking at you- white shirt and jeans epidemic from the 90’s.)
  • Don’t force it. If the family look isn’t coming together the way you need it to, pick the best item from the group and work around it. For example: If I love Alexander’s shirt and pants – Ian and I can rework our outfits around that. If there is only one top you feel comfortable in- build the look around that.

Lastly, if you have kids, especially young ones, give yourself some grace with the end result. Our poised family shots are more often than not dominated by toddler shenanigans. For example:

Our child was NOT loving that pose. The picture is hilarious, but he was literally worm’ing out of my lap. For those pictures, we kept it simple with shades of navy, mustard, and tan. If you want to use a bit more pattern you could do something like this:

Or this:

All in all, just try to have fun! The best pictures are when people are genuinely smiling, so enjoy the moment! (And prep ahead of time- it will help a TON!)

If you want some cute dress ideas, here are a few of my favorites:

Thank you to all of the ladies that linked up with us last week for the theme “Fall Staples!” Our favorites from last week are Mary Leigh from What Mama Wore, Grace from Color and Grace, and Alicia from Between the Pearls! We loved your outfits, ladies!!!


Adriele