What to Wear for your Couple’s or Family Portraits
Alrighty then, it’s almost picture time! You’ve picked your portrait session date; we’ve talked about the schedule, where to meet, and brainstormed photo concepts. There’s a lot going on, and I’m sure you’re thinking, “I’m excited, a little nervous, and OMG, WHAT DO I WEAR FOR MY PORTRAITS!?!??!”
As we reflect on all our memories, it’s hard to recall ones that doesn’t include our families or our parents together. There’s something special about looking back on family portraits over the years past. Family & Couples photos are a moment saved in time that will be cherished forever. So, when it comes to what to wear for picture day make sure you plan ahead.
I know your portraits are important to you, and I aim to make your session as seamless and carefree as possible. To help, I’ve built a quick guide for what to wear, so you can look and feel your best for your couples or family portraits.
Coordinate colors or color tones
What to wear
- Neutral, coordinating colours. Do not match! Like I said above, not every colour or fit works for every person. Mix colours that go well together but are not exactly the same. This is easiest done using neutral colours, which will also weather the years better than bright, bold colours.
- Patterns like plaids, stripes, and florals. You can even mix-and-match them, and don’t be afraid to layer them with solid colours and denims.
- Fitted clothes. Tailored outfits will always look better than loose-fitting clothing. If you feel the need, wear Spanx to smooth rolls (we all have them). Also, you should choose a cut that works best on each family member’s body type.
- Closed-toe shoes. There are few instances when you should go barefoot or wear sandals, but in general most people should wear closed-toed shoes. This can include fashionable boots, dress shoes, and sneakers.
- Jeans. It is not an absolute, but don’t be afraid of them, including torn jeans if that’s your style.
- Sleeves. Of course take the season into account when choosing the cut of your top, but most people should wear sleeves.
- Layers. Often my clients like to get a little bit of wardrobe variety in their portrait session, but let me tell you that with kids you won’t have time to change! Family sessions usually move along rather quickly as we try to fit in as many shots as possible while children are cooperating. So by layering rather than bringing a change of clothes you can quickly and easily change up your look.
How to dress your kids
- Avoid dressing your little ones in short dresses as they have a tendency to ride up. Be sure that the outfit you’ve chosen to dress your little one in is play-time appropriate.
- Use spandex shorts if you are putting your child in a dress just in case.
- Try your best to hide diapers. Bloomer pants are a great choice, and a longer shirt (tucked in or not) will help as well. It is not absolutely imperative that diapers are covered up. I recommend that you do a wardrobe test-run and if you find yourself fiddling with your child’s clothing to cover up their mid-section, diaper, or underpants, choose a different outfit.
- Be careful with accessories. Often children don’t want to wear hats or scarves and will remove them. In other cases they’ll use them to hide from the camera. Remember that the important part is not the outfit, but the moments that are captured of your family. Just go with the flow if your child removes accessories to avoid crying.
Keep it simple.
When in doubt, go neutral
You can never go wrong with neutral colors. If you’re struggling to find coordinating color tones, one (or both) of you can always opt for neutral tones. These include shades of black, white, gray, cream, and ivory. Earthy tones are also considered neutral, so colors like navy and olive green are great, too. Neutrals are also a great way to ensure that attention goes directly to your and your family’s beautiful faces — not to what you are wearing.
Comfort is still key
No matter how coordinated you get, both you, your partner and/or family should feel as comfortable as possible. It’s your day to shine in the spotlight, so neither of you want to be thinking about how uncomfortable you are the entire time. In the end, that will make the photos look less authentic. Dress for confidence and show off your personalities through your clothing. When you feel great, your pictures will look great.
What not to wear
- Unfitted t-shirts. This includes any kind of loose t-shirt or sport top.
- Anything with logos or graphics. In my experience the only acceptation to this rule is children who cannot yet walk (because they literally cannot object to being dressed in hilariously ironic and adorable clothing).
- Ball caps or practically any other kind of hat. Though you’ll see fashionable hats on Pinterest, that fashionable hat will leave a shadow over your eyes and a red ring around your forehead.
- Sleeveless shirts, strapless tops, or halter tops. This is not a hard rule, but I recommend that people wear sleeves. The brightest part of your photographs will be the most noticeable. Because our faces are generally always exposed to the sun and our arms often aren’t, the skin on our arms is usually lighter than our faces. This can be exaggerated in photographs, and result in a very distracting arm situation.
- Anything that shows your bra straps or under pants.
- Cargo pants.
- All white or all black.
- Velcro sandals, any kind of running shoe or skate shoe, or crocks.
- Snuggies. (I’ve never seen it happen, but I thought I better put it on the list just in case.)
- Short dresses. A short dress can significantly limit your ability to pose comfortably for your photos. Test out your favourite dress to see if it’s appropriate for your session by sitting on the ground. If you cannot comfortably sit in it, it will be best to choose a dress that is longer or opt for pants.