La Grange Family Photographer – 10 easy steps for choosing your outfits for your family portrait

Family pictures + Christmas cards. Those two things usually make moms worry, shop, worry and shop again.

Do you really need to do that? No…but there is some kind of pressure that goes along with the “once a year family pictures” that usually stays on people’s refrigerators for the year.  To ease the burden, I wanted to share some tips for styling and dressing your family for photos this year! Easy tips to making your Christmas photos super easy!

When you have children, it seems the stress-struggle is real. There are more people to add to the photo, even after you’ve chosen your perfect outfit! Not only do you have to get yourself ready, but you have to get the whole family ready for the one picture to make the Christmas card. Then you worry about everyone looking and smiling for at least ONE photo. It’s not easy.



  1. Choose ONE Outfit You Love First –Do your shopping several weeks beforehand and find ONE outfit you really love, whether it is yours, your daughters’ or your husbands. That way you can base everything else off of that.  Keep in mind color and season when you are choosing outfits and where you may hang it in your hoe if you end up with a wall worthy portrait! Also, make sure that you feel comfortable and great in what you choose! It will show, I promise
  2. Coordinate Colors without Matching – Once you pick that one outfit you will know what other colors complement the tones. Navy, denim, fuchsia – these colors are complementary but don’t “match.”  If everyone wore one color, it would take away from making the photo work.  Try to not have everyone dress in white or black, but colors that coordinate.  If you aren’t sure about if a color works well, you can just search online the color and it’s opposite on the color wheel.  Did you know that light colors can make you look larger than you are?
  3. Pick a Great Photographer– Do your research and choose a photographer that has your style of photography.  If you are a family of 8, you might not want to choose a photographer who is not used to working with large groups.  Kids are not the easiest to photograph so you will want to be confident that your photographer can handle your group. If you aren’t sure if your outfits work for the setting, just check with your photographer so you can all be on the same page! Open communication will make for understanding and understanding makes for great photos!
  4. Plan Before the Shoot– Plan in advance to make sure that your clothing fits right, is steamed/ironed and accessories are ready to go on the day of the shoot.  There is nothing that stresses a person out more than having to run around and find something right before getting ready including nice looking shoes or boots. (let’s be honest, this takes forever on family photo days) so lay it all out, make sure it works and plan ahead of time. Don’t forget to think about any special undergarments that might be needed because wearing the wrong color panties can be disastrous.   This is some of the best advice, I think, because stressed people don’t make happy photos! Relax and know that you’ve done the work before.  When it comes time for the shoot, relax, wear the lovely clothes you chose and have FUN!
  5. Dress for Comfort– If you aren’t comfortable in what you’re wearing, or your husband’s shirt is too stiff or he had to dress in 18 layers, he is probably not going to be comfortable in the photo! This is so important with kids, and if they aren’t comfortable they are not going to be happy! Try to keep in mind that you can find stylish clothes that are still comfortable.  Layers are always nice especially if you are trying to hide something you don’t love about  yourself. Uncomfortable clothes make uncomfortable people which makes uncomfortable photos!
  6. Pattern Ratio– Stick with one or two people  in subtle patterns and the others in solids. You don’t want too much going on in the photo that it takes away from your faces and your beautiful family, so lean to the minimal side of patterns.  I love a good leopard print (leopard is a neutral, right?) but, you are not going to want leopard head to toe on anyone.  If you aren’t sure, try it on and ask a friend! If you are styling for a large 6+ family in the photo, two or three patterns won’t be too much, just make sure they are offset and the photographer places them to make it work (not all right next to each other). Textures are also great for depth in the photo!  If you will most likely have to hold your six month old, make sure your outfits work well together.
  7. Pre-Photo Your Photo Clothes– This sounds silly and like a lot of work, right? Well you’ve probably laid it out to make sure it all flows, right? Just snap a picture on your phone (make sure it’s good lighting and not dark) and look at the photo. You can even send it to friends to see what they think (just make sure you can take constructive criticism). This will give you confidence in knowing that it looks great together, and will be even greater when your family has the clothes on in their smiling faces!
  8. Trendy isn’t Always Better– Try to stick with some timeless pieces.  I think one or two trends are great, but as you know, trends come and go.  You are not going to want to look back in 10 years and think What in the world was I wearing? 
  9. Shop Around– As much as you probably want a one-stop-shop for everyone in your family, I don’t know a place that you can find EVERYONE something that complements each other. Step out of your comfort zone and mix and match from different places. Try to stay away from logos, brands written on the front or back of clothing and character tees! You’ll thank yourself later, I promise!  If you need to order clothing please give yourself plenty of time for shipping delays or errors in order fulfillment.  You will also want to think about how much your children have grown in the last few months and what you thought might fit them may be too small.
  10. Have Confidence– Have confidence in the clothing you chose for everyone! You know what you’re doing, even if you feel like you don’t! Have fun and enjoy the memories that you’re making! I love the style of photography here because even if they aren’t all looking, there is a story to be told.  You want to look back on your photos and cherish the moments captured!


I am always here to help you with all your questions about planning the most awesome family portrait ever.  I also have many more helpful tips to help you prepare for the session overall and would love to help you.

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