What to Wear for Family Portraits

Tips & Tutorials

Your children are growing and changing so quickly! So that means the time for updated portraits is here!  And along with it comes what many find to be the most frustrating part of the process…finding what to wear! Dressing your family for portraits does not have to be a terrible experience. As a family photographer, I have had the opportunity to work with many families over the last 9 years. Today I’m going to give you some steps to help make the process of choosing what to wear for family photos easier.

This isn’t going to be the type post where I link specific outfits. Why? Because each person has their own unique style. We each have stores where we prefer to shop. We know the fit that compliments us the best, and we know what type clothes will fit within our shopping budget. That is totally fine! I think it’s important to have your portraits represent who you are. Today I’m going to be sharing some guidelines to help you as you shop in your preferred stores.

(If you want some outfit ideas with specific links, you can visit my Pinterest Boards)

1. Start with YOURSELF!

I’m speaking directly to you, Mom! Find your perfect outfit first, and then you can coordinate the rest of the family to you. Why? Well first of all, you deserve to feel your absolute best in your portraits. And honestly, no matter what you put your kids in, they are going to look cute. Your husband will almost always end up in either khaki/grey slacks or jeans with a button down shirt. Typically husbands already have something in the closet you can pull to coordinate with just about anything (hello simple light blue button down shirt!).

Notice I said coordinate….you do NOT have to match perfectly. As long as your colors do not clash and compliment one another, you are on the right path.  Take the image at the top of this post as an example.  Notice the same exact colors are not repeated, but all the colors flow well together.  This is a perfect example of outfits that don’t match exactly, but flow well together!

I personally love to see moms choose a flattering dress. A dress brings the perfect feminine touch and l love the movement long, flowy dresses bring to images. If dresses just aren’t for you, look for a pretty blouse and a pair of fitted pants or jeans.

2. Match your decor

My ultimate hope and goal is that you use your images to print and hang in your home. Choosing colors that match your decor provide two-fold benefits. One is that the portraits look even better hanging on your walls when they compliment the colors in your decor. The second is that if you have chosen certain colors to decorate your home, then you are clearly drawn to those colors and prefer them over all others. This means you will automatically like the aesthetics of your photos because of the color schemes represented in them.

Another option here is to choose neutral shades for your outfits. This helps to provide a timeless look that will match any decor, and ensures that you won’t tire of the colors. I personally prefer portrait outfits with soft neutrals.  This means tones of cream, grey, pale blue, blush, tan, and other colors in this palette. These colors hold up over time and bring all the focus onto the most important part of the images…your family!

Now that we’ve covered things that you should do, let’s go over some things that you want to steer clear of:

1. No tight checks or stripes

Buffalo checks and most plaids are great, but very tight checked patterns can produce a strange optical effect in digital images where it looks as if the pattern is moving.

2. No neon colors

No explanation needed here…I think this should just be a life rule!

3. No writing or large logos

My son loves wearing athletic clothing, which usually includes a large logo across the front of his shirts…but he isn’t allowed to wear that for a portrait!

4. Avoid extremely trendy items

While we all love to look back and laugh at old trends, it’s best to always strive for a classic look that will be timeless. (Although I do quite enjoy admiring my perm and puffy sleeves from my childhood photos!)

what to wear for family photos

If you need some outfit inspiration, look through my website and portfolio of work.  All my families show up dressed beautifully! I am always happy to review outfit choices and advise my clients on wardrobe options.

Molly is a family photographer serving Greenville SC.  You can get to know Molly here.


  1. […] That wraps up mine (and my daughters) favorite baby boutiques in Greenville, SC. We still have a few more fun shopping Friday’s ahead of us, so I’ll be sure to share any new finds or updates we discover! If you need specific tips on what to where for a newborn sessions, check out this blog post. For tips on what to where for your family photo session, this is the post for you! […]

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Meet Molly

Molly specializes in family & newborn photography in  Greenville, SC. A former teacher and mother of three, she is known for capturing the joy & love of families.  Photo sessions with Molly turn family memories into artwork for your home and for generations to come.