FAMILY PHOTOGRAPHY SESSIONS | WHAT TO WEAR GUIDE
Clothing and Session Tips for Your Family Session
Thank you so much for booking with Stephanie Bennett Photography. I’m thrilled to photograph your family this year!
My What to Wear guide will be your best friend when planning out the look and style for your family.
In it you’ll find tips and tricks when choosing outfits, what not to wear, how to dress for your body type, and a list of some great online stores for wardrobe ideas.
Also look for a What To Expect Guide in your portal that will give you an idea of what will happen at your session.
WHAT NOT TO WEAR
Lets start off with what colors and things to avoid at your session.
Avoid Fluorescent Colors
Fluorescent colors tend to color cast on faces, necks and hair (meaning they can reflect their colors onto faces). They’re harsh, especially in sunlight. If you like brighter colors, I recommend primary colors. Yellow (mustard), red (maroon, brick), and blues (navy, royal) photograph beautifully.
When Outside, Limit Greens
Stay away from green clothing when having photos taken in grassy/wooded areas. It’s just too much. Green as an accent color is great, though! You want to stand out among all the greenery you’re surrounded by, not blend in with it.
Camouflage is also on my list of things to avoid. We want to see your family, not have them blend into the background.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
Almost every mom at a family session has mentioned how hard it was to find outfits, the cost of the outfits, or just being stressed over picking out fits out. I don’t want outfit planning to add to your already full plate and give you any additional things to worry about. I’m sure you have enough going on without thinking of outfits.
Don’t go overboard buying outfits. Most parents can dress their family without buying everyone new outfits. Look through what clothing you have, what will work, and then purchase just a few items to complete the look.
WHAT TO WEAR
To get the flow going with wardrobe, start with one outfit that you really like. From there, build from it for everyone else. I recommend that person be mom. For some reason kids and partners are easier to dress. Focus on yourself first and everyone else will easily fall into place.
Wear what you feel good in!
Moms and dads, this tip is for you specifically. If you aren’t comfortable in what you’ve chosen for pictures, it will show.
If you can’t find a dress you feel good in, but you rock a good pair of skinny jeans, do that.
If you can barely walk in heels, there’s no harm in doing cute and comfy flat boots or pretty sandals.
Matching is out. Coordinating is in.
And anything goes! We know your family is together. Wearing the same colored shirt, pants, shoes, etc. looks a bit awkward.
Coordinating color is what really brings wardrobe together. I usually choose two main colors of wardrobe, and maybe one accent pop of color.
Also, mixing stripes with plaids and tweeds is okay! Expression is important. We want to see your personality through your wardrobe.
Layer, layer layer!
Layers add dimension and depth. In the summer you can layer your dress with a cute belt and pendant necklace. In the winter cardigans, belts, statement necklaces, scarves, hats, blazers, etc.
Layers add depth, dimension, and interest to your session.
Purchase clothes to fit–and fit well.
I know we all have a hard time buying clothes for our kiddos that don’t leave a lot of room for growth, seeing as they do grow so fast. However, a too large polo shirt, saggy ill-fitting jeans or a jacket that’s falling off the shoulders looks sloppy in photos.
Most likely, you’ll be purchasing outfits specifically for pictures, so choose something that fits perfectly, or even just a little bit snug. Make it look tailored. Go a size smaller in jackets, cardigans or blazers. A too-big jean jacket will not compliment shape, rather it hides hips, waist and those sexy curves. If you typically wear a size medium jacket, try on the small. Even if it’s just a little snug in the shoulders, it should lay nicely around your hips and waist, creating a more tailored look.
Avoid clothing that bunches up on small children. Puffy vests, overalls, and shirts with a stuff collar tend to push upward when very little ones sit, and the clothing covers their face. Polo and henley style shirts are better for very young boys. Overalls also tend to push up into little ones’ faces.
Dress for the weather, and be flexible.
In Minnesota, it can be 50 and cloudy, then 75 and sunny just hours later. Be prepared to be flexible with wardrobe in case you have to switch it up last minute.
If you have plans for a cute sundress for your daughter, and the weather ends up being 20 degrees colder than you were anticipating, switch it up a bit by adding layers. Tights, boots, scarf, slouchy hat, cardigan.
Dress appropriately for the weather that day, even if it doesn’t go with your original plan. If your child is sweating profusely in a sweater during his shoot, he won’t be happy. And on the same token, if your child is wearing a tank dress and the weather dips too much in the evening, she’ll be grumpy, and it’ll reflect in the final images.
Dress for the location
Just as dressing for weather is important, dressing for the location is just as important. A fancy black dress and a dress shirt and tie wouldn’t be the most appropriate wardrobe for a forest or grassy setting. More formal wear would be more appropriate for an urban or “big city” feel.
Outdoor pictures in wooded areas should be more casual looking.
Tips for Women
Maxi dresses are flattering on every body type. Keep that in mind while shopping! Maxi dresses are usually a slam dunk for shoots, and they’re so versatile. Add a belt or a statement necklace with strappy sandals for the summer, or a belted fitted cardigan and a scarf in the fall.
Skinny jeans are flattering on most women, even the curvy ones! Pair them with cute heels or wedges, and your legs look a mile long.
Take a friend shopping with you. They will see you better than you see yourself when trying on clothes. If he/she tells you it looks great, believe them! After all, we’re our own worst critics.
Flaunt your best asset. If you’re self-conscious about your arms, wear a sleeve. If your stomach is your problem area, a flowy top is great to hide it. If you love your legs, wear a short skirt or dress! Don’t be scared to show off your favorite assets.
Tips For Men
A dark wash pair of jeans is always a safe bet. They look good with a casual top, like a Henley or sweater. They also look good dressed up a little with a dress shirt and dress shoes.
Avoid light washed jeans. They always seem to photograph lighter than they are in person.
Khakis are a great option too. Similar to dark wash jeans, they work well with casual or more dressy styled outfits.
Shoes – make sure they are included in the outfit planning. Skip the tennis shoes, and opt for boots, dress shoes, or something more simple.
Hats – I know you love them, but lets skip them for the session. They cover your face, and leave weird parks in your hair. If you really want to include a special hat in the session, we can always do that. I just recommend it is in the last half of the session and that you do no wear the hat to the session.
Child Wardrobe Tips
Timeless always has a place. I love when my clients show up to a shoot with the most simple and timeless of outfits. A plain white lace dress with a simple bow. A plain diaper cover. Naked baby! These outfits will always stand the test of time, and will never go out of style.
Dress your kiddos in clothes that fit perfectly, not with room to grow. Even if you child may only wear the outfit for a few months, it’ll look much better than putting them in something that they still need to grow into. Go a size smaller in jackets, cardigans or blazers. A too-big jean jacket, blazer, sweat shirt, sweater or hoodie will not compliment shape. It looks sloppy.
Shoes are a very important part of wardrobe. If you have the cutest little trousers and button down for your son to wear for pictures, but slap his favorite pair of Disney tennis shoes on him, it makes the whole look lose cohesiveness. Stay away from character shoes, flip flops, crocs. My recommendation for shoes are boots, leather sandals, Converse All-Stars, Toms, and Mary Janes. Barefoot is an adorable option, especially with babies. I’d much rather see bare feet than the bottom of their shoes.
Remember, coordinating your children’s outfits is key. Not matching.
Layers are just as important for child wardrobe as it is for yours. Hats, glasses, vests, bow ties, cardigans, tights or leggings under a skirt. I do recommend making the outer layer (blazer, cardigan, jacket) fit snugly. I usually purchase the outer layers one size smaller than normal, because they tend to run on the bigger side.
Hair piece tips. For babies, toddlers and older girls, I always recommend keeping hair accessories simple. When they are too big (think “gerber daisy” big), it distracts from their faces.
Even if your baby girl doesn’t have a ton of hair, don’t feel the need to hide that adorable head behind a huge head piece that makes her angry because she’s pulling it off every few seconds. Simple and dainty is best with hair accessories.
The most important part of putting together your child’s wardrobe is allowing their personality to come through in what they’re wearing.
If your daughter has a favorite pair of boots, let her wear them (at least in a few pictures). If your son prefers to run around naked to being fully clothed, we’ll let him strip down at the end of the session. If your child loves to wear hats and sunglasses, bring them! Whatever makes your child their own adorable, individual self, let’s focus on those things.
Yes, we all want our children to look adorable and fully polished for photos. I’m not recommending you don’t brush your daughter’s hair or forget wiping off the smudged PB&J off your toddler’s face, but allow them to have a little bit of input when planning their wardrobe as well.
And never say “no” to bringing their favorite stuffed animal, doll, or blanket along. I want to capture those, too. Not in all of the pictures, but I love including their favorites in their portraits too. It makes them happy, plus it is a great memory of them at that age.
I always recommend families look at the décor in their homes for inspiration on what colors to wear. We decorate our home in colors we love and that make us feel good. It is also great to consider when thinking about the long term plan for your images and displaying them in your home. For example, my family wears the same colors every time we have pictures taken (gray, blues, white, and a touch of pink). That way the printed pictures always look great in our home and match the décor.
Think about the season.
Spring: Pastels, pink – blue – cream – white – florals – lace – chambray
Fall: Rich Jewel Tones – bold colors – mustard – army green – jean – vests – knits
FAVORITE PLACES TO SHOP
1. Gap.com. They provide a great option for “basics.” Just about anything you’d need, you’ll find on their website. And Gap frequently offers sales and discounts if you sign up for their email list, plus their sale rack prices are amazing! Their employees are usually great with helping pick coordinating outfits for the whole family too $$-$$$
2. Freepeople.com. Think easy, breezy, comfy, boho chick. $$$-$$$$
3. Anthropologie.com. It’s a little bit more on the expensive side, but the clothes are quality, unique and last forever. $$$$
4. Jcrew.com. Their Crew Cuts kids line is probably one of my top 5 sites for kids clothes. Also, their shoe selection for kids alone makes me giddy. $$$$
5. HM.com. I consider H&M the holy grail for all things boy and men. Their price point is ridiculously low, and the clothes are my favorite. Keep in mind that H&M sizes are a little different, and they run big. $-$$
6. Zara.com. I get lost on this site, seriously. So many adorable pieces, shoes, accessories, etc. For men, women and children. $$-$$$$
7. Modcloth.com. A fun, flirty and pretty affordable site for women’s timeless dresses, fun tops and the best shoes and accessories! $$-$$$
8. Fleuranddot.com. The most adorable girls clothing you’ll ever find if you’re vintage-inspired in your look. Hands down. $$$$
11. Catch-alls. Antique stores. Garage Sales. Flea Market. Target. Ebay. Zulily. Hand-me-downs. Possibly even your photographer’s closet! Always keep your eyes peeled! You’ll be pleasantly surprised by what you find.
Alloy. www.alloyapparel.com $-$$
American Apparel. www.americanapparel.com $$$
Nordstrom Rack. shop.nordstrom.com/c/nordstrom-rack $$$
Dottie Couture Boutique. www.dottiecouture.com $$-$$$
Urban Outfitters. www.urbanoutfitters.com $$$
The Oxford Trunk. www.theoxfordtrunk.com $$-$$$
Nordstrom. www.nordstrom.com $$$$
Urban Outfitters www.urbanoutfitters.com $$$-$$$$
Zulily. www.zulily.com $-$$$
Le Coxa Boutique. www.lecoxajboutique.com $$-$$$
Dutchess and Lion. www.etsy.com/shop/duchessandlion $$-$$$
The Children’s Place. www.childrensplace.com $-$$
Loola. www.loola.bigcartel.com $$