It’s the age-old question: what in the world am I going to wear??!! Everyday we walk into our closets and make this decision. The majority of the clothes that I wear on a daily basis are not “portrait pretty.” If you are in complete agreement with that statement, well then, chances are that you might also be pondering what clothing choices you should make for your upcoming portrait session.
If you are taking the time out of your busy schedule and wisely investing your money on hiring a lovely professional to capture memories and create timeless heirloom images for you and your family – shouldn’t you also be putting a lot of consideration into your clothing too?
Here are some quick guidelines that I offer as a jumping off point in your search for the perfect outfit(s).
• Less is more. This statement is broad, but covers many areas when preparing to dress you and your family for your portrait session. Less accessories are always better. The current trend is large statement jewelry. While I’m a personal fan of those beautiful statement necklaces, you may want to consider ditching them for your portraits. Think about how you will look in 20 years. Do you want to look dated or timeless? If you would rather document the time and wear your favorite pieces then by all means! Go for it! If you would rather try to attain the look of a style that would carry across decades and not be too discernible as to which it was from… consider choosing a simple necklace, bracelet or scarf.
Less is more also applies to colors and patterns. Now. I will be the FIRST to admit that I LOVE color and pattern. However, when photographing a family, it can be quite tricky and can quickly become overwhelming. Here are some things to think about: If dad is wearing a plaid shirt, and jr. is also that is automatically a lot of pattern. Sure it’s just plaid, but even if it is identical fabric two bodies wearing the same plaid will pull your eyes around in your portraits. Throw in a floral dress for little miss in complimentary colors and a floral blouse for you and it can look quite overwhelming to the eye. Sure all the colors match and everyone coordinates nicely, but too much pattern gets to be distracting very quickly and prevents the viewers from looking at your beautiful eyes and faces and rather to your clothing. Not ideal. So. Less is more. Maybe have dad wear a plaid button down, jr wearing a solid polo, little miss can wear her darling floral dress – because, I’m a mom of a little girl too and I know that your entire wardrobe plan probably derived from that dress of hers that you are in love with. 😉 – and then you can wear a solid colored blouse with complimentary colored accessories.
• Accessories can make the look. If the common denominator that ties your family together is color, then use that to your advantage – but heed rule one! less is still more! Let’s say little miss has a plum dress with yellow flowers on it. Consider wearing yellow ballet flats to pull that yellow. Perhaps a scarf that has yellow in it as well, or just a nice gold necklace. A pop of color where you least expect it is always intriguing to the viewer. One of the reasons I always love for mom to wear brightly colored shoes. It just works well and is a great way to tie everyone together. Don’t have a pair of shoes that will work for this scenario? What about a nice scarf or cardigan? Perhaps your shirt is the pop of color and you are wearing a neutral cardigan on top.
• Dark denim always wins. Gone are the days of everyone wearing khaki colored pants and matching tops. Yuck! Khaki is flattering to no one and it doesn’t work well in your portraits either. Khaki can wash you out and make you look more pale than you are not to mention that it’s a nightmare on little kids who inevitably will get dirty at some point in your session. Dark denim is the new khaki in the portrait world. Lucky for you, it’s also somewhat slimming!
• Don’t do “matchy matchy.” Just don’t. You will regret it and not be as pleased with your images. You are all individuals and therefore you should be dressed differently!
Here are some photos of some example outfits which might give you some inspiration when planning your wardrobe: