Far and away the most frequent question I get from moms after booking a session is:
What should we wear?
Gone are the days of matchy-matchy or everyone coming to a family session all dressed in Canadian Tuxedos, but you know what? Not wearing the exact same outfit makes choosing outfits that much more challenging. If you dress your entire family in black shirts and jeans you can cross that item off your list almost immediately. Coming in perfectly coordinated outfits is much, much more challenging.
That being said, there is a formula for coordinating!
The bad news is that it takes more effort than matching. The good news is that I’m going to give you my formula here. The extra good news is that you’re going to look SO STINKIN’ GOOD in your family photos.
Before I give you the formula for outfits, let’s set some parameters. Not all outfits are created equally and these parameters are meant to help you feel and look good.
If you listen to anything I say here, let it be this: Moms, pick your outfit first. Let it be something that you feel fabulous in.
You are beautiful and you should FEEL that way at your session; this is why your outfit is the most important. Do not be afraid to get totally gussied up, even if the session is in your own home. I’m a big believer in the mom wearing a long, flowy dress or skirt because there’s something so beautiful and romantic about that. (and I find it very difficult to not feel great in a flowy outfit). As a bonus, long dresses/skirts are easy to sit in or squat in without tugging and worrying about modesty.
Beware of plunging neck lines. I do a fair amount of shooting overhead and if you’re worried about a straight shot down, either don’t wear it or put a camisole underneath. There’s nothing sadder than not being able to use a fabulous photo because you’re showing awkward amounts of skin.
Also be careful about sleeves. For example, large bell sleeves add additional fabric to the arms, and while they can look fantastic in person, when you’re on camera they can have a tendency to widen people’s arms and bodies. Stick to sleeves that are delicate and don’t have any more fabric than necessary.
Avoid stark whites and blacks because they can photograph like giant blobs on camera. Opt instead for creamy ivories, delicate pinks, deep charcoals, and navys. It will give something for the film to grab onto.
Be aware of the location. When shooting in nature, wearing green can be tricky, but light pinks or blues will definitely go with the surroundings. The trend right now is definitely on the romantic side (airy colors, and light earthy tones including creams and khakis). These muted colors also tend to complement a nature setting, as opposed to competing with it.
My last parameter is to play with textures and layers! From chunky knits to fuzzy vests to eyelet shirts or layering on a cardigan or taking that plaid shirt and pairing a sweater over it…these are going to give plain colors added depth and dimension and up your crew’s outfit game.
You’re finally ready for it….
How to dress your family to coordinate without matching:
Depending on your family size, pick 3-4 colors for your family to wear. Not everyone has to wear all the colors, but each person should be wearing a color that at least one other person is wearing. (For example, if someone is wearing a pink skirt, someone else might have pink detailing in a dress, or a pink shirt.)
Obviously, rules are made to be broken. But if you’re looking for a jumping off point, this formula will get you headed in the right direction!
If you want more inspiration, click for a Pinterest board featuring families on their outfit A-game.
Don’t forget: as your photographer I’m here to help you! You’re always free to text me clothing options and I would love to help you make decisions!