Over the years I’ve had people ask what to wear for family photos, and I never really answered them because I didn’t know what to say. Usually it’s just been Benson and me and we didn’t put much thought into what we wore together. Then, Addie was born and, regrettably, we still didn’t ever take professional family pics. Finally I looked at her one day when she was over a YEAR old soaking in how cute she was, thinking about how she’ll never be this age again, and getting frustrated that I couldn’t ever capture great pictures of her expressions because a) I’m not a good photographer, and b) she moved too much and too quickly. Haha, gosh, those little people!
So, we finally did it! Professional pics! The shoot happened to be in October so we used them for our Christmas cards too.
Of course came the challenge of what to wear. Most of you have probably already planned your outfits for family photos, but I included my thought process anyway for future reference!
NOTE from 2019: I wrote this post a while ago and have added a few of our family pics since then to the bottom of this post to give you more family photo outfit ideas. I still think through these exact things today, even 4 years later, but, I’ve also added a few more tips!
a. I scoured Pinterest for family photos and asked myself, “What do I like about what they’re wearing? What do I dislike?” Not groundbreaking, but helpful nonetheless.
- When they coordinated but didn’t match
- When the overall vibe was lighter rather than darker and dramatic
- Combinations of soft neutrals like, grey, white, and navy (rather than black) and muted tones rather than saturated ones (like mustard yellow rather than hot pink or bright red)
- When 3 colors were used, with maybe just one accent color.
- White! I saw family pics with grey or black as neutrals, but I realized my very favorites were when white was one of the colors. I also felt like for our family with medium complexions and dark hair, incorporating white would help lighten the vibe of the pictures.
- A little bit of pattern, but not so many patterns that they clash.
- When everyone was wearing different colored bottoms. It made the photos more interesting.
- When everyone was wearing blue jeans. I preferred being coordinated rather than matchy-matchy, so everyone wearing the same bottoms felt too uniform to me.
Questions to ask yourself:
- Do you like being more uniform, coordinated but not matchy-matchy, or have no preference at all?
- Do you prefer lighter and brighter pics, saturated pics, or darker vibes?
- Do you like more neutrals, muted colors, or saturated colors? Maybe neutrals with a pop of a saturated color? Neutrals with a pop of a muted color? etc.
- Do you like all solids, all patterns, or want some patterns mixed together?
I wanted to capture Addie and our family in our most natural mode. I didn’t want us glammed up, rather how our family would be on a normal day. I mostly wanted to remember our current relationship with Addie, and that included things like us lying on the grass, her climbing on us, and us swinging her around. We knew we would be at a park on grass and dirt, and that meant we wore more casual clothing instead of getting dressed up.Your goals might be the opposite. You might want to have everyone dressed up! Perhaps in a future family shoot we’ll dress up a little more, because those kinds of pics are fun to have too. Or maybe you just want a nice family picture where everyone is together and you look cohesive, fancy or casual aside. Just focus on coordinating colors and don’t worry about whether someone is in a dress or jeans.
Questions to ask yourself:
- What do you want to capture with these pictures? (playfulness, togetherness in a house, glamorous, festive, etc.)
- What activities do you want captured? (sitting in a house–like, just one big family shot; playing in a field; walking around downtown, etc.)
- What kind of attire would function best in those situations? (jeans for playing; n/a for sitting in a house, etc.)
We got some great pics of Addie during that time, and I’m grateful!
Since then, we’ve had at least 4 more rounds of family photos, and I have a few more tips to share. Here are some additional strategies for you to plan what to wear for family photos!
I get this question often, and I have found that mixing up bottoms works WONDERS. I’ve preached this truth for your own wardrobes (HERE), and the same applies to mixing up your family’s pictures. If everyone is wearing blue jeans, then the only part of your outfits that are differentiated are your tops. If the colors on the bottom are mixed up, the photos have a lot more variety.
When you look through the last 4 years of our family photos below, in addition to noticing we are al wearing different colored bottoms, you’ll also notice there’s always at least one print. I always talk about how prints provide visual interest in your own outfits, and this holds true for a family photo, too.
- Start with the pickiest person.
- Figure out which of your family members is willing to wear a print, then see if you can find clothes for other members of your family in some of the colors from the print.
- Mix up those colored bottoms as much as you can!
More Family Photos!
We totally cheated and just used a nice pic someone took of us at a wedding. 😜
I’m pregnant with Ella! And the answer is yes–I do just make Benson wear those pants each year. He’s a minimalist so he has like 3-4 pairs of pants which limits our options, haha! I’m also of the mindset, “If it ain’t broke…”
Benson and I are both wearing the same pairs of pants from 2015. But, yellow and grey and olive are in the mix now. Plus a new little person! 🤗🥰
Not too different from the previous year. Like I said…if it ain’t broke… 😛
Another new little addition to the family! My goal was to let Benson wear different pants this year. 😆 Mission accomplished!
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