If you’re like me and LOVE to update your family photos every year (or multiple times per year), then maybe you feel overwhelmed when it comes to planning your family’s outfits.
Gone are the days of having everyone in matching jeans and white, button-down shirts. It’s all about coordinating without looking like you’re trying too hard. But let’s be real…sometimes it is hard!
I want to share with you my best tips and resources for planning your outfits to take away your stress and anxiety–it can happen, I promise!
When you know the type of location your photos will take place (desert, beach, field, forest, city, etc.), then you can imagine the colors that are most likely to be surrounding your and family. If you’ll be in a lush, green field, you’ll want to avoid having everyone in shades of green. If you’ll be in a bright, golden desert you’ll want to avoid super-dark colors like black and navy. Too much of the same color, or too much contrast in colors, won’t bode well.
Dressy, formal, casual, bohemian, comfortable…the list goes on. When you envision your family photos, how do you want everyone to look? From three-piece suits and evening gowns to jeans with flannels, the possibilities are endless.
Mom is usually the one putting all the outfits together and planning every last detail, and she’s also typically the hardest to shop for. So, Mama, I want you to put yourself first and decide what you want to wear before you finalize anyone else’s outfit. You deserve to look and feel smashing (say that with an English accent) in your photos. If you don’t feel 100% in love and confident in your outfit choice, keep looking. I always suggest that my clients wear long, flowy dresses or skirts, as they tend to be the most flattering.
We all have areas of our bodies that we’re self-conscience about. Keep those areas in mind when putting your outfit together. Maybe you’d rather conceal your arms, or your midsection, or another body area. I’ll say it again…You deserve to look and feel smashing!
Others may suggest that you choose your family’s color palette before Mom chooses what she’s going to wear, but I want Mom to pick her dress first then build everything off of that. Maybe you find a dress you love that doesn’t go with your original color palette…so scrap that one and make a new one!
When you’re building your color palette, you may already have an idea in your head and just need to put it all together. Or you may have no idea where to start! Once Mom picks her dress, think about complementary colors. I like to choose 3-4 base colors that go well together–like sage green, ivory, soft pink, and khaki, for example. Neutrals like black, navy, gray, and white can always be incorporated into your color palette as accent colors.
I always suggest avoiding super bright colors like red, coral, orange, hot pink, etc. Soft, muted colors will be more flattering and will prevent color casting on the skin (i.e., your skin looking slightly red because of your bright red shirt).
Girls are typically harder to dress than boys because there are more options…dress, skirt with a top, jumpsuit, etc. Choose the little ladies’ outfits before you pick the clothing for the guys.
The little guys and Dad are pretty easy, so save them for last. Pants are always best for dads and boys ages 10 and older, but the little guys can get away with shorts, overalls, and even jumpsuits for the itty bitty boys under age 4.
Dads, remember that fitted clothes are the style these days, so I recommend staying away from baggy pants, cargo pants/shorts, flip flops, sandals, anything with a logo or brand, baseball hats, etc. If casual is more your style, slim dark jeans, a light-colored Henley, and clean casual shoes always look great!
Bonus Tip #1 – Prints, Patterns, Layers, and Textures
As a rule of thumb, only one person should be wearing a print or pattern. Plaid, floral, stripes, polka dots…you get the picture. Choose one and just keep it at that.
Avoid fabric with small stripes, as they tend to cause chromatic aberration, which is a fancy way of saying “focus issues.”
Layers always look great! Imagine an adorable jean jacket over Mom’s flowy dress, or corduroy skirt overalls paired with a Peter Pan collared shirt for a little girl. Maybe Dad is wearing a sport coat and his son has suspenders with a bow-tie. Layers add so much dimension and visual beauty to an outfit and they’re so easy!
Lastly, I suggest different fabrics and textures. Denim, silk, wool, corduroy, cotton, chiffon…you get the idea!
Bonus Tip #2 – Use The Smart Closet App
I love this app so I can see what the combination of outfits looks like before I buy anything. I can add screenshots of different items to my “closet,” then create a collage. I use this tool every time I’m planning for updated photos. It’s so much easier (and FREE!) than buying a ton of different options and laying them on the floor or the bed to see how they look together.
See the example collage below, next to our 2018 family photo by our friends Erica & Jon. You’ll also notice that only one of us is wearing a print (our daughter is in a floral maxi dress), both guys have layers (Nate has a suit jacket and our son is wearing suspenders–so cute!), and we have a mix of different fabrics and textures and all of the colors complement the golden desert landscape surrounding us.
For Mom: ASOS, Lulu’s, Vici Dolls, Doen, Free People, and H&M.
For Girls: Bailey’s Blossoms, GAP, Old Navy, Zara, H&M, and Joyfolie.
For Dad: Express, Nordstrom, Old Navy, J. Crew, and H&M.
For Boys: Zara, GAP, Old Navy, H&M, and Target.
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