I know how stressful picking out outfits for the whole family can be (hello Bandy Family of 6), so hopefully this will give you some helpful tips and directions. It’s a little lengthy, but try to spare some of your dedicated Facebook/Instagram time to read it through and ask any questions 😉 And remember, I love shopping, and I’m here to help!
Tips to think about before getting started:
To get the flow going with wardrobe, start with one outfit that you really like, usually a dressier version of your usual outfit. From there, build it for everyone else. I suggest starting with mom’s outfit, pick something that mom feels great in.
Layer, layer, layer! Layers add dimension and depth. Use cardigans, belts, statement necklaces, scarves, hats, blazers, etc.
Wear what you feel good in! Moms and dads, this is a tip 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 shinny jeans, do that. If you can barely walk in heels, there’s no harm in doing cute and comfy flat boots.
Purchase clothes to fit — and fit well. I know we all have a hard time buying clothes for our kids 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 look sloppy in photos. Most likely, you’ll be purchasing outfits specifically for pictures, so choose something that fits perfectly. Snug fitting make it look tailored. A too-big jean jacket will not compliment shape, rather it hides.
Matching is out. Coordinating is in. And anything goes! Wearing same colored shirt, pants, shoes, etc looks a bit awkward, and dates the pictures. Coordinating color is what really brings your wardrobe together. I usually choose two main colors, and maybe one accent pop of color. And then mix neutrals in all over 🙂 Also, mixing stripes with plaids and tweeds is okay!
Dress for the weather, and be flexible. You know in Ohio it can be 50 and cloudy one day, and 75 and sunny 2 hours later! Be prepared to be flexible in case you have to switch it up last minute. If your child is underdressed, she’ll be grumpy, and it will reflect in the final images. I speak these words from experience… and I cannot edit the blue out of lips 🙂
Dress for the location. Your session is rural, so a fancy black dress and dress shirt/tie wouldn’t be the most appropriate wardrobe for the session. Think sweaters, cardigans, long pants, maxi dresses/skirts.
Tips for Different Body types (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 fitted cards and scarf to layer.
- Skinny jeans are flattering on most women, even curvy ones! Pair them with cute wedges, and your legs look a mile long. (Try to avoid heels that will sink into the grass 🙂 ) If you’re not comfortable with a tighter fit, I recommend a fit called “skinny boot cut.” You can find them at american eagle and gap, and old navy also has the best high rise for your waistline. A darker wash also is the most slimming.
- 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. Dark, larger prints help camouflage. Very light colors add a little weight and will draw attention to you in images.
- Remember, check yourself out in the mirror. Sit, stand, and make sure you like how you look! If you’re sucking it in the whole time and only like top when standing slightly to the right, try a different outfit 🙂
Child Wardrobe Tips
- Timeless always has a place. A big monster truck or a giant flower decal will make your image look dated. Stick with classic patterns (stripes, polka dots, plaids, tweed, florals).
- Dress the kids in clothes that fit perfectly, not with room to grow.
- Shoes are very important. If you have the cutest little trousers and button down for your son, but slap on his favorite pair of Disney tennis shoes, it makes the whole look lose cohesiveness. If you know your child will never wear a pair of dress shoes again, check out eBay, poshmark, or local second hand stores. You can get a great pair of little leather loafers for $5!
- Remember, coordinating is key, NOT matching.
- Keep hair accessories simple. You want your daughter to be noticed first, not her hair bow 🙂
What to Avoid
- Neon. I know it’s popular, but it does not photograph well.
- Men’s activewear fabric polos, like the under armor or nike ones. Again, they do not photograph well, they tend to look oddly shiny… and let’s be honest, chest hair and lumps/bumps are emphasized in photos with this fabric 🙂
- More than 1 person in a plain solid top. Solid colors are great, but make sure you include textures (think patterns within the fabric – like a cable knit sweater, lace, or ruffles).
Getting Started. Pick out the outfits, and then accessorize.
- Pick out mom’s outfit.
- Pick a Rockstar for the group. The rockstar is the outfit that has a bold pattern and the most colors, everyone else’s outfits will be pulled from the colors on the rockstar. Mom can be the rockstar 🙂
- Now pick 1-2 outfits with more subtle patterns that coordinate with the rockstar. The tops OR bottoms can have the pattern, and then pair it with a neutral. Remember, neutrals can be navy, olive, khaki, denim, grey, white, you don’t have to stick with just denim and white!
- Pick a solid color that has some texture for the next outfit.
- If you have more outfits to pick, alternate between the subtle patterns and solid colors.
- PS. Dad’s outfit is usually last 🙂 From experience, Dads aren’t too picky, so just go with whatever’s missing and jeans.
- Now accessorize with scarves, hats, necklaces, tights… you get the picture.
Here’s my family from last year
Here are some ideas to get you started, and I kept cost in mind. All of the items shown are currently at Target, Old Navy, and the Gap, but I’m sure you already have some articles of clothing in your closets that can be used 🙂 I randomly chose the amount and ages of children, but they’re all easily swapped out.
Example 1: Christmas Red’s
- Mom’s red dress with a pair of wedges/boots/booties
- The Rockstar: a floral with a variety of colors. (The top right plaid boy’s outfit could also be the rockstar)
- And then everyone else, using reds and neutrals that compliment each other
- After I pick everything out, I imagine mom with each child, dad with each child, and then the kids together, and think – Will anyone clash really bad beside each other?
Example 2: Classic Fall
- Choose Mom’s outfit, which happens to be Rockstar. The small floral print ties everyone’s colors together. This top would be great for moms that want to hide a little weight 🙂 The darker color and flowy midsection help camouflage the tummy and arm areas. High rise denim from Old Navy also does wonders for your waistline 😉
- Then just choose some neutrals and colors from mom’s top. There’s a lot of grey going on, but there are many different shades to keep it more appealing.
- Choose different bottoms, try to avoid everyone wearing jeans. Girls are easy to find colored leggings to change it up.
A few more examples that are great for fall and winter to give you some ideas, the rockstar is circled.
Carrie Bandy is a Canton family photographer also specializing in families and baby photography in Canton, Akron and New Philadelphia, Ohio.