What (not) to wear: wardrobe tips to make your fam look super slick

If you’ve ever done family photos before, you know that getting everyone in nice clothes so your photos look dreamy is not always an easy task. Although my sessions are documentary-style and are meant to capture you as you really are, there are some suggestions I tell my clients when it comes to wardrobe. Honestly, I’m not super picky about what my clients wear as I want them to express their personalities. These are the main tips:

Keep it simple, classic, and timeless. Coordinating always trumps matching outright.
Try choosing a color palette of 4-5 colors and let everyone choose their own outfits based on those.
Or pick out several options for everyone and see which outfits they gravitate toward.
Take into account the location we’ll be shooting in. Try not to turn into a chameleon—dark browns and greens on a forest trail will blend right in. Ditto for white shirts in a kitchen with white cabinets and backsplash.

Portland family photographer
Southern California newborn photographer
Portland+family+photographer

WHAT NOT TO WEAR

Sometimes helping figure out what to wear is to know what NOT to wear (bonus points if you remember that show). The following examples are from past shoots, and I am always forever grateful when clients eliminate these items from consideration.

Super bright colors, like neon pink and fire-hydrant red
Shirts with extremely busy or contrasty patterns, or big logos/branding (that Ecko logo might look sick now, bro, but in 20 years not so much)
Athletic wear (watch out for the shoes!)
Baggy T-shirts. I know that kids grow like weeds and they spring out of a pair of pants in 20 minutes, so I totally get why buying shirts a couple sizes too big is economical. But for our shoot, fitted clothes are best.
On the opposite of that, clothing that is too formal might oppress your personalities and make everyone grumpy.
Solid white or extremely light colors (there are exceptions to this, especially for indoor shoots)
Baseball caps. I beg you, unless it’s an essential icon of your personality, leave the cap alone. Don’t even wear it before the shoot (hat hair!)

But whatever you choose, as long as it suits your personality and allows you to be yourself, it’s perfect. These photos are really not about the clothes, but the memories.

WARDROBE INSPIRATION

If you’re not quite sure about what to wear, or just need an excuse to shop, here are some of my go-to stores from client recommendations and personal favorites.

  • MOCHI KIDS: This online shop is local to my original home base, Salt Lake City. Mochi sports simple, unisex designs inspired by things kids love. Shop owner Amanda and I have known each other since the days of working retail when I was in college. Her kawaii designs are modern, bold, and a ton of fun.

  • LL BEAN: Many of my past family clients have said they love LL Bean because their styles transcend adults and kids, and the stuff lasts FOR EVER.

  • HANNA ANDERSSON: Scandinavian-inspired minimalism at its finest, H.A. uses super soft organic materials. There are a lot of options here, from playful color to zen neutrals. You can even snag a set of matching PJs for the whole fam.

  • E SHAKTI: This is specifically for the moms out there. A client turned me on to Eshakti a few years ago, and I have to say I’m head over heels. Their custom-tailored designs are simple and colorful with modern flair.

  • HUM STITCHERY: Hum is the ultimate place for that farm-to-table look. Slightly whimsical with a side of English country garden, they have looks for both moms and kiddos.

  • OLD NAVY: Ah, classic Old Navy. I like to put this on the wardrobe list because they have some great decently priced button-downs for men and kids.

  • ZARA: Just a heads up: It’s super easy to get lost in a wormhole of crazy patterns here, so be careful. The kids section is fab, and I love shopping for my husband and myself here but remember, simple is best.

Portland+Family+Photographer
Portland family photographer

KEEPING IT LOCAL

I’m based in Portland, and anyone who has been here probably knows that shopping local, particularly at thrift stores, is practically the city’s designated sport. Below are some lovely local boutiques for Portlanders. And since buying brand-new clothes is hard on the wallet and environment, plus the fact that kids grow like weeds and will be out of that new set of pants in about 20 minutes, I’ve also included a few of my fav Portland higher-end and kid-focused second-hand stores.

With wardrobe being the No. 1 thing I get asked about, I hope this helps give you ideas and inspiration for your next session!