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What to Wear for Families: 4 Steps to Coordinating Outfits

When I decided to start my photography business, I had no idea that being a personal wardrobe consultant would be part of the job.  I mean, I wear jeans, black shirts and flip flops year round.  I choose clothes that are comfortable and easy.  Black is easy.  So who was I to give suggestions on what to wear for a photo session! 

Since I do have 4 children, dressing children to coordinate wasn’t new to me.  But telling others what to wear and why was new. 

I learned quickly that clients needing help on what to wear would become part of every session, whether you were shooting children, families or seniors.  This is such an important part of working with your clients.  Educating them on what looks good and what doesn’t really helps everything come together.  The season, location and clothing all play a role in your finished photos. 

You want to avoid everyone doing  “matchy matchy” clothes.  That means no white shirts and jeans, no tan pants and blue shirts and nobody wearing the same color on top.  Instead, you want them to coordinate.  Coordinating means you’re going to have 2-4 colors that go well together.  There are basic color combinations that work for each season. 

To know which colors are being worn in each season, I suggest looking up Pantone Colors, with the year and season.  Each year they predict the colors that are trending. To get a better idea of groups of colors that coordinate, Pinterest will be your best friend for finding that information.


  • I suggest clients first look through their wardrobe.  Find one article of clothing that is their favorite.  This can be a solid color or a pattern.  Plaid and argyle are great patterns to use in photos because they incorporate at least 3 colors.  Those 3 colors would then be what you use to build your outfits around.  A great choice for the first article of clothing would be something like these:

  • Now that you’ve chosen your first article of clothing, you can build all of the other outfits around it, using colors that will coordinate.  Take that one piece of clothing that’s your inspiration piece and start going through clothes that you already own.  Chances are, you have other clothes that will coordinate.  After you’ve pulled your clothes together, start looking at the gaps that need to be filled in.  I like to lay all pieces on my bed and look at everything together.  That way, I get a clear idea of what I still need.  Remember, we want 2-4 colors. When I realize what I still need, I usually make a shopping trip to Old Navy.  Old Navy has clothing for mom, dad and children, so I know I will be able to fill in my gaps there with colors that coordinate.
  • Next, it’s time for accessories.  I love this part!  I send clients to one store for accessories and that is Charming Charlie’s.  They have jewelry in every color, different styles and are priced reasonably.  Let’s say the clothes above were what I needed to shop for.  Items like those below are great to have when you are pulling these together.  Jewelry for mom and a flower crown for daughter that coordinate with the clothes.  Notice mom has a mint skirt but the jewelry I chose has more of a peach/pink look.  That’s because I wanted it to coordinate with daughter’s dress.

  • Now we’re going to add shoes.  Shoes do matter.  You don’t want to look all gorgeous in your clothes but then wear your 10 year old sandals that clearly show their age.  But you also don’t want to spend a lot of money on shoes unless you need to.  I get it.  I have a family of 6 so I know I can’t go buy everything new for a photo session.  So, again, look through what you have.  If shoes need to be cleaned up or scuff marks taken out, do that to bring new life into them.  It’s important to wear shoes that are right for the outfit.

Your clothing, accessories and jewelry have all been picked out for your client.  Yay!!  Now what?  Stay tuned for our next blog post that takes this all one step further!

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