Category: Style Guide for Family Pictures

Basics of Coordinating Outfits for a Family Photo Shoot

This is part of the style series for “What to Wear For Your Family Photo Shoot.”  Get the basics so you’ll know where to start.

*Remember, you’re creating memories to look back on for years to come. 


  • Wear characters on your clothing (Batman, Mickey Mouse, Nike).
  • Match with the same tops, same bottoms, or same colors.  This will date you back 20 years!
  • Include too many patterns (checkers with florals with plaid).
  • Add too many colors (especially if they don’t work together).
  • Wear inappropriately for the season (tank tops for winter).
  • Overdress like you’re going to a wedding.


  • Rule of thumb is to dress your Sunday best (Denim is allowed though).
  • Add your own flare.
  • Include some patterns in a couple outfits.
  • Choose a dark color as your base.
  • Denim/khaki/corduroys are great for bases.
  • Include about 3-5 colors.
  • Use different textures and fabrics for interest.
  • Make sure your colors are complimentary (artistically and/or metaphorically!) For example- Pink and orange may not be the best combinations for your bright colors.
  • Keep in mind the colors of your home if you want to use photos for your walls.
  • Be mindful of details like jewelry and shoes. (Sneakers may not work for every outfit.)

(A reminder that I am by no means a fashion blogger or stylist!  These are my observations from 3 years of family photography.)

Are you at a loss on how to stylistically coordinate the whole family?? Need some examples or inspiration on what to wear?  No worries, the first question I get asked is what they should wear.  So I created a mood board (a stylistic collage) of possible clothing combinations for a family, using a classic color like navy as their main color.  Check that post out here.

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What to Wear for Family Photos: Classic Navy Edition

What to wear is a question that comes up often with my cilents.  I don’t claim to be a fashionista (unlike my oldest daughter), but after 3 years of seeing what colors work and how they work, I can give you a few pointers that can guide you to create your own wardrobe.

Gone are the days of matching white tops and blue denim.  When you are too matchy-matchy, your photos will look like you’re still living in that era!  For more tips on the basic guidelines for coordinating a family photo shoot wardrobe, go here.

COLOR: Navy (blue)


If you’re looking for classic and timelessness, navy (and blue) is the way to go! What comes to mind is men in their navy uniforms. (Yes, I totally enjoyed googling ‘men in uniform’ for this research LOL.) According to Art Therapy Blog, blue evokes

  • wisdom
  • loyalty
  • truth

It’s safe to say that’s why you probably already have a lot of these pieces in your closet- jeans, a navy sweater, navy shirt, navy shoes.  It’s a safe color that’s easy to match with, and is treated kind of like black, a base color.


You never want to match completely for a family photo shoot.  You always want to have at least 4 colors that you’re playing with.  You can use different shades of navy/blue to vary and differentiate each person.  Lighter base colors like cream, ivory, white, and greys will allow for greater contrast with navy/blue.  Khakis, jeans, black dress pants, leather or camel-colored boots are common pairings for navy.


Adding textures and patterns gives the entire wardrobe a modern feel.  It also gives the eyes more places to go.  You’ll compliment each other while also standing out individually.  Navy is great for fall and winter shoots.  Mixing textures such as cable-knit sweaters, velvet, corduroy, ruffles, and leather shoes will look great for outdoor shoots.


Navy can also seem aloof and cool, so too much navy will be too uniform, which can be boring.  You will also blend into one another, which is why pairing with a lighter color will break this up.

Below I’ve created mood boards for navy as the main color.  Consider adding an element of your own style, whether you’re going for a little bit more of a playful, romantic, funky, bohemian, or dramatic/formal feel.


Adding soft pink and ruffles gives the look a sweet, playful, feel.

But what if mom wants to wear some florals??

Read more …