What to Wear Guide

South Bay - Los Angeles Family Photographer


Deciding what to wear for your session can seem like a huge chore.  Following these simple tips will help you chose the perfect outfits for your upcoming session with ease!  Don’t forget to check your closet first!

brothers reading in the forest

Casual or Dressy? - I recommend somewhere right in the middle.  These portraits aren't just for holiday cards!  They are to hang in your home and gift to family!  You want to be able to recognize yourself in your photos! Now, if you usually wear yoga pants and a tank top, I'd say that's too casual, but if you go to work in suits, I'd say that's too dressy.  Try to find a balance somewhere in the middle and make sure you choose clothes that are comfortable to move and have fun in!

Choose YOUR outfit first!  I hold firmly to the notion that if you feel beautiful and comfortable during your session, you will feel better about the experience and the resulting photos.  I recommend my moms wear long dresses because they are feminine and photograph beautifully.  However, if you aren't a dress person, DON'T STRESS!  Choose your favorite pair of jeans with a pretty top and dress it up with a bit of jewelry or a scarf if it's the fall/winter months.

Coordinate, DON'T match.  All the other outfits should coordinate, NOT match.  Choose a couple main colors based on your outfit and go from there. I believe there is beauty in having a variety of colors and patterns in one photo, as long as they coordinate well.  Blues and yellows go great together.  Maroon and Orange go great with cream.  Soft pink and light teal are also a great pair.  Once you have your colors, you can more easily know what to look for in the rest of the family's outfits.

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Keep it simple.  Your husband's outfit can be a button down shirt in a color from your dress and a pair of jeans or slacks.  Although I don't recommend open toed shoes, any other shoes will usually work.  With outdoor portraiture, you're best best is to wear something you can easily walk in.  Make sure he brushes his hair and that his clothes are pressed (or at least not terribly wrinkled) and clean but otherwise, dad can be checked off the list!

Kids Clothing:  I recommend shopping for your kids in their closet first!  If you have some pieces that work, that's great! You saved yourself some money and an extra trip to the store.  If you find that you need to go buy some clothes for the kids, I suggest checking the local stores like My Toddler's Closet or Lollipop, both in Redondo Beach.  You can also try Janie and Jack, Gap or Old Navy.  You'll probably be able to get all their clothes in one store since stores typically carry coordinating colors for girls and boys at the same time.

For girls, dresses are great!  If she's in diapers, it's best if you can get a diaper romper to cover her bum up so your images aren't accidentally advertising Huggies :)!  I bring a blanket with me, so if she's too little to walk we can have her sit on the blanket. Otherwise, cute socks, shoes and a hair accessory make a girls dress have just the right touch of flare!  

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For boys, alternate their tops and bottoms.  Have one boy wear a dark colored bottom and light top and the other boy wear a light colored bottom and a dark top.  One or two of the kids can have a pattern on their shirts as long as it doesn't clash terribly with your dress.  Brush their hair, pick a pair of shoes and they're done!

What to Avoid: Make sure to steer clear of neon colors, logos, characters (even if your daughter is as obsessed with Frozen as mine is), and lettering on any of the clothes.  You should also shy away from wearing all white or all black outfits, if possible.

Textures are awesome - scarves, hats, accessories, sweaters.  Various textures add interest and character to your outfits so I say go for it!  Especially in the cooler months, embrace a multi-layer outfit and even get sweaters that go with your overall color coordination so if it's cold you aren't stuck with PJ Mask sweatshirts!

Make sure it fits - I know some parents like to buy clothes a bit big so your child has room to grow into it, but for family photos it's better to have an outfit that fits well than one that's sagging or hanging off the shoulders. If you tend to purchase a bit big, go for 'just right' this time around.

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Plan Ahead - Once you book your session, start scouring your closets and looking to create your wardrobe collection.  It can take a good couple weeks for you to have time to find what you want to wear as well as the right outfits for the rest of your family.  Once you have everything picked out, iron them if you want, hang them in your closet and mark them as 'out of bounds' for anyone to wear.  This is especially important for the kids clothes although if you have a baby who spits up a lot, I'd recommend you and your husband avoid your outfits, too so you don't get your clothes messed up the week before!  Then, only have your kids change into their clothes right before you leave for your session!

Hair and Makeup - For mom, hair and makeup isn't a must but it sure does feel nice. I leave this up to you, momma.  Even if you don't do makeup and hair professionally, though, I do recommend you do it yourself, even minimally.  Leave yourself enough time on the day of to get some basic makeup on and do your hair. Just be sure not to get hair cuts the week before, so no one's hair looks too intense!  But if you love feeling dolled up, and wanna make a hair and makeup appointment, go for it! You do you!

Note for Newborn Clients - If you are having a newborn portrait session, we are either having it where you gave birth or in your home.  With that in mind, I would recommend you go a bit more casual with your outfits and although most of the above applies, I'd also recommend you stick to simpler color palates, neutral tones and of course, no need to worry about shoes :). As a mom who just gave birth, it's okay to wear a maternity shirt or a loose fitting dress or top with yoga pants.  Just as long as your top makes it easy to nurse in, feels comfortable, has little to no stains, and looks a little nicer than what you usually wear, you're doing just fine so don't stress!


Alright! I hope that helps you find your style and know where to start and end when it comes to your photo session wardrobe.  Clients will sometimes text me pictures of outfits they're considering and I'm more than happy to help with that!  My cell is 310-309-1244.  Can't wait to see what you choose to wear and I know it'll be just right!