This post also appears on nicoleromanoff.com. For most people, deciding what to wear for pictures is overwhelming without the added challenge of coordinating with others; the everyone-in-jeans-and-white-t-shirts dress code can work (I’ve seen it happen) but usually, it ends up looking like a bad stock photo. And yet letting each family member pick their favourite outfit and let the chips fall as they may often ends up looking chaotic and disorganised. So how do you decide what to wear for family photos? I have some tips.
Choose from your best-condition pieces.
Don’t feel you have to buy new clothes for photos but do make sure the ones you pick are in good condition. Blacks shouldn’t look faded unless that’s the style of the piece and whites shouldn’t be dingy; you should feel confident in and proud of what you’re wearing.
Think about where the photos will live
If your decor is breezy and light, having photos of your family in formalwear is going to look out of place. If you’ve got a poppy, modern palette you can let that inform your fashion and ditto if your rooms are soft and comfortable.
Expand your colour range
Speaking of palettes, try replacing “wear grey and beige” to “let’s wear muted tones”. Or, pick a season for inspo: “think fall colours” immediately brings to mind a whole array of colours that will mix well. You may even find some art or a fabric in the room for which the photos are destined that can serve as a guide for the family.
Stay on the same page for dressiness
If mom is dressed in her Sunday best but dad is wearing old jeans, things are bound to look sloppy all around. Decide where your outfits would hypothetically be worn and keep the whole family either cocktail chic, casually cool, or nice and cozy.
Layers make an outfit sing
If you want to look put-together but your dressiness level is low, add layers to make every choice look deliberate. Think vests, cardis, casual blazers, a scarf, or a shawl. Just make sure you’re not all in the same layer—too many blazers and you’re going to look like a family Real Estate biz!
Think of texture as another hue in your palette, adding depth, movement, and dynamics to your overall look and informing the feel of your photo. Knits give a cozy appeal, flowy fabrics are whimsical or dramatic, and textures with sheen, shine, and sparkle add a literal polish. (Ladies, just make sure you're wearing the right undergarments if you choose the sheer, flowy looks because the one texture you want to avoid is a ridge right across your bustline).
I’ve put together some great examples of family outfitting, but google is always there for you. Typing in “best family photo outfits” will offer new ideas and may show you a few palettes that reflect your personality, not to mention it will further illustrate the theories we're talking about.
Most important is that your family feels great and like themselves at the photo shoot. For very little ones, give a choice between a couple pieces and for older kids, help them follow the theme without interfering with their personal style (a ten-year-old will understand the idea of a palette so give them some freedom). If mommy-and-me is your family jam, go with it! Don’t stress that your outfitting doesn’t look exactly like what you see on the internet but instead remember that this is a time capsule that’s meant to capture your family, not some stock photo one.
Saskatoon photographer Nicole Romanoff recently photographed my (growing) family and here's a peek at what we ended up wearing. My daughter, Petra is obsessed with bright pink, ruffles, dresses, and crowns so she and I chose an outfit from her closet and went from there because, let's face it, when I'm choosing photos to print, the first thing I look for is her joy. And in terms of colour, I actually laid out the clothes on her bed as I was choosing because I plan to hang a big canvas print in her room and want it to fit well (scroll to the end for a pic of my inspo / her room).
Feeling confident and ready to take on everyone's closets for your upcoming photo shoot? I hope so. But if you're taking this all in and still stressing, you can always call a fashionable friend or stylist to come help you pull it all together. (And yes, I make housecalls. Wink!)