Typically during our session consults we go over clothing ideas and how to pick clothes that are right for your family for your photo session, but since we’re doing snowy mini holiday sessions this year and I’m not able to talk in depth with every client I thought I’d post a handy tips list.
1. Choose a Style
There’s a lot here, I always start with casual, dressy, or somewhere in between. From there you could go rustic (think red plaid shirts, jeans and snow boots), glam (glittery dresses, furry vests and suits), western (red western shirts and cowboy boots), pajamas (Christmas PJs, long underwear), hipster (scarves, skinny jeans and toms), etc. When deciding on a style go with the style of your family, if you’d never be caught dead in western wear, don’t wear it for your family session, you’ll never feel quite happy with the photos. Once you choose a style you can start narrowing down your clothing options.
2. Choose a Color Palette
Understanding color is a subject I could go on and on about. But really what you’re looking for is a color palette of 2-4 colors. Pantone, the godfather of color (if you will), puts out a fashion report every fall and spring that will show you what colors are in for the coming season. You can find that here. It’s like your cheat sheet for color. From that large color palette choose 2-4 colors that you love. Then look for things in those ranges. Clothing designers base their designs on what colors are in for the season so you should have no problem finding these colors in stores.
3. Don’t Be Matchy Matchy
Remember it is not 1990 and we won’t all be in jeans and white t-shirts (sigh, this was a sad time for family photos). You want everyones clothes to go together, but not match exactly. That’s why choosing a style and color palette is so important, they give you the parameters to keep everyone’s looks similar without looking like uniforms or landing you on Awkward Family Photos.
4. Mix Patterns
You can mix patterns. Mom can wear a polka dot shirt, while dad wears a striped sweater and little Sally is in a dress with birds all over it. A mix of patterns can make the photos more interesting and break up the monotony of all solid colors. If the patterns are all in the same color palette they will all go together without looking silly. But, like with everything, you can over do this, so keep it simple but don’t be afraid.
All patterns above can be found on clothing at Gap.
5. Enjoy the Layers
Layer up!! These are holiday photos, wear a t-shirt under a half zipped hoodie with a puffy vest on top! Give little Johnny some skinny jeans, a button up shirt with a sweater over it and a fedora. Dads, wear scarves. Moms, cuff your blazer so we can see the lining. Layering clothing adds depth to the outfits and your pictures, plus it’s really easy to toss off the first layer of coats and have a totally different clothing option without an actual clothing change. Wink wink, make those mini sessions count for all their worth.
This sort of goes with the layers but remember your accessories. For ladies, scarves, earrings, leggings, tights, necklaces, belts bracelets and rings are all things to remember. For the little ladies, hair bows, tights and hats. For the guys there’s hats, belts, scarves, bow ties and sunglasses. Accessories finish off the outfit. AND for the whole family do not forget to think about shoes. Holiday photos are a great time to show off those boots we only get to wear once or twice in Houston. Make sure your shoes (for the whole family) go with the style and color palette of your look. And please, remember socks for the men! If we do a seated pose those socks will show and if he’s wearing dark slacks or jeans I promise those white socks he swore would never show up in the pictures, are the only thing you’re going to see.
7. When in Doubt, Look to the Mannequins
Clothing retailers want you to buy clothes. They spend tons of money paying stylists to come dress the mannequins in their stores. If you go to somewhere like Gap or Old Navy, where they have styles for the whole family, you can literally purchase exactly what is on the family of mannequins at the front of the store and be ready to go with the perfect look. You can also just observe them, look at the layers they’ve included, the mix of pattern, the accessories, the color palette, the style. It’s a visual cheat sheet. If you don’t want to buy exactly those items, or if they’re not in the color palette you prefer, take notes of what you like and go find those things elsewhere.
Over the years we’ve put together clothing guides for our clients, you can find them here, here, and here. While some of the items in these guides may not me “in” you can still check them out to see examples of some of out tips above and how to put things together.
You can also take a look at popular retailers websites. Many have look books or promo videos highlighting outfits and combos.
Lastly, stay tuned to our blog and our Facebook page! We’ll be posting tips, links to cool ideas and more throughout the season.
How do you choose your holiday photo session ensembles? Did you find any of these tips helpful?