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Wardrobe Style Guide for Family Photos

Desirable wardrobe color combinations for photo shoots with Artistry by Jennifer Lee Johnson, hairstylist, makeup artist and photographer in Newport RI

Imagine a bucket of gray paint mixed in with the colors

Wardrobe Style Guide on What to Wear for Family Photos


Picking out what to wear for family photos can seem daunting. Usually, you will have something at home that can be used. If you don’t have something at home, a quick stop to a store that has current fashions might be in order. Wardrobe does not need to be “name-brand” or have a high fashion label. A picture will not show the texture or feel of the fabric so it’s not important that it be expensive. Find a store that has current trends for lower cost. Examples of stores are Forever 21, H&M, Top Shop, Target, Carters, etc.

Where do I start?

  • Imagine what you want to see on your wall. Think of the images that inspire you. What is your vision? If you are really lost, give me a call.

What colors do I wear?

  • Avoid neon colors near the face (this can cause a bright color cast on the skin).

  • Avoid primary colors. Choose colors with a muted tone. Imagine throwing a gallon of grey paint into a color.

  • Avoid solid white. A bright white will blow out the photograph and might make the images difficult to edit.

  • Avoid solid black. The color black will cause the subject matter to recede and not pop from the background.

  • Do not wear the same color head to toe.

  • Consider the time of the year. Don’t wear fall colors in front of a bright yellow flower field. For inspiration, Google “What are the colors of this year’s season?”

  • Consider the location. Try to coordinate, do not match.

  • i.e.: Don’t wear a bright green t-shirt when the shoot is planned for a location in a field.

  • i.e.: Consider pastels vs. head to toe taupe on a sandy beach.

What are the rules for patterns and pattern combinations?

  • Rules? Nope! Use your best judgment! If it doesn’t work, try something else. Some of the best shots combine contrasting elements: hard and soft, bright and pastel, dark and light. Mix floral patterns with stripes, polka dots or even plaid. The possibilities are endless.

  • Keep in mind that your wardrobe needs to be visually appealing.

  • Try to coordinate, do not match.

Do you have maternity dresses I can wear?

  • I do! Currently, I own 3 dresses for you to choose from.

  • Colors I own: White, maroon, and navy blue.

  • Bring your own undergarments such as a strapless bra, and no show underwear.

  • Bring your own accessories such as jewelry and hair accessories.

  • Photography clients get 30% off hair and makeup services.

What do you recommend for boys?

  • Look at periods of history for inspiration. For example, a white tank with suspenders, jeans, and a newsboy cap look really cute. Boys also look great in tweed suits.

  • Layer up. For example, pair a knit cap with an undershirt and a button down top, jeans, and a belt.

  • Avoid animated t-shirts or graphics.

What do you recommend for young girls?

  • Dresses!

  • Layers!

  • Avoid: Leggings paired with a onesie.

  • Avoid: Massive headbands

What should my Husband wear?

  • Keep the wardrobe clean and simple.

  • A contrast always looks beautiful.

  • If one person is in a dress or something that is “busy” or more extravagant, the other should be in a clean and pressed button-down shirt and suit pants. Bring the suit coat and leave it unbuttoned.

  • Look at fashion magazines and catalogs for inspiration.

Do I need to accessorize? What about jewelry? What about props?

  • Less is more. Keep it simple. Don’t wear too much jewelry.

  • Bring the lovey! (*a “lovey” is a child’s favorite stuffed animal, etc.).

  • Don’t bring props unless it’s something simple that can be interacted with while posing for the session. i.e.: coffee cups, tree ornament, book, wand, stuffed animal, etc.

Can I ask you for further suggestions?

  • Of course! Send me a quick cell phone picture of your ideas laid out on your floor or bed.

What if I don’t have a proper wardrobe?

  • Let me know!

  • If it’s down to the wire, simply bring a couple options to the shoot. I will make suggestions then. Be sure to press and hang your options.


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