What to wear…

Clothing For Portrait Photography


What you wear is key for a successful portrait session.

Clothing complements who you are as a family, speaks to the environment in which the session is taking place, and coordinates with the home where final images will be displayed. Your style should be as unique as your family, so I’ve put together some clothing advice for a creative, comfortable session.



Be sure to plan your outfits completely a few days before your session. Here are some general rules:

  • One really great idea is to schedule a consultation a week or two before your session. Whenever possible, I love to take the opportunity to meet with my clients to discuss wardrobe options, as well as stylistic preferences for your images.
  • Choose a color palette of 3-4 colors that look great together, and mix it up. You want a cohesive feel, but without being overly “matchy-matchy”. Picture a page in a clothing catalog where everyone coordinates, but nobody stands out more than the rest. If you are unsure where to begin, choose outfits for the kids first and then find something for the parents that will go nicely with those.
  • Light colors look better on light backgrounds (the beach, for instance). Darker colors look better on darker backgrounds (say, the woods). Midtones usually work really well. Black should be used sparingly (perhaps as layering pieces), as should white.
  • Generally, sleeveless shirts and shorts on adults tend not to flatter, but layered clothing is fantastic.
  • Maybe arrange your outfits ahead of time on a big bed, including accessories. If any one item grabs too much attention, perhaps it should go.
  • Make sure all clothes are clean & pressed and on hangers a few days before your session, to avoid wrinkles.
  • Clean & stylish shoes are always a good idea.



BABIES & KIDS can be bolder with color & style.


  • to show off their fun style with layered clothing, bright colors
  • non-fussy, casual clothes to keep kids comfortable and for natural expressions of their real personalities
  • clothes that fit well, are not too large or too small


  • baggy clothes, especially on babies & toddlers
  • clothes with logos or writing on them
  • hair in eyes. If bangs are too long or kids need a haircut, please get it done before the session




  • clothes that flatter your body type & coordinate well with the rest of the group
  • layered looks
  • solid colors, which usually photograph best. Mid-to-dark tones are much more flattering than white or pastels.
  • to have hair cut a week, or so before the session (men)
  • to have hair styled before the session (women)
  • manicured / trimmed nails
  • to wear natural makeup that is maybe just slightly more than you would usually wear
  • simple accessories
  • glare-free eyeglasses


  • dressy clothes, unless it is a formal event
  • big, white, leather sneakers
  • white, cream, or pastel clothing (tends to wash people out and is usually unflattering)
  • sleeveless shirts & shorts, which tend not to flatter adults
  • logos & bold patterns
  • five o’clock shadow
  • colored hair in need of a touch-up (roots can be tricky to retouch)


Want more examples & inspiration? Check out my “what to wear” board on Pinterest for great examples and color combinations.