Fashion Friday: What to Wear?

The question I get asked most often from my amazing clients is, “What should we wear?” So I thought I would blog about it.   Everyone wants to look great in photos, especially formal family portraits that will likely hang on your wall for years, or even decades.  Of course, we all want to look our best, thinnest, and most fashionable.  So here are a few tips to making yourself, and your family look their very best:

Suggestion #1:

Stick with mainly solid colors.  This will bring the attention to your faces.  However, you do not need to completely avoid pattern.  To add a splash of pattern to your photos, a handy trick for those who are hesitant to break away from the monotone monochrome is to choose one patterned item (for example a beautiful floral dress for your daughter, or fun multi-colored striped sweater for your son) and then select the color pallet for the rest of the family’s clothing from colors within the patterned piece.

Suggestion #2:

Who doesn’t want to look their thinnest in photos?  Long pants and long sleeves elongate arms and legs and are most flattering on nearly everyone.  Additionally, V-necks tend to be more flattering.  Large areas of bare skin draw attention away from the face.

Suggestion #3:

You do not need to match!  Yes, limiting your color pallet will help bring attention to your faces, but that doesn’t mean that everyone needs to be wearing the exact same color, or shade of that color.  Or that everyone needs to be in matching Polo shirts.  Coordinate outfits: Everyone in the portrait should wear items that complement each other in style and color.  Think of all the clothing in the photo as being one outfit, will they all coordinate and look good together?  Also, imagine various groupings that we will shoot (the entire family, just mom and dad, just the kids, etc.)  Will each grouping look good together?

If you are hesitant to try patterns, one thing I have seen a lot lately is a family selecting one or two colors, but then everyone is wearing a different shade of that color.  That way there is variation and cohesiveness.  Also, adding in some splashes of an accent color and textures really adds depth to your pictures without adding distraction.

Another great look can be to pick a color theme.  Such as spring colors, primary colors, or muted autumnal shades.  That way you don’t have that “we are twins” look, but you still have a cohesive style.  (*See below for some color pallet suggestions. )

Regarding which colors are best, my philosophy is that if you feel good, you will look good.  So wear colors that you love and feel good in.  However, that being said, white is one of my least favorite colors to photograph (unless it is a wedding dress of course!)  I am not saying that it is forbidden, but  it washes a lot of people out.  Additionally, it reflects the color surrounding it.  In other words if you are sitting near someone wearing red, part of your white shirt may now look pink.  But don’t completely avoid white,  splashes of it are a nice accent.

Suggestion #4:

Be comfortable!  I know that sometimes you want a more formal portrait, and that is fine.  But I have photographed a lot of families over the years and the universal theme is that if everyone feels comfortable, they LOOK comfortable, and happier, in the photos.  If you are too hot, you will be sweaty, which isn’t attractive.  If your son tells you that the shirt is hurting his arms, he will be pulling at the arms of his shirt the entire shoot.  Everyone should be as relaxed and happy as possible.

Suggestion #5:

Don’t wear shirts with logo’s.  Not only do they date a portrait, but they will also draw the eye of the viewer directly to the logo rather than the subject of the portraits.

Suggestion #6:

Pay attention to the details.  A great chunky necklace or beautiful scarf can really add an unexpected pop to your photos.  And don’t forget the shoes.  Although I LOVE close up shots, when photographing a large group we often have to get the shoes in the frame to accommodate all the people.   And if someone is wearing their oldest, ratty tennis shoes, it will show.   Or if everyone is wearing darker colors and then there is one pair of shiny, bright  white shoes they will attract all the attention.

Always remember, clothing that blends harmoniously creates timeless portraiture because the viewer’s eye goes directly to the faces.

Here are a few clothing ideas.

Spring Samples:


Summer Samples:


Fall Samples:

Winter & Holiday Samples:

This post was really targeted toward family and group photos,  for any non-group photo: senior portraits, engagement photos, newborn or children portraits, etc.  the rules change.  When you have a large family group you really need to draw attention to the faces or the photo seems too disjointed and chaotic.  However, when photographing just one person, or even a couple, you can show more of your personality through your clothing.  Look to magazine ads and commercials for a look you love that you can replicate.   Also, add props and other items that represent your personality.  Photography is no longer you alone in front of a brown backdrop sitting on a stool.  Go outdoors to your favorite local.  Bring your skateboard and favorite shirt and show us what you got!

From now on, once a month I will be blogging FASHION FRIDAY: WHAT TO WEAR? So keep your eyes open for future fun fashion posts.

If you enjoyed this entry, I would love to hear your comments!  Just click on “comments” below. . .

*Also, now, you can subscribe to my blog and be notified by email each time there is a new entry. Just scroll back up to the top of this page and click on one of the subscribe buttons.  Look for articles on how to dress for the best photos, how to look thinner in your photos, and all sorts of wedding tricks and tips.

One Response to “Fashion Friday: What to Wear?”

  1. Niki Flynn March 11, 2011 at 7:35 pm #

    Miss Stacey… this is a fantastic post! Let’s chat soon… I’d love to know how you put all those cute outfits together and into one great looking post. I wish I could just dress my little family up in one of those suggestions and have you take our pics! :) xox

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