Family Photoshoot Philosophy - Fashion Do's and Don'ts
With holiday photo season in full swing, I thought I'd share a topic I get asked about frequently...How To Style an Entire Family for a Photo Shoot?
My family photo style philosophy:
Children are the real “stars” in family photos so make your babies shine! Whether you have toddlers or teens ,style your children first! I always choose my children’s outfits first and THEN my own. The men in our family are styled last and typically wear a solid button down or muted stripe or plaid. Let a favorite boutique dress you found for your daughter or cute, festive bow tie for your young son guide your color choices.
If you’re a styling rookie:
Not sure where to begin? Search Pinterest for color schemes for family photos. I always try to use three colors for the children’s outfits...two vibrant colors and a neutral like gray or white. I find color palettes that include greens or blues to be safe choices for families with children of all ages. The green family pairs easily with almost every color in every season. From aquamarine in the spring, kelly green in summer, forest green in the fall and true green in winter, there’s a complimentary color for every shade. The same can be said with blues and I LOVE navy as a color base. Pair navy with pink, yellow, green, white, red or gray for a classy and polished look.
Fashion Family Do’s:
Everyone (maybe not dad) wears an accessory! Don’t be afraid to be a little over the top in photos..accessories add interest to an outfit and photo. Tutus, feathers, headbands, bows, wands, boots...anything goes for little girls in photos. For the boys, I love suspenders, hats, vests, bow ties, a favorite toy..bring them all.
If you're looking for a more neutral color palette, choose three neutral colors (like oatmeal, white and powder blue) and be sure to add texture! A chunky sweater, bell sleeves on a little girl, a demure tutu or suspenders can really add interest to softer colors.
For moms, a scarf or statement necklace can add a great pop of color. I love brightly colored, 3/4 sleeve length cardigan sweaters or classic wrap dresses. The 3/4 length top, sweater or dress can actually give the illusion of being thinner so its my personal favorite. The wrap dress has been a wardrobe stable since the 60's because it really does work on every figure. (Click the images below for purchase details.)
Also for moms, showing your waistline by wearing a wrap dress, tucking in the front of a sweater or wearing a belt is a great way to accentuate your figure, regardless of your size. While we all love our large sweaters and shapeless, flowy dresses, these tend to make women look bigger in photos. Also, if you have a large chest and are photographed at an angle, it can add unwanted pounds to your figure depending on what you’re wearing. Find an outfit with some structure to it as this is universally a more flattering style for women.
Finally, fake eye lashes from the drug store and a self-tanner or spray tan can really polish off your look. I never wear fake eye lashes during the day but for most photos, I do because it really enhances my eyes.
For teenagers, I love tunic dresses or tunics with leggings. Check Free People for great options. For a more feminine teen, I also love a tulle skirt paired with a simple, gap tank or tee in any season. For athletic girls, “skater dresses” with converse may be a nice compromise or jeans with a brightly colored shirt is always a safe bet. Maybe add an infinity scarf or fun necklace for interest. For the boys, Vineyard Vines makes pants in muted colors that are actually acceptable for teenage boys. I have a fairly picky teenage son and he doesn’t mind his “cobalt,” “lobster reef,” “dusk” or “Antigua green” Breaker pants from Vineyard Vines. The colors are faded so not over the top in color. I also love TJ Maxx for colored Ralph Lauren Polos if you want to use the color on top.
Fashion Family Dont’s
Avoid harsh patterns and stripes. Muted versions are okay, but don’t complicate the photo with block patterns, vertical solid stripes or anything too trendy.
Please retire the look where everyone in the family wears a white or black shirt paired with khakis and denim. This look has been around since the early 90’s and if you’re still defaulting to this, it’s time to add some color!
I also always avoid the cold-shoulder tops and anything with straps across the chest. While I know that both of these styles are trendy right now, I think they can photograph poorly and date a photo. I also feel the same way about jeans with holes. Always choose a classic look over a trendy one.
Unless you love your triceps, biceps, side boob and bra fat area, avoid a plunge or open back halter style top or dress. Although a halter can boost cleavage, unless that’s the look you’re going for in a family photo, I’d leave it at home. Typically, the backs of arms and back fat areas are hard for a lot of women to tone so avoid a halter that can highlight that area. Alternatively, an off the shoulder look is a great way to tastefully show skin without showcasing those trouble spots.
Ankle straps on shoes can make your leg look thicker at the ankle and cut the visual line of a long leg. If you want the look of a nice, long leg, opt for a nude or skin colored heel.
Where to buy great kids clothes:
I have several favorite online boutiques that I shop at constantly!
1. Rainey’s Closet – This is a GENIUS boutique that RENTS gorgeous dresses, like Tutu DuMonde, with all of the accessories! You get to keep them from four to eight days, don’t even have to clean them and then just send them back in the bag they provide. Its so easy! How many of us have Christmas dresses and special occasion dresses hanging in closets that our girls wore once? I rented these dresses from Rainey's Closet for my husband’s college Hall of Fame induction and for our holiday photo shoot. Dresses average $24-38 dollars for four days and if you use a promotional code, you can get them for less than $20! Use code MommyMayhem20 at checkout for 20% rentals and ROGO50 for 50% off second item.
2. Beyond Princess Boutique – Great online boutique that sells Tutu DuMonde and offers discounts for multiple dresses. Also, has great Christening, baptismal and First Communion dresses. Use code MommyMayhem at checkout for a 20% discount.
3. Matilda Jane – My girls’ closet is mainly a collection of this line. I love their knit, colorful, mix and match clothing. We have worn this for so many family photos and with so many colors to choose from, its so easy to style! This is also great for hand me downs because the colors don't fade. Matilda Jane is so popular that there are actually resale groups on Facebook for people buying and selling used clothing. You can also check out this Matilda Jane Facebook page if you need someone to put outfits together for you.
4. Labellafora Children’s Boutique – GiggleMoon and Mustard Pie are two great lines that this online boutique carries. Lots of great sales as well!
5. Vineyard Vines – Preppier clothes that I love for everyone in my family, especially the men! Lots of muted color options for the boys…pants, ties, button downs. You can also find this line at Nordstrom and often, TJ Maxx.
6. The 2 Dope Kids - If you follow my Instagram (Jenny Remiold,) you will notice that our newly adopted son has a lot of cute onesies that say things like “Amen” and “Pretty Boy Swag.” This Etsy shop is where I get a lot of the baby “hipster” clothes that he wears. Super cute clothes for babies and toddler boys.
7. Antsy Pants – Another great Esty boutique for the boys. I got my son’s suspenders and tie outfit here. This is a super cute shop with handcrafted outfits and coordinating knit hats. Love this look because its so much more comfortable for the baby!
8. The Couture Baby - One of my all time favorite shops! Great dresses and BOYS OUTFITS! This boutique carries great accessories but best of all, they will custom embroider anything for you. I have had Disney outfits created by them and years worth of baseball outfits for my girls made here. Even when my husband was traded to a different team, owner Marissa whipped something up and shipped them to me at a hotel! This is a fabulous store with expert customer service.
9. Lambkins Children's Boutique - This boutique, out of Western Pennsylvania, happens to be owned by my mother in law. She posts affordable and INEXPENSIVE outfits on here all of the time! Like her on Facebook and she just ships to you. Since she doesn't have a traditional website, she generally ends up with a lot of inventory that she sells for 50% off. This is a great little treasure for boutique clothing.
Where Mom can shop:
I buy almost everything online. With seven kids and little time, I take advantage of free shipping and free returns by companies that send prepackaged return bags for me. Alternatively, if I can pay $5-10 for the convenience of avoiding a mall and trying things on at home, it’s worth it for me.
1. Nordstrom - Great sales, free shipping and free returns. I’ve purchased several dresses on clearance for under $65. Lush and b.p are two of Nordstrom’s in house lines that I just love because they are inexpensive and designed well. They have great 3/4 shirts and tunics I have worn in several photos. Look for "roll tab sleeve" options because those styles are typically very flattering.
2. Revolve - A little more expensive but again, free shipping and free returns. Great dresses!!!!!!
3. Modern Vintage Boutique - This is an inexpensive boutique that has great maxis, sweaters and accessories.
4. Lulus - With maxi dresses under $50, this is a great boutique to search for inexpensive and stylish dresses and outfits. I wouldn’t say it’s the highest quality but when you’re searching for a color and a style to compliment a particular theme or color, this is a great place to look.
5. Red Dress Boutique. A lot of great tops and dresses, especially a lot that showcase waistlines!
6. My favorite feminine dress line is Needle and Thread. Although these can be expensive when found on Nordstrom, Revolve and Saks unless on clearance (which they are a lot), I have found dresses worn once on Poshmark.com and eBay. I’ve had two successful purchases on both websites. Just know that this is a British designer so buy one size larger than what your normally wear. I’m a 4 and fit perfectly into their 6 as does my teenage daughter.
If you like the dress below, be sure to read "Styling Sunset Photo Shoots" where I list dress details and offer copy cat options.
7. Eliza J – Love this line sold at Nordstrom. With traditional and plus size options, this designer knows how to dress a woman’s figure. Some of my most stylish friends, of all shapes and sizes, rely on Eliza J to outfit for their wardrobe.
One of my dear friend's is a local broadcaster and I always say she is one of the best dressed women I know because she just knows how to flatter her figure. She has a closet full of Eliza J so I've posted some of her looks below. The defined waistline always works! Off the shoulder is another winner. (Black, blue, red and both green dresses are all Eliza J.)