My portrait clients always ask me (usually in a stressed tone) about what to wear for their upcoming session. I get it – choosing an outfit that makes you feel incredible and flatters you perfectly is hard enough… coordinating your fiancé, family or kids adds a whole ‘nother level of stress! I’ve put together a list of DOs and DON’Ts for choosing your outfits and accessories below! Some of these apply only to family portrait sessions, but these are good guidelines for engagement, couple, maternity and group photos of any kind.

Also, instead of reinventing the wheel and putting together outfit inspiration boards in every color, I’ve decided to collect a bunch on my KMH Pinterest page! Browse through them and search for more if you have specific colors in mind – Pinterest can be a great source of inspiration!


  • Pick one or two colors and mix them together or with a neutral. All neutrals (grays, creams and browns) is a classic good look.
  • Accessorize with jackets, jewelry, cool shoes, hair bows for little girls, scarves and even blankets to wrap you up in.
  • Feel comfortable and like “you”.
  • Start with the woman’s outfit, or a little girl’s outfit, and then choose the guys’ clothes around it. It can be hard for us girls to find something we can feel comfortable and awesome in, so find that first and go from there.
  • Wear makeup and fake lashes if you are comfortable, and style your hair so it falls around your face.
  • Even better: get your hair and makeup professionally done! You’ll feel AMAZING for your shoot. (contact me for hair and makeup artist recommendations)
  • Make sure each person is at the same level of casual-ness or dressy-ness.
  • Match the season.
  • If you’re all wearing jeans, make sure they are similar washes (one light and one dark can look odd). The exception is white or colored jeans.
  • Match your location’s style (down-home desert rustic, easy breezy greenery, edgy downtown, modern chic).
  • Go for texture and layers (if it’s cool enough outside).
  • Patterns can be fun but use sparingly – for example you don’t want everyone wearing stripes because that would be a little overwhelming; but you also don’t want one person wearing stripes, one wearing plaid and one wearing paisley. Of course, use your discretion. If it looks great, do it!
  • Lay everything out on the floor or bed to see how it all goes together. Feel free to send me a photo if you want my opinion.
  • Visit my Pinterest page for inspiration!


  • Overmatch! Even if you’re not wearing the exact same shirt style, the days of everyone wearing white shirts and khakis are long gone. Go for a more contemporary look with coordinating outfits, rather than matching outfits.
  • Wear hats, as they shade the face too much. Beanies and little kid hats are the exception to this. In any case, I’d recommend only using them for some of the shots so you have both looks to choose from.
  • Wear prominent brand names, logos, or graphic tees.
  • Dress like you’re going into the office for the day – you’ll feel stiff and not like your usual outside-the-workplace self. More natural is the way to go.
  • Bring multiple outfits and ask me to choose on the day of the portraits. Time is usually limited with light and we want to make the best of it! If you need help deciding before the session, don’t hesitate to contact me!

Ok! That said, rules are meant to be broken. 🙂 If something seems like an awesome idea, just do it! Here are a few beautiful examples of family portrait outfit coordination…

kmh_family_nelson_02kmh-family-02 kmh-family-12kmh-familyoutfits2kmh-family-06kmh-familyoutfits1

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