Can you help with clothing suggestions?


Clothing Suggestions for Great Family Portraits

Picking the “look” for family portraits doesn’t have to be complicated. Follow these simple clothing suggestions and have fun! Before you begin, decide on the general feel of the portrait and tailor your clothes to fit in that environment.  For example, a man shouldn’t wear a business suit for a portrait in a meadow. A more “classical” studio portrait should feature more classical clothing. If you have any questions, give us a call!

Begin with a Neutral Theme

For a classic look, start with solid fabrics. Add a little pattern and splashes of color with the children’s outfits and accessories on the adults (scarf, shawl, cardigan, hat, etc.).

Do not mix dark and light tops and bottoms, especially in larger groups. Mixing darks and lights create a busy look. Keeping the entire group in darker tones or lighter tones simplifies and draws attention to the faces.

Good Clothes Sample

A great example of clothing in a family portrait.

To Slenderize

Dark clothing tends to slenderize, especially against darker backdrops. Long sleeves and dark stockings also slenderize and simplify. Sleeveless tops make your arms look bigger.

For a Natural Look

Sweaters and other long-sleeved knits help you look relaxed. Layered tops add depth and dimension. Jeans are great because they allow us to sit people on the ground. For outdoor portraits, autumn colors or jewel tones work better than pastels.

For a Formal Group

For a stunning formal portrait, start with a blend of rich, understated colors, not too “matchy”. Add a little dark-on dark pattern in accessories. Don’t be afraid to spice it up with a color splash, over-the-top fabrics, necklines, and jewelry. Darker tones work well to simplify the overall look.

Try this:  Lay out everyone’s clothing together in the room where your portrait will live. Replace outfits and add accessories until you achieve a fresh and exciting look for that room.


Low Contrast Clothing for Family Portraits

Faces in a family portrait should be the very first thing you notice. But clothing sometimes competes for the viewer’s attention. Clothing that simplifies a group portrait is usually made up of all lighter or darker tones, not a mix of the two.

A common mistake is mixing dark tops with light bottoms, or visa-versa. This can create a high contrast, “busy” scene, especially with larger groups.

We suggest a mix of medium-light to light outfits. For even more thinning and flattering portraits, choose a blend of dark colors. Darks de-emphasize the bodies and feature the faces in the family.

Save strong patterns and contrasting colors for areas you want to feature, like young children in the group. Otherwise, choose solid fabrics of slightly varying tones.

Add interest to the clothing by choosing fabrics with dramatic texture, sheen, or cut… we’re not suggesting the portraits be dull!

Breaking the Rules with Pattern

Bold use of pattern-on-pattern is a current trend and can make for a compelling portrait. However, like most trends, these highly colorful images will become dated more quickly.


If you would like more help in choosing your outfits, you can schedule an appointment with Dani Slaugh, an image consultant. She has written an article about dressing for family portraits. You can read her post and schedule an appointment, click here!