© Clark Knight

What to Wear for Family Portaits

The goal of a good photography portrait is to direct the viewer’s eye to the subject’s face. All other elements should be secondary. Not sure what to wear during your family portrait session? It’s a lot to consider—after all, these portraits will hang on the walls of your home for a long time, and it might even be passed down through generations. Here are a few tips to help you and your family look your best!

Be Timeless

Clothing can easily date your portrait.  For that reason, simple clothing with a timeless cut and style works best.  Long-sleeves are a good call for most portraits, taking attention away from the arms and keeping it on the faces and expressions.  Jeans can be timeless and casual.  Darker clothing recedes in the image and can appear slimming.

Color & Style

Instead of looking for top-to-bottom looks for everyone in your family, decide on a color scheme that works for all. Different hues of the same color family or complementary colors work great together. Ideally, keep your clothing selection within the same style (dressy, casual, sporty, etc.). For a soft, timeless look, choose neutral colors in classic styles. Want to showcase the fun and spunky side of your family? Choose coordinating colors with bold accents to complement each other (but not matchy-matchy). Bold patterns and bright colors can detract from a portrait, but if it’s your style you may want to consider pairing bold patterns with solids. 


Scarves, hats, bows, bow ties…they can all add a little ‘fun’ to your timeless style. Accessories are also a great way to coordinate looks, and props can help express your family’s unique personality.


Layers will not only provide more visual interest in your photos but they will also allow a lot more variety in your shots and poses.  Layering also lets you easily and quickly vary your look; simply add a sweater, jacket, or hat and you have an entirely different look.

Comfort Counts

Remember: the goal of your photoshoot is to capture the members of your family as they are today. Choose clothing they love to wear and that accentuates their individual personalities. Consider that you might be sitting or leaning in different poses. You want to wear something that you feel very comfortable in and that will cover any areas you do not want to show in the images.

Try this. Layout everyone’s clothing together in the room where your portrait will be displayed so that you can see how the colors, patterns, and textures of the photo will complement those of the room itself. Replace outfits and add accessories until you achieve a fresh and exciting look for that room.

Looking for color palette ideas?   Explore Color Palettes