What to wear for family portraits

“What do we wear?”

This is the question I get asked most. I never know exactly how to answer because clothing is such a personal choice! So I decided to ask a client who nails it year after year. What’s her secret? How do you dress a family of five for outdoor lifestyle portraits?

Enter Kerri, who will tell you that she is not a professional stylist or expert but maybe she should be. Her advice is simple, approachable and useful.

Here’s a recent email conversation and we hope it helps you walk into your next photo session feeling cute, confident and entirely you!!!

Me: So… where do you even start?

Kerri:  A little inside scoop is that I start with one item, whether it’s P’s dress from last year or both the girls’ dresses from the year before, and go from there. It’s the key piece that pulls it all together. I typically lay everything out on the floor or bed and grab things from everyone’s room to see what I like. Sometimes I buy new, but not always. One of my favs was from the year I was pregnant with p, the year with the pale pink. That all started with Pp’s plaid dress. :). Oh and the very first session was P’s yellow corduroy skirt! 

Me: I remember that skirt! It made the whole thing pop!

Me: Do you plan for Tim (partner) too? 

Kerri: Yes. Again, it’s all about that starting piece and I go from there. He’s usually last and I just go with whats in his closet. 🙂

Me: When do you start thinking about it or planning it?  I love that you don’t necessarily buy new but I guess you have to make time for that? 

Kerri: I’m such a last minute person… I work best under pressure. Would you kill me if I said it’s usually the night before??!?!?! That’s honestly how it’s gone most of the time. The buying new would have to have happened prior, so technically it could be new, but not purchased just for this purpose. This year the girls asked if they could pick something out, but that hasn’t happened yet. I better get on it!

Me: Do you ever consider the environment in your color scheme?  That year with the pale pink really went with the grey barn on site, were you thinking about that? 

Kerri: I haven’t ever thought of this. I have thought about if I’m overdoing a “theme” though. For example, too many fall tones over and over. That’s why I threw in that pale pink/grey one year and then the “dress” up in Christmas attire another. We were totally lucky with that grey barn… it never crossed my mind. For me over thinking it doesn’t work.

Me: I’ll bet some part of you remembered that barn because so much of creative work happens in our subconscious!

Me: One thing I love is that everyone in your fam looks fresh but no one is wearing anything restrictive – your kids are all climbing trees, running around, they’re allowed to have fun.  Do you have any advice for girl moms to keep outfits both cute and active? 

Kerri: I tend to stay away from jeans or anything tight like that. Anything else is game. If I’m remembering, they’re usually in some sort of skirt/dress (although my time is starting to dwindle on that) and/or tights/leggings. Same goes for the top as well… stretchy is better in all aspects of life. HA!

Me: The leggings are clutch, I think. It transforms their dresses into active wear, no worries about undies showing. Plus, it ties into other colors on other family members.

Have you ever gotten pushback on the outfit from the kids?  Do they get to have input or are they just down for the program? 

Kerri: I’m definitely starting to get pushback from P. She tends to not want to match her sister anymore and is definitely growing up. She’s “not into dresses anymore”. However, the dress she wore last year was her choice w/ the Vans. I LOVED it and that was my jumping off point. Pp has the same dress and wanted to wear it too, but I let P have her “spotlight” this time. I think it worked. Now that they’re getting older, they do want to pick out their own things but I’ll always veto if needed. Hey, I’m payin’ for it! Tim and p are just along for the ride. 

Me: The Vans really made that outfit and definitely gave her that grown up moment! I’ll bet lots of families are coming across this very issue as the kids grow, I love that you gave her that independence. Well played, momma!

So there you have it! Its so much easier to begin the process with a single piece of clothing and build from there. Plus, it allows you to work with what you already own and wear! You’ve got this… literally 😉. And it’s so important to consider our kids’ style and identity as they grow too.

The only thing I have to add is make sure they are warm enough and

❤️🧡💛💚💙💜🖤🤍🤎 MAKE IT YOU 🤎🤍🖤💜💙💚💛🧡❤️

Whoever you are! Come as you are.

A HUGE, special thanks to Kerri and the whole family for guiding us through!

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