Dress to Impress: Tips for Choosing the Perfect Outfits for Your Family Portrait Session
A family sits on a bench in a park.

As a family photographer, I have had the pleasure of capturing beautiful family photos for many families over the years. One of the most popular questions I get asked the most is how to choose the perfect outfits for a family photography session and since this can be a source of great stress for lots of people before their photoshoots, I’ve put together a helpful guide! , I’ll share my tips and advice on how to choose the perfect outfits for your family portrait session in Minnesota.

1. Consider the Location and Season 

The first thing to consider when choosing outfits for your family portrait session is the location and season. If you’re having your photos taken outdoors in Minnesota, you’ll want to consider the weather and choose outfits that will keep everyone warm and comfortable. 

For example, if you are doing fall family portraits, you may want to consider wearing layers, such as a sweater over a shirt, or a scarf to add some texture and interest to your outfit. If you are doing a winter family photo session, you may want to consider wearing warm, cozy coats or jackets, hats, and gloves to keep everyone warm.

You will want to pay attention to the location of your photoshoot. If you’re having your session in a natural setting, you may want to choose outfits that complement the natural surroundings, such as earthy tones. If there are lot of green trees, you may want to avoid greens and browns so you don’t blend into the background. If you’re having your photos taken in an urban setting, you may want to choose outfits that are more modern and contemporary, such as black and white or bold, bright colors.

2. Choose a Color Story 

Once you’ve considered the location and season, the next step is to choose a color scheme for your family’s outfits. Choosing a color story will help you create a cohesive look for your family’s portraits. Start by choosing two to three main colors and build your outfits around those colors. You can then add in other colors and patterns to add interest and variety to your outfits. When choosing colors, it’s important to consider what colors look best on each family member.

Some colors may wash out certain skin tones or clash with hair and eye colors. For example, if someone in your family has red hair, you may want to avoid wearing bright reds and oranges, as they may clash with the hair color. If someone in your family has a fair complexion, you may want to avoid wearing pale colors, as they may wash out the skin tone.

Here are some color schemes you can consider for your family’s outfits:

  • Neutrals: Black, white, gray, and beige are timeless and versatile colors that can be dressed up or down. These colors work well in any season and complement almost any setting. If you choose to go with neutral colors, consider adding in some texture, such as a knit sweater or a leather jacket, to add interest and depth to your outfits. –
  • Earth tones: Browns, greens, and blues are colors that complement natural settings and work well in outdoor locations. Earth tones are great for fall and winter photoshoots and can be paired with warm, cozy textures like wool and flannel. –
  • Bold and bright colors: If you want to add some personality and energy to your family’s outfits, consider choosing bold, bright colors like red, yellow, or turquoise. These colors work well in urban settings and can be paired with neutral colors to create a balanced look. –
  • Pastels: Soft, muted colors like blush, lavender, and mint can create a gentle, romantic look for your family’s portraits. Pastels work well in spring and summer photoshoots and can be paired with floral prints and light fabrics.

3. Coordinate, Don’t Match 

When choosing outfits for your family, it’s important to coordinate, not match. Coordinating outfits means choosing colors and styles that complement each other. Here are some tips for coordinating your family’s outfits: –

  • Start with one outfit: Start by choosing one outfit that you love and build the rest of the outfits around it. This can be a dress or a shirt with a pattern or a color that you really like
  • Mix and match: Don’t be afraid to mix and match patterns and colors. For example, you could pair a plaid shirt with a floral skirt, or a striped sweater with a solid-colored dress.
  • Use accessories: Accessories are a great way to tie everyone’s outfits together. Consider using the same color or style of accessories, such as matching hats, scarves, or shoes. 
  • Consider different styles: Not everyone in your family has to wear the same style of outfit. For example, one person could wear a dress, another could wear a sweater and jeans, and another could wear a button-down shirt and slacks. As long as the colors and styles complement each other, you’ll create a cohesive look

4. Avoid Logos and Busy Patterns

When choosing outfits it’s best to avoid clothing with logos and busy patterns. Busy patterns can also be distracting and can clash with other patterns in the photo. Instead, choose clothing with simple, clean lines and subtle patterns. 

5. Don’t Forget About Shoes

Shoes are an important part of your family’s outfit and should be considered when choosing what to wear. Avoid sneakers and athletic shoes, they can be distracting and take away from the overall look of the photo. Instead, opt for shoes that complement the outfit, such as boots, flats, or dress shoes.

6. Examples of Outfits for Different Situations Now that you have a better idea of how to choose the perfect outfits for your family portrait session, let’s take a look at some examples of outfits for different situations.

Fall Family Photoshoot For a fall family photo shoot in Minnesota, you’ll want to choose warm, cozy outfits with earthy tones and textures. Here’s an example:

  • Mom: Burgundy sweater, plaid skirt, brown ankle boots
  • Dad: Charcoal gray sweater, khaki pants, brown leather boots 
  • Son: Dark green sweater, jeans, brown boots
  • Daughter: Cream-colored sweater dress, leggings, brown boots

Winter Family Photoshoot For a winter family photoshoot in Minnesota, you’ll want to choose warm, layered outfits with bold, bright colors to stand out against the snow.

Here’s an example:

  • Mom: Red sweater, black pants, black boots, black coat
  • – Dad: Navy blue sweater, gray pants, brown leather boots, black coat
  • – Son: Bright blue sweater, black pants, black boots, navy blue coat
  • – Daughter: Purple sweater dress, black leggings, black boots, pink coat

Spring Family Photoshoot For a spring family photoshoot in Minnesota, you’ll want to choose soft, pastel colors and floral prints.

Here’s an example:

  • Mom: Blush-colored dress, beige cardigan, nude heels
  • Dad: Light blue button-down shirt, khaki pants, brown leather shoes 
  • Son: Gray button-down shirt, navy blue pants, brown dress shoes 
  • Daughter: Pink floral dress, white cardigan, white sandals

Summer Family Photoshoot For a summer family photoshoot in Minnesota, you’ll want to choose light, breathable fabrics and bright, bold colors.

Here’s an example:

  • Mom: Yellow sundress, brown sandals
  • Dad: Light blue button-down shirt, white pants, brown leather shoes 
  • Son: Bright green polo shirt, khaki shorts, brown sandals 
  • Daughter: Coral-colored sundress, white sandals 

Things to keep in mind, colors that go well together When coordinating outfits for your family portrait session, it’s important to choose colors that complement each other. 

Here are some color combinations that work well together:

  • Navy blue and burgundy
  • Light blue and gray
  • Olive green and cream
  • Blush pink and beige
  • Mustard yellow and brown
  • Bright red and black
  • Coral and white
  • Bright blue and khaki

Grab My Free Guide to Help you Plan Your Outfits

As promised, I am offering a free guide to download for those who sign up. This guide includes more tips and examples for coordinating your family’s outfits for a portrait session. It also includes a checklist to help you prepare for your session and a list of recommended locations for a portrait session in Minnesota.

To download the freebie guide, simply sign up with your email address. You’ll receive an email with a link to download the guide, as well as future updates and offers from my studio! 


Free download planning guide for your family portraits.

Choosing the perfect outfits for your family portrait session can seem like a stressful thing to do, but it doesn’t have to be. By following these tips and examples, you’ll be able to coordinate your family’s outfits to create a cohesive, beautiful look. Remember to start with one outfit, mix, and match patterns and colors, use accessories, avoid logos and busy patterns, and don’t forget about shoes. And don’t forget to download our freebie guide for more tips and recommendations.


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