What to Wear: Family Holiday Session

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‘Tis the season for family holiday sessions!

One question I’m often asked is how to dress for a family portrait.  I always have the same response: Remember you are not a team, you’re a family.  This is my simple way of saying please, please, please do not arrive all wearing the same thing!  Nothing screams ‘awkward family photo’ more than everyone wearing the exact same shirt and matching pants.  You know what I’m talking about:  black long sleeve shirt/blue jeans, white button down shirt/khaki pants, or any variety of matching stripe/check/Hawaiian print, etc.  Admit it, we all see those combinations showing up on the holiday cards we receive each year… am I right?

In reality, there is absolutely no reason for everyone in your family to dress exactly the same in order to get a cohesive look.  The most successful family wardrobes will have a balanced combination of neutrals, colors, patterns and textures.  How does one achieve such a look?  Follow these simple steps:

  • Choose one or two neutrals as your base.  Easy choices are black, white, cream, grey, navy, camel or tan.  A safe ratio is to have one neutral make up 60% of your color palette, the other neutral should be 40%.  If you are feeling a little more adventurous, consider eggplant, deep teal or a dark rust as one of your neutrals.

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  • Choose one or two accent colors to pop your wardrobe and provide the remaining 20% of your color palette.  Need help in deciding what colors look good together?  Look to a favorite scarf, sweater or other clothing item that already has a mix of colors that you like and then build your palette from there.

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  • Choose textures & patterns that incorporate your accent colors.  Great choices for pattern are plaid, stripes, argyle, houndstooth, floral, and polka dots.  When combining patterns, be sure to vary the scale so that the patterns don’t compete with each other.  For example, combine a large plaid with a small pinstripe or bold polka dot with a tight houndstooth.  Texture offers the same interest as patterns, but in a subtler way.  Think chunky knits, textured wool, soft velvets or shimmery silks.

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  • Finally: shoes & accessories.  Remember to dress from head-to-toe when putting a family wardrobe together.  Nothing undermines a great outfit more than worn out shoes, wrinkled clothing, or white socks peeking out under the pant cuff…

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In the end, planning the wardrobe for your family portrait should be enjoyable – not stressful!  Using these tips and example wardrobes as inspiration, you’ll be well on your way to finding the perfect clothing combination for your own family.  If you are still feeling overwhelmed, or simply want more guidance, be sure to set up an appointment with Studio B’s personal stylist for stress-free planning of your family’s wardrobe!

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