The most common question I'm asked within minutes of clients booking their family photoshoot is "BUT, WHAT DO WE WEAR???"
After years of extensively styling clients, as well as experiencing the client perspective with photoshoots for my own family, I have gathered a lot of really useful tips to ensure you look and feel your best for your family pictures. It can seem overwhelming to try to achieve the look that you may love in the pictures you see of others, but hopefully after reading this post you will realize that family styling is really quite formulaic, and if you simply follow the formula you will end up looking great!
This guide is specifically geared towards moms. As a mom, I also completely understand how you feel. You very likely haven't gotten in front of the camera very much since...maybe your wedding day? Maybe you have a few pounds you'd love to lose, maybe your hair and makeup routine is but a distant memory, and maybe you walk by the mirror and do a double take because...who is that? If this sounds like you, I understand! You have gone through a lot of changes having a baby, or maybe a few babies, and your beauty routine has probably not had time to catch up. But I applaud you for still wanting to get in the pictures, because you AND your babies deserve to have you be there! I will offer styling guidance specifically geared towards people like you to ensure that you look your best. We will minimize the things you don't love about yourself, and highlight what you do. Because let's be honest, no matter how beautiful the moment is that we capture, if we hate the way we look we probably aren't going to love the picture!
Or maybe you look fabulous, and if that's the case...you can stop reading, and just give me your secrets! :)
Yes, I'm talking to you. And although this probably never happens any other time in your life, we are taking care of you first. Why? Well, truthfully you will be the most challenging AND you have the most amount of options. If you are like myself, and most of the moms I photograph, you don't get in the picture too often. Maybe you do it once a year for professional pictures, or maybe this is the first time you've been professionally photographed since your wedding. But either way, us moms often put ourselves (and our appearance) last. Perhaps one, or all, of the following thoughts have crossed your mind when looking in a mirror or at a picture of yourself: I look so old, I look so tired, I need to lose ten pounds, I need to lose a lot more than ten pounds, NOTHING looks good on me, I don't even recognize myself since having kids...or if you're like me, you just think "WHO IS THAT PERSON AND WHERE DID SHE COME FROM?"
OK...so I get it and you are not alone in those thoughts. First of all, give yourself a little grace. There is no other time that a human body changes as much as a mother's does, and there is no other time that society would expect a person who had gone through that amount of change to just adapt so easily. You may not look like you did when you were 20...you may think you look better, you may think you look worse, but whatever it is you probably look different. This is you now, so let's embrace her. If you lose that last ten pounds next year, great. But right now it's there, so let's make it look as amazing as we can.
Now that I've given you my pep talk slash I-know-where-you're-coming-from slash tough love talk, let's talk about how we can dress the person you are today to look your absolute best. Here's a few pointers.
1. Dress yourself first (and early)
This is my biggest piece of advice that sadly, many clients don't follow. I know it is SO tempting to find a cute outfit for your kids, or so easy to pick something out for your husband, and to then try to work around those pieces. But trust me...you will end up feeling frazzled, defeated, and frustrated. Because I guarantee you'll end up finding something you love, or fits amazing, but it won't match. And you'll force yourself into something you don't feel great in just to complete the outfits in time for your session.
Please do yourself a favor, and pick your outfit out first. Fit is most important, but also find a color and/or print that you love. Once you find THE piece, you know that your husband and kids will be easy to put together afterwards...because let's face it, men are easy and kids look good in anything! Go shopping early to ensure you have time to plan everybody else. Even better, find a place with free shipping/returns and have a fashion show at home!
2. Embrace the maxi!
I can't express how much I recommend a long dress for pictures. Not only do they photograph beautifully (hello, movement!), but they are comfortable, allow you to bend over and chase your kids without worrying, and are incredibly flattering on just about any woman's body. Look for an empire waist, a flowy and loose-fitting fabric, and a design that skims your body but doesn't cling. Look for a style that shows off the features you like, and conceals those that you don't. Off the shoulder styles or wrap dresses are quite popular.
My favorite places to find them: ViciCollection.com, Forever 21 (surprising, I know!), Morning Lavender Boutique, Hazel and Olive Boutique, H&M, Free People, Anthropologie and ASOS. Amazon also has some great options .If you opt for a shorter dress or pants instead, still keep the things discussed above in mind. You will be bending over, sitting, and chasing your kids around. Make sure the outfit you choose will move with you without having to be adjusted, and will highlight what you love and conceal what you don't. Skinny jeans with a loose fitting blouse, a swingy dress or skirt, or even a romper are all adorable options that look great too!
Coordinate but don't match. For spring and summer, stick to soft pastels or neutrals. Choose various shades of the same color color scheme, and go to town! Another reason I am a big fan of floral prints for Mom is it gives you a lot of colors to pull from for your family. Consider the colors your family looks good in, the color scheme in your home for prints, and just the colors you love to look at!
I usually recommend putting one family member in a pattern. Personally, I love using the pattern on Mom because there are so many beautiful options out there for women's dresses (where men's patterns are more limited). Florals are particularly nice, because it will give you a lot of tones to easily match for the rest of the family. Patterns can also be very flattering, as long as the pattern isn't too large or worn tightly.
You can incorporate a second pattern if you'd like, as long as it is very subtle and ideally a different print. For example, if Mom is in a floral dress you can put one of the children in a very subtle plaid or polka dot.
THE "X" RULE
Move your matching colors around so they are not worn on the same body parts of your family members. If your coordinating or matching colors are zig-zagged (like an X) from each other when posed instead of blocked next to each other it looks much better. Ultimately, when you're all standing together, your goal is to have similar colors spread out for visual interest!