what to wear – fall family photos

This has been much requested and totally on my mind as both a fashion blogger and a photographer. Planning outfits for family photos can seriously be SO stressful, time consuming, and just plain annoying. I’ve got some advice for going into your own closet to find the right stuff!

photos above by me!

As a photographer here are the main pieces of advice I give clients for fall photos:

  1. layers look awesome in photos. think cardigans, jackets, vests, scarves, necklaces, etc…
  2. make sure the kiddos clothes fit! I will buy my kids clothes for photos knowing they are on the cusp of outgrowing them rather than buy a size up to get more wear. it just looks better when they fit right and aren’t baggy.
  3. be comfortable and don’t push anyone in your family too far outside their comfort zone, it will show in the photos.

With that in mind I have found the best strategy for my family is to:

  1. pick a loose color scheme. long gone are the days of super matchy photos, while that can still look good, using colors as another “layer” usually looks better. 3-5 complimentary colors is a great goal, if you use less than 3 make sure you pay attention to the other points (layers and texture), with lots of textures and layers a neutral color palette of tans, creams and grays can be gorgeous. depending on what the shoot is for (changing out photos on my living room walls? just for the Christmas card?) I may take into account my home decor and colors I want to see hanging on my walls!
  2. pick my outfit. I am the hardest one to dress so I try to start with me and I try to shop my closet first because I’ve had too many nightmare buy-and-return sessions where I’m trying to find the perfect thing and I have a vision in my head and it just never comes true. I like our photos to represent who we really are so I have no problem wearing my absolute favorite outfit that everyone has seen me in a million times. I’ll definitely do my hair and makeup really nice that day and try to look the best I can, but I do not need a new outfit.
  3. my husband is hard to buy for, he’s pretty picky on fit and really needs tall shirts so I try to also shop his closet but I do occasionally grab him a new shirt if he doesn’t have one in the color scheme I am going for and it’s always just a polo or a button-up from JCPenney’s big & tall section.
  4. the kids come last for me because they are easy to buy for. they look cute in everything and between Old Navy, Target and Carter’s I can find them what I need.
  5. as I pick out these outfits I try to do some pattern mixing. for fall I say one plaid is a great idea (I don’t recommend putting everyone in plaid, or even all the kids in plaid). I love a floral on my little girl. also think texture, a breezy scarf on mom, a chunky sweater on your little boy, some ruffles on little girl, a structured jacket or fall vest on dad.

Back to the layers thing – it really helps photos pop and I want to reiterate the different layers I am talking about:

  1. actual physical layers – cardigans, vests, scarves, etc…
  2. colors – pick 3-5 complimentary colors and “layer” them on, even different tones of the same color can add that dimensionality.
  3. pattern mixing – adds layers and visual interest to the photos, just don’t overdo it on any one pattern and avoid large expanses of busy patterns, if mom is wearing a busy floral dress, soften it with a cardigan. great patterns to mix in the fall are plaid, floral, stripes, and solids
  4. texture – this adds a lot too. chunky sweaters, ruffles, quilted vests, flowy scarves, etc…

ok, now that we have that out of the way here are some actual ideas!

NOTE: I don’t have a large enough range of outfits in my portfolio to show these ideas so I’m pulling these images from Pinterest and other talented photographers, these do not represent my photography, just outfit ideas.

This is your regular “cute” wardrobe, just carefully chosen! This is great for almost any location – farm, nature setting, downtown urban, etc…

  • layering tank (solid or patterned) + cardigan + jeans (colored or blue) + booties or boots + necklace or scarf
  • layering tank (solid or patterned) + jacket + jeans (colored or blue) + booties or boots + necklace or scarf
  • layering shirt (solid or patterned – plaid, floral, boho) + vest + jeans (colored or blue) + booties or boots + necklace or scarf
  • tunic + cardigan or jacket + leggings or jeans + boots + necklace or scarf
  • basic dress + cardigan or jacket or vest + booties or boots + necklace

A mix between dressy with some casual/edgy items added in. This works easily in a downtown urban setting, but could definitely work in a nature setting and some added props like a vintage couch take it to the next level!

  • flowy skirt + plain or graphic tee (knotted or tucked in) + booties or flats + statement necklace
  • flowy skirt + fitted top + denim or moto jacket + booties or flats + necklace
  • flowy skirt + tied-up button-up shirt + denim or moto jacket + booties or flats + necklace
  • dress (boho or patterned) + moto jacket + booties + necklace or scarf
  • layering tank + velvet kimono + jeans + booties + necklace

“Fancy” without being stuffy. Urban settings are a easy choice, but nature can be beautiful too as a contrast to your outfits. This can range from “fancy” to full on formal.

  • flowy skirt + lace top + booties or heels + necklace
  • dress (more formal/fitted with fun details) + booties or heels
  • wide leg dressy trousers + fitted tucked in shirt + booties or heels + statement necklace

I hope these outfit formulas help you plan your families fall photoshoot outfits!

7 thoughts on “what to wear – fall family photos”

  1. Great ideas for family photos! I have a question that doesn’t really have anything to do with your post but I’m just curious. If you had to choose one pair of jeans, what would you choose? I’m a mom of 2 also and have the hardest time finding jeans that fit well (I’m 5’6” and weigh approximately 160) and look stylish. I need something budget friendly also. Thanks!!!

    1. tinainreallife

      One pair of jeans… Hmmm.. Well as much as I HATED skinny jeans when they came out they now make up the majority of my wardrobe, haha! I am also the same height and weight as you! Most of my jeans are Old Navy, American Eagle and Wit & Wisdom (Nordstrom brand). My favorites the last 6 or so months and the ones I reach for the most are American Eagle high-rise jeggings, they aren’t cheap when they’re full price but they go on sale regularly and I like them more/they last better than my Old Navy jeans.

  2. Love this! If u can wear this in the Vegas heat , then South Florida will Work too!!!

    1. tinainreallife

      I wrote this last fall when I lived in Northern Indiana but I think I’d still wear about the same for photos in Vegas 🙂

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