How to Plan Outfits for Your Family Photos this Fall

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It’s that time of year when photographers are booked–shooting three, four, sometimes five shoots in one day. If you live in a state with seasons, the green leaves are most likely fading into shades of crimson, persimmon, and gold and the air has a bit of bite to it. You may have scheduled family pictures, but now it is the week of and you have absolutely no idea what to wear. You try on outfit after outfit and all of a sudden decide that you don’t like any of your clothes, your hair needs cut, and the thought of putting together a cohesive group of outfits feels more daunting than climbing Everest. Yeah, I’ve been there, too. 

Here’s what I learned when planning for our family photo shoot this fall:

Consider the Weather 

We had our photos taken in late October in the Midwest. It was surprisingly warm and sunny that day and we probably could have worn shorts and a sundress, but I wanted our outfits to somewhat match the season. So, I opted for light-weight, breathable fabrics like linen and organic cotton that were suitable for fall but wouldn’t leave us sweltering. If you are in a similar situation as we were, flowy dresses and heeled sandals or boots work well for women, lightweight sweaters and jeans work well for men, and overalls or pinafores layered with long-sleeved tees work well for little ones. 

Choose Clothes that Make You Feel Your Best

We actually chose our outfits about an hour before our family pictures, which I highly, highly do not recommend. Because we were in such a time crunch, I started by picking four or five of my favorite outfits that made me feel the most confident. Then, I thought through whether I had all of the accessories I needed for that particular outfit and narrowed it down a little more. Then, I set out a few of my husband’s favorite tops and pants along with some of my favorite outfits for Lincoln.

Consider Silhouettes

You know your body best, so think about the silhouettes and shapes that look best on you. I, for example, tend to look better in necklines with a slight v as opposed to high-neck or rounded necklines. I’m also relatively petite, so if I’m wearing something that is fitted on the top, I like to wear a more flowy or wide-legged pant or vise versa. I chose to wear a flowy dress that had more structure to the bodice but that flowed from there. Because Lincoln wore a loose pair of handmade overalls, I chose a fitted sweater to go underneath. 

Choose a Color Palette

So some people start with a color palette when planning family photo outfits, but I didn’t consider it until after the first few steps. We don’t own a ton of clothes, so once I finished considering the above steps, we were left with only a few options. I decided to go with a mix of browns, blues, greys, and tans for our photos–I wore a handmade blue linen dress with brown MIA Sofia clogs, Lincoln wore tan overalls with a grey-striped pullover, and Carson wore a deep navy pullover with khakis and grey shoes. My family tends to look best in neutrals and blues, but this could differ depending on your family’s preferences and skin undertones.

Layer in Patterns and Texture

We went with a lot of solids for our family photos–they are simple, classic, and keep the focus on the subjects as opposed to their clothing. However, we wanted to add in a little bit of texture. I chose a simple, striped sweater to go under Lincoln’s overalls. It is made from a soft, organic slub that has a beautiful texture when viewed up close. I actually sell this shirt in my handmade shop, Elsie James Clothing in sizes NB-5T. We also chose a mix of fabrics like linen and organic cotton to add variety in texture. If you’re having pictures taken during the winter, you can add lots of texture with cozy sweaters, cardigans, and leather boots (Nisolo has my favorite boots!), and subtle patterns with your shirts, dresses, or accessories. 

Add Jewelry and Accessories to Show Your Personality

I prefer really minimal jewelry, so I decided to wear some of my favorite pieces from Monica Vinader and Made by Mary. I wore a gold choker necklace from MV–a company that sustainably sources their jewelry from recycled gold, and my November birth flower necklace from Made by Mary which I got before my son was born. I also wore this ear cuff from MV with some simple gold hoops and a bracelet that used to below to my great-grandma. In the past, I would occasionally buy cheap jewelry that would only last a season, but recently I have been saving up for beautiful, high-quality, handcrafted pieces that have special meaning to me and that I can hopefully pass down to future children or grandchildren.

Here is a code for 20% off any full-priced item from Monica Vinader:  US20RAFINSIDER-CE48

Account for The Time of Day

If you have a little one like we do, chances are that your pictures will fall right in the middle of a mealtime or naptime or bedtime. The day of our pictures, we put our son down for a later nap so that he would be well-rested when we had the photos taken. We also got him one of his favorite meals before pictures and talked with him about what we were going to do. He cried the entire hour when we had his newborn photos taken, and I realized later that it was because he was probably hungry or tired. The pictures went really smoothly this time because we made some adjustments to our daily schedule so that he would feel his best during picture time! I know that even if you do everything right, little ones can still have a tough time getting their pictures taken. So try to embrace the moment and trust that your photographer can get some good shots despite the circumstances. 

Smile & Relax – You Look Amazing!

Part of your photographer’s job is to know how to operate their camera and edit photos, but another equally important part of their job is to do their best to make you feel comfortable and relaxed in front of the camera. One of my side jobs is photographing families and individuals, and I can promise you–a lot of people say that they aren’t very photogenic, but I can promise you that they are. You are beautiful. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Try to smile and relax and trust your photographer and breathe a sigh of relief that you took the time to plan outfits that are perfect for this occasion. 

Do you have family photos coming up? What are some of your concerns or fears leading up to the photo shoot? I hope that the above steps are helpful as you plan and prepare to capture those special moments with your loved ones. 


Use code to save 20% at Monica Vinader: US20RAFINSIDER-CE48



All photos taken by Katie Atteberry Photography.

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