How to Style Your Family For Holiday Photos
7 Easy tips for Styling Your Family Photos
Family photos are a treasured keepsake, and you want to make sure you and your family look your best. Hopefully we can help make that a little easier for you today.
We’re so excited to have guest blogger Kristen Sellentin, Wardrobe Stylist and owner of Lovely Looking Family (a family photography styling biz), telling us all her top tips for styling family outfits for the holidays!
The holidays are officially upon us and you know what that means…holiday photos, Santa photos and Christmas card photos! This time of the year is my busiest and for good reason - everyone wants to have their family dressed perfectly for their holiday photos. So today I’m excited to be talking all about how to get your family photo ready for the holidays!
We’re going to talk about what to wear for family photos, how to select the perfect outfit for your location/background, AND how to style your family without 15 trips to mall. Many of these tips are basic guidelines for family photography styling, not just holiday photos, that I follow to ensure my clients love their outfits. I hope they help you too!
Here are my best tips for beautiful family holiday photos:
1. Start with Mom.
Unless a client has a desire to incorporate a special piece of clothing, like a vintage baby outfit or a family heirloom (and we use that piece as the starting off point), I dress Mom first. Her outfit shapes the rest of the family, and things tend to run smoother once she has picked her outfit.
We as women have a hard time shopping for ourselves and finding clothing that fits properly and makes us feel fabulous, meaning it takes longer to find the perfect outfit for Mom, and shipping times can be longer too (if it’s a preorder item). Many times, Mom’s outfit is the focal point – a stunning sequin dress, the pop of color – so building off of that is key. Once mom is set, it’s easy to add in pattern and details with the kid’s outfits.
2. Coordinate, don't duplicate.
Long gone are the days of putting everyone in matching outfits. We want to showcase each individual family member and allow their personality to shine through, and that’s one of my goals at Lovely Looking Family. I strive for a cohesive & coordinated look that compliments the entire family.
3. Choose your outfit color scheme.
I base the color scheme on a variety of factors:
Where will your photography session be held?
Will you be displaying the photos in your home?
Will you be using these for holiday cards & gifts?
Believe it or not all these answers play a part in choosing your families outfits. Choosing a color or two for your photos will make the look cohesive.
I like to stick to 2 colors, possibly three but all in the same range, for instance:
tan, brown, and cream;
or gray, white, and blush.
Keep your photoshoot location in mind because you don’t want to blend into the background. Lots of tan and khaki can get lost in an outdoor golden field.
If you are going to display the photos inside your home or use them for holidays cards & gifts, you’ll want to steer clear of colors that clash with your décor, or look overly holiday (matching Santa jammies are cute but you may not want to look at them year round!).
Don’t get me wrong, a few years ago I chose a very red dress for a traditional Christmas look and I loved it, but I don’t display these photos year-round, only during the holidays, and you can see my red dress is the “pop” of color and we kept the rest of the family in a red/black theme for a balanced look.
4. Choose the perfect fit
As a mom I know I usually buy clothing for my kids with room to grow. That’s perfectly fine for everyday but not for photography sessions. It’s better to have the kids clothes be too snug than baggy or loose.
I encourage my parents to buy clothes that fit perfectly and not size up. Baggy clothes tend to look sloppy in pictures. Same goes for Dad. You want him to feel comfortable or else he will not want to take photos again anytime soon!
5. Add interest
Mixing patterns, as well as adding layers and texture will make for more interesting pictures. I love to see how many layers I can get into photos. It’s almost like a game!
Cable knit tights for baby girl, a chunky sweater over Dad’s button up shirt, some cozy furry boots to big sisters outfit, or a shawl over Mom’s dress. The possibilities are endless and it gives so much warmth to winter-time photos. As a bonus, layers can help break up patterns or tone down colors.
This is one of my favorite winter time family photo sessions I styled (we live in Texas so no snow but it was COLD that day)
6. Shoes: yes they will be seen & make sure they look great!
Yes, shoes are just as important as the clothing, especially on kids. Parents shoes may or may not be seen depending on your session location (in a field they will probably not be seen), but no matter what shoes are important as well as socks.
You don’t want to get your photos back and be taken aback when your husbands bright white athletic socks are sticking out like a sore thumb, or your kids paw patrol sneakers (but they were mostly black, right?!) are all like “Heyyyyyy i’m here!”.
Family photos are the perfect time to buy everyone a new pair of shoes. Many stores are having major pre-black Friday sales right now.
Pick a neutral pair for everyone. Browns, tans, cream colored casual shoes with no characters, or colored shoe laces are best for boys and dads.
Boots are best for winter and holiday shoots, in my opinion. I love boots for girls as well if the location is outdoors, or a gold, silver or tan flat for indoor or out. Overly glittery or flashy shoes take away from the outfit, so keep them basic and minimal.
We don’t want the photo to be about the shoes, but if they are seen they should complement the overall look.
7. My biggest tip of all: RELAX!
Take the hunt for the perfect outfits off your to-do list and hire Lovely Looking Family!
The holidays are the busiest time for the majority of us, especially moms who are trying to shop for gifts, plan class parties, and wrap up yearend work projects.
I save you the 15 trips to the mall by doing the searching for you.
I only send you outfits that are available for purchase online and usually offer free shipping & free returns.
I also help you use clothing you already have in your closets.
Let me help plan your outfits and you treat yourself to that much needed blow out and makeup sesh.
A relaxed mom will help relax her family and make for better photos.
My favorite brands for the entire family:
Women – I adore these online boutiques because they offer unique dresses, separates, shoes & accessories.
Men: J Crew, Buckle, Zara, American Eagle, Nordstrom, Old Navy, and Gap are my favorites for everything! Even Target has nice pants, henley’s, and shoes in neutral colors & styles!
Girls: Ollie Jay dresses hands down! High quality fabric, beautiful craftsmanship and perfect for twirling in the photos! Pair them with Little Light Feet tights & socks, Mon Petite mary janes or Adelisa & Co boots, and a bow from Ellia May Designs and she’s all set!
I prefer Zara and H&M for their quality and price.
I also shop Old Navy & Target for great neutral pieces like henley’s and chinos.
If I need a unique, handmade item I like The Knotted Fern, Fin and Vince, and Rylee and Cru.
Pair with shoes from any of those stores or again, Mon Petite and Adelisa & Co (Gender Neutral options for the win!).
I truly hope my tips help give you some guidance towards making your family photos perfect!
For more tips and styling advice, you can follow Kristen online at