• Mary Ann Graves

A Little Style Goes A Long Way

You booked your photography session with your favorite photographer(hopefully I am living up to that standard!! haha). Now you are stumped on what to wear! I have been down this path and even after 10 years of getting pictures taken, I still have to take the time to coordinate everyone's outfit! It takes some effort but once you have an idea of where to start, it will make the process so much easier.

I want to share a few of those ideas in this post to help make your portraits an enjoyable and memorable time!

First thing that everyone should ALWAYS remember: You can NEVER be too dressed up! Putting on your fancies will always translate well in pictures. It will create a timeless & elegant photograph that you will be proud to hang on your wall. It will also elevate how you feel about yourself in pictures. Can I be honest?? Most of us are pretty self conscience when it comes to looking at ourselves in a photograph. The truth is, we are ALL beautiful and are created in God's image! We should be dressing our bodies like we are confident and know our worth. Putting on a beautiful dress or suit will boost your confidence and make your inner beauty shine even more through photos. I promise, how you feel about yourself will come through on a photograph. I look back at several sessions from my family and remember exactly what I was feeling that day & how I felt about myself. I wish I would have known then what I know now. I have promised my photographers, our family will be dressed to impress!

I want to share a story about how dressing up changes the way you feel about yourself. I worked at a school a few years ago. One day, I walked into the office and one of the administration staff was dressed like she was going to a wedding. She looked BEAUTIFUL!! I asked what was the special occasion thinking I missed an announcement. She smiled and said that she woke up feeling very sick but had to come to work. She put on her nicest dress, did her make up and hair bc she knew that would make her instantly feel better and able to get through the day. That has stuck with me all these years. Never underestimate what a gorgeous outfit will do for you self confidence and mood!


Styling Tips:


Classic & Timeless: a classic & traditional outfit choice will always present itself in photographs as being timeless. I would avoid picking "trendy" styles or styles that will be outdated in a few months, even years. You never want to look back on your pictures and say, "what was I thinking wearing that outfit!? Why didn't someone stop me!!??" When I think of timeless, I think of people like Audrey Hepburn, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Grace Kelly. All beautiful woman with a beautiful style that can still be worn today! Men think of your sports team. When they are going to and from a game, they are most always in a timeless suit or sports coat. Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin also come to mind of men that knew how to dress sharp. You can always add a piece of character and color in many other ways through your accessory choices!


Woman: This is the perfect time to get your hair and make up done. This service has become very affordable through your local salon. Take the time to get a manicure and pedicure! I give you permission to feel like the Queen you are & take some time to refresh your soul by being pampered!!

I also want to take the time to encourage you to pull out that favorite dress or skirt! Have you always wanted to wear a long tulle shirt with a beautiful blouse? Do it! Do you need a reason to pull out those Jimmy Choo's!? This is the occasion! Again, I want to encourage you, you can NEVER be too overdressed!

Men: Pull out your suit or sports coat and shine your wingtips!! What a perfect way to impress and send your woman into heart eyes land! Trust me....a man in a suit is......on another level. Visit your local barber or hair dresser a few days before to have your hair cut. Be sure to not forget your beard or mustache and even throw in a manicure! They need a little love as well.


Matchy Matchy: While it may be tempting to dress every person in the same outfit/color, it does not add any depth or character to your photographs. Instead, I highly recommend you coordinate your outfits. Start with one family member's outfit of a neutral or soft tone and base everyone else's outfit on that color pattern. I typically first pick what my daughter will wear (bc let's face it, her wardrobe will always be the best in the families :-)) and choose all our outfits based on that color palette. Colors and outfits should compliment each other and not compete or look out of place.


Textures, Layers and Patterns: Textures and layers add so much to a photograph! Based on the season you are having photographs done, pick layers and textures accordingly. In the fall and winter, do not be afraid to have a beautiful scarf, lace shawl or hat (not ball cap). Do not be afraid to put different textures together in an outfit as well. Crochet, tweed, leather, etc can be mixed together and add depth to a photo. And of course, be sure to accessorize with necklaces, earrings, & bracelets!! It draws your attention up to the face where the focus should be!! Patterns can be used; however, I caution on using huge, distracting patterns that take away from the beautiful faces in the photograph.


Background/Seasons: Dress for your background and season. For example, if you are having pictures taken in the fall, do not wear the same colors as the leaves. If you are going to a very green park in the summer, avoid wearing a lot of green as you will not stand out in the picture. If it is a holiday themed session - definitely dress for that holiday to make is more fun and exciting! A pink floral bubble on a little girl is not going to translate well at Christmas time! So keep in mind where and when you are having your session. Talk with your photographer if you are unsure of the surroundings at your photo shoot!!


Shoes: While it can be tempting to put on your trusted tennis shoes or flip flops, this is not the time you really want to be sporting those particular shoes. You will want your feet to look as good as the rest of your outfit! The only time I feel tennis shoes are ok is when wearing a good pair of Converse that go with the outfit. Again, using my daughter as an example, she has some adorable, dressy outfits that actually look amazing with a pair of colored Converse shoes!! Other than that, leave casual, beat up shoes at home waiting for your return. If you want to put some pop or character in your style, definitely add some fun socks! I know this is all the rage now with guys so go with it!


Most importantly: Be comfortable!!! There are plenty of clothing options that allow you to dress up, dress your style and be comfortable. If you are too stiff bc you choose an outfit that you are not comfortable in or with, it will show through the photographs. I love soft and flowy materials such as tulle, lace, etc. It is so comfortable and photographs so beautifully! When dressing your kids, let them be apart of the process. They will more likely cooperate and have fun during the session when they have had a say so in their outfit. They will also be more comfortable to move around and play!


What to Avoid:

*Logos, graphics, characters, labels, etc. While Polos are great for your summer get together, you really do not want Ralph Lauren to take center stage in your pictures! We all want the focus to be on you!!

*Bright white socks, shirts or shoes. It is a distraction and will wash your color out.

*Avoid matchy matchy. Everyone in Khaki/Jeans and white shirts are not the way to go!

*Tennis Shoes & Flip Flops

*Accessories that do not fit with the overall theme of your outfit choice

*While I do suggest staying fashionable, do avoid anything that is "trendy" or "in style" for this particular moment. That style will be just that...only in style for a moment. Do not regret your outfit choice in a few months or years!

*Be so uncomfortable you are miserable!



I hope this helps create a memorable styling experience for you and your family! Once you have a starting point, everything else will fall into place! I look forward to hearing from you and hopefully photographing your gorgeous family!!


Comment below with a tip you have found that works for picking out outfits!







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