Clothing Tips for Family Portraits and Headshots

Take a look at the family portraits in this slide gallery. They might help your family make some clothing choices for your family portraits.

Of course, clothing is very subjective, and you need to please yourself, however, I’ve offered some suggestions for your consideration.

Keep Your Group Clothing Consistent

Casual or Formal?  Either everyone is casual, or everyone is formal.

Light, Mid Tone or Dark?
You can wear light tops, mid tone tops or dark, but try and have everyone do the same or something very similar.

A mixture of light and dark can be confusing!  Maybe it would help if all tops were dark and all bottoms were light or vice versa.

You can wear light pants/skirt, mid tone pants or dark, light jeans or dark jeans, but try and have everyone do the same.

For example, most people agree it’s distracting when someone in the group is wearing a black shirt and white pants, someone else is wearing a white shirt and black pants.

Clothes with bold patterns, bold colors, big contrasts from light to dark, generally should be avoided. Most viewers will find the below clothing very distracting.


family portrait clothing ideas

Distracting Clothing Colors and Values

Some like the look of all white, mid tone or dark shirts/blouses, other folks may not be huge fans.

If you are not a fan, than consider instead just wearing similar values.

clothing tips for portraits, headshots and group portraits

Similar color/values clothing is easy on the eyes and keeps focus on what’s important

If you choose light tops, one person’s could be tinted with yellow, another tinted in green or purple etc.. as long as they are all light in value it will probably look great!

clothing tips for portraits, headshots and group portraits

Similar pastel tints in light/midtone can be pleasing


When planning clothing for group portraits, coordination and careful selection of outfits can greatly enhance the overall look of the photo. Here are some tips to ensure the group looks cohesive and well-dressed:

1. Color Coordination

  • Choose a Color Palette: Select a few complementary colors and neutrals that work well together. Avoid everyone wearing the same color; instead, mix and match within the palette.
  • Seasonal Colors: Consider the season and the setting. For instance, pastels in spring, bright colors in summer, earth tones in fall, and jewel tones in winter.
  • Avoid Loud Patterns: Solid colors generally work best. If someone wants to wear patterns, keep them subtle and ensure they don’t clash with others.

family and group portrait clothing TIPS

2. Style Consistency

  • Formality Level: Decide on a level of formality and ensure everyone adheres to it, whether it’s casual, semi-formal, or formal.
  • Dress Code: Provide specific guidelines, like jeans and white shirts for a casual look, or dresses and slacks for a more polished appearance.

family and group portrait clothing tips

3. Fit and Comfort

  • Proper Fit: Ensure everyone’s clothing fits well and is comfortable. Baggy or too-tight clothes can be unflattering and uncomfortable, making people look uneasy.
  • Season-Appropriate: Dress appropriately for the weather to avoid discomfort (e.g., avoid heavy fabrics in summer).

4. Details and Accessories

  • Minimal Accessories: Keep accessories minimal to avoid distractions. Coordinated accessories (like matching scarves or similar jewelry) can add a nice touch.
  • Shoes: Don’t forget about shoes; they should complement the outfits and be appropriate for the setting.

5. Avoid Certain Elements

  • Logos and Graphics: Steer clear of clothing with large logos or graphics, as they can be distracting.
  • Overly Trendy Items: Classic and timeless pieces generally photograph better than overly trendy items that may look dated quickly.

6. Individual Personality

  • Individuality: Allow each person to express their personality within the chosen color palette and style guidelines. This helps everyone feel comfortable and look natural.
  • Layers and Textures: Incorporate layers and different textures to add depth and interest without overwhelming the photo.

7. Location and Background Considerations

  • Match the Setting: Ensure the clothing matches the location’s vibe (e.g., beach, park, urban setting).
  • Background Contrast: Choose colors that contrast well with the background to ensure the subjects stand out.

8. Communication and Planning

  • Advance Planning: Discuss and plan outfits well in advance to give everyone time to coordinate and purchase any needed items.
  • Share Examples: Sharing photos or mood boards with the group can help everyone visualize the look you’re aiming for.

9. Trial Run

  • Test Photos: If possible, take some test photos to see how the outfits look together and make any necessary adjustments.

By following these tips, you can ensure your group portrait is visually appealing and everyone looks their best.