Style Guide for Family Portraits | Des Moines Iowa Portrait Photography


One of the questions I get asked a lot is what to wear! Its actually a lot more important than you might think. While I want you to be the main focus of your portraits, wearing the wrong outfits might take the focus away from you!  This particular blog post is specifically for family and lifestyle portraits. I will give you a few guidelines and some tips on how to make your family look sharp as a tack while still keeping your own personal style!

Style Tips for Her:

Have you thought about rocking a romantic gown, tulle skirt or flower crown but have never had the occasion? This is your chance to do it! There is no such thing as “too dressed up” for your portrait session, so don’t be afraid to have a little fun! I think skirts and dresses look so flattering on all female bodies and they especially look beautiful on camera.  When picking out a skirt or dress I recommend something a bit longer if you have small children. You will be bending over and playing with them and you dont want to worry about fussing with a shorter skirt.  Not a dress or skirt kinda gal? No worries! Wear colored pants or a darker wash jean and make sure your top is dressy! If its a cooler season, layering with a cardigan is another great way to dress up jeans or pants! For the feet, wear heels or flats. If you do wear heels (which do elongate the legs) Bring a pair of flip flops to switch into when walking around. 🙂

Colors are going to depend on your personal style and possibly the time of year. For Spring and Summer I recommend brighter colors like whites, bright neutrals, sky blues, pinks.  For Autumn and Winter I love the darker richer colors like deep hunter greens, blacks, darker browns and tans, and burgundy.

Go ahead and play with textures and patterns!!! Lace, floral prints and pleated skirts always look so nice in photos! Just make sure if you have a pattern don’t put everyone else in one, or make sure its different. For example if you have a large floral print blouse, don’t put your daughter in the same, have her outfit be a solid color or have a small simple pattern.

Make sure to accessorize with necklaces, earrings, bracelets, a watch. These simple details will really pull your look together and make you look polished!  Do make sure your nails are clean and free of any chipped nail polish, or have a fresh coat or manicure applied.

Style Tips for Him:

Long, fitted pants and closed-toed shoes are the most sophisticated and masculine looks for men. They draw attention away from his legs and feet and place it where you want it: on his handsome face. So, for your session, it’s best to leave the shorts, sandals and jeans (unless dark wash paired with dress shirt) at home, too, as well as any pants that are loose or baggy. Fitted dress pants or fitted colored pants work best on camera. Solid shades of gray, navy or browns are a strong compliment to most women’s outfits. We also recommend staying away from graphics and logos.  Layers always add an extra pop and look great on men!

For guys, its easy to mix and match suites and jackets with jeans or khakis or colored pants! I personally love the way this looks! For the warmer months, a dress suite with a vest will help keep a layered look without the extra heat of a jacket.

Style Tips for Kids:

If you have multiple children, don’t feel like you need to put them all in the same type of outfit. For example, one of your daughters could wear a dress and flats, while the other wears a skirt and boots. One of your sons could wear a bowtie, while the other one wears suspenders. Mixing up the wardrobe pieces will bring a great visual interest to the photos.

As you’re coordinating your outfit with your family, keep in mind that your outfits will look the most cohesive on camera when the color palette and wardrobe pieces coordinate, but don’t actually match.” In fact, I recommend that you avoid thinking about matching,” and instead think about what fits” together. This will create more visual interest, and allow each personality to shine through.

I hope this guide helps you in finding the perfect style for your family portraits!!!

Outfit photos taken from pinterest.

Check out my different boards for more style inspiration here!


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  1. LOVE this Kirstie! Great article and advice.

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I'm Kirstie! Living in Des Moines Iowa with my hubby Todd, our son James and two dachshunds! I'm a Coffee addict and Reality TV junkie.  Working with women owned business owners is my passion and I can't wait to make some magic with you! 

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