closeup focus photo of a child's feet wearing a shoes in the mud with white little flowers around it outdoor

What To Wear For Your Portrait Session

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“Do have a think about what you’re wearing in advance. Without too much preparation we managed to roughly coordinate, which really helped the shots. A bit of pre-thought on that part really helps.” Jessica

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What to wear for your portrait session?

Whatever makes you feel good is the easy answer!

In a nutshell:

  • The best advice is to choose clothes that you feel comfortable in, and that are simple and neutral as possible.
  • Choose clothes without an illustration, text or logo on.
  • For adults, one plain colour is best – although bear in mind that plain black or white clothes don’t photograph that well.
  • Mums, choose clothes with a bit of texture for the most flattering effect.
  • For children, stripes or spots are ok, but they can be a bit distracting if the colours are bold. If you’d rather have something vibrant, go for it!
  • You can also change outfits partway through the session if you’d like – when we head outdoors can be a great time to do this. Bear in mind your child’s willingness to change clothes, though – if your baby really doesn’t like being changed, it’s better to minimise the number of outfit changes.
  • Take your watches off beforehand, to give skin a chance to relax and any watch marks to disappear. Watches can be quite distracting in close-ups of you holding your baby. The same goes for hairbands on wrists.

I’m very happy to offer advice based on my experience – if you have a selection of clothes ready, I can recommend which will work best.

Below are some more detailed suggestions. Nothing’s cast in stone, so if something doesn’t feel right for you and your family, by all means ignore it and do your own thing!

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what-to-wear-pregnancy
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what-to-wear-babies
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what-to-wear-girls
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Colour choices

If we’re taking a group shot and you’re all wearing the same colour, it’ll look a bit staged – a mix of colours can look more natural.

Bear in mind that if one of you is wearing a bright colour, the viewer’s eye will be drawn straight to that outfit in a photograph – I recommend that if anyone’s wearing a bright colour, it’s your child! Otherwise try to keep to more neutral colours – or to all be wearing something quite bright and eye-catching.

Bright autumn leaves with a child wearing a yellow cardigan

Blues, whites and denim can be a good colour combination:

playful mum and her adorable daughter playing in the garden full of flowers in Peckham Rye

Different shades and patterns with the same colour can work well, and is a great option if your family shares a similar colour palette of clothes:

sweet brother and sister holding hands in a garden bench from a family portrait session in Earlsfield southwest London

Here’s an example where a family gave a nod to soft, gentle colours:

Closeup family photo with their adorable baby carried by mum looking at the camera

Outdoor clothing

Wearing bright colours can bring a pop of colour to the portraits, especially if it’s a grey day.

Brightly coloured wellies, scarves or jackets can work wonders to brighten our British weather!

Mums, leave your enormous coat at home – try to choose one that’s not too bulky as they’re not very flattering in photographs.

Back view of mum holding daughter walking in the pathway outdoor
natural beautifl family portrait with their two children while walking in the bridge on a sunny day from family portrait session in London
jumping in a muddy puddle with bright red welly boots
Close-up of adorable baby boy smiling on field wearing a yellow jacket and knitted bonnet.

Try to each wear a coat with a similar thickness – it can look a bit odd if one parent has a lightweight jacket and the other’s in a thick quilted coat, or if one parent doesn’t wear a coat at all when the other’s all wrapped up:

baby photographer Barnes Bridge - family group shot

Umbrellas can be lots of fun for portrait sessions – choose one with a pale colour (black umbrellas will cast dark shadows on your faces) and ideally without any text on it:

closeup photo of three siblings holding an umbrella while looking at the camera

Clothing tips for dads

A plain cotton shirt (avoid choosing one that’s too much like office-wear) or a polo shirt with chinos or jeans is a great combination. Bear in mind that white shirts can look very formal, so a pale or muted colour tends to work best.

Avoid text or graphics on your clothes.

If you’re conscious of carrying a little extra weight, avoid tops that are too fitted – a thick T-shirt or shirt works well.

Lightweight cotton T-shirts don’t photograph well – if it’s a hot day, you’re better off in a polo shirt.

Shorts are also best avoided unless it’s a scorching day, as they can be quite distracting in photographs and affect where a photograph can be cropped.

Think All Saints or Ralph Lauren.

Proud father happily looking to his young adorable son
Clothing tips for mums

Choose clothes with texture, and layering up works really well too.

A simple top (just avoid plain black or plain white, unless the fabric is textured) and jeans or casual trousers work well.

I suggest avoiding sleeveless tops (especially if you have a baby and might throw them up in the air), and tops that will expose your bra straps.

Shorts and ripped jeans are best avoided as knees can become distracting and can affect the crop of a photograph.

Have something to tie your hair back (or clip your fringe) in case it’s a windy day.

Think Hush, Toast, Baukjen or Me+Em.

Mum cutting into a delicious flapjack while dad and the son is staring on it and the daughter is smiling in the table

Bear in mind that solid black can be quite intense in a photograph. If, like me, you wear a lot of black, pick something out that has texture and layers.

Parents-to-be: what to wear

To best show off your bump, choose a snug top that clings to the contours of your bump.

An open shirt also works well if you’d like a photograph of your skin but would prefer to keep your top on.

If you’d like a photograph in your underwear or nude, I’m very happy to take those too. Choose simple and soft underwear that doesn’t dig in.

Think Seraphine or JoJo Maman Bebe.

If I’m taking photographs of both of you, and Dad has also put on some sympathy pregnancy weight, gently suggest something that’s not totally skin tight! A cotton shirt works well. See the section on ‘Tips for dads’ for more suggestions.

Maternity-portrait-outdoors-London
New mums

If you’re conscious of carrying baby weight, a loose fitting cotton top works well, or a shirt. Texture and layers are your friends!

closeup photo of sleeping newborn baby lying in mum's open arms

Many new mums are not yet wearing their rings again yet – if you usually wear an engagement or wedding ring, don’t worry if they don’t fit yet, that’s part of the story! If it’s borderline, though, it’s worth giving the rings a try as you might miss having them in close-up shots where your baby is holding your fingers:

Newborns

Have a few changes of clothes to hand as your baby’s unlikely to make it through the whole session in the same outfit!

Plain white or pale babygros or vests work really well – the simpler, the better really.

Baby Mori and Superlove Merino have some great options for simple babysuits, or Newbie have some pretty patterned options.

A babygro without feet works really well for photographing their tiny toes.

Collars can often flap open and cover a bit of your baby’s face so it’s best to avoid them.

If you have any special outfits (a cardigan knitted by Granny, for example), we can also incorporate those.

If your newborn likes being swaddled, we can absolutely do that.

And if you’d like any photographs where your baby’s not wearing anything (other than their nappy!) just let me know. It does make for adorable photographs.

newborn baby wearing a striped top
newborn baby under a blanket

Avoid graphics or illustrations, as these really affect where a photograph can be cropped. A repeating pattern doesn’t matter as much, but a big animal can be quite distracting.

illustration on babys babgro

Newborn outfits can look cute, but bear in mind that part of what we’re capturing is that special newborn phase. Dressing them in trousers and shirts or dresses doesn’t emphasise their newness as well as a babygro does!

adorable newborn baby lying on a bed wearing a white dress
Babies – what to wear

Even if your baby is already wearing clothes, consider onesies as part of the mix – they really show how young and tiny your baby still is!

For day clothes, choose simple clothes with plain colours – and ideally not too fitted if your baby is in nappies, or the clothes will bunch around the nappy. Pure Baby have some great options.

If your baby’s wearing a dress, it’s great if it has a matching nappy cover.

A cute playsuit or romper can be a better option, as then we can relax completely about nappies – they won’t show! Check out Pure Baby, Mori, Newbie or Marie Chantal.

Check that the outfits you’ve chosen still fit your baby. It’s amazing how quickly they grow, or how something you imagine will fit actually balloons around them. With dungarees, it’s much better to have a slightly too tight pair than slightly too big.

closeup photo of an adorable smiling baby looking at the camera
baby wearing a onesie
closeup photo of an adorable blue-eyed baby biting his lips while sitting on a floral soft chair
Siblings

Choose similar colours for siblings. If one child’s wearing a bright colour, your eye will go straight to that child in a photograph.

two brothers climbing on a tree
Twin babies wearing dungarees

Please resist the urge to put siblings in T-shirts with “sibling text” on them. Writing doesn’t work well in portraits – if a child leans over, you’ll only be able to see part of the word. What would otherwise have been a beautiful photograph becomes distracting because the word is partly hidden. You don’t need to spell out the relationship between siblings with their clothing – let the camera show their relationship instead!

Older brother kissing his newborn brother while on bed
Little girls: what to wear

If you choose a dress, do have some trousers or leggings ready too. If your daughter’s in nappies and feels like sitting down, dresses can show more nappy than intended so it’s handy to have an alternative.

With tights, coloured ones are best for outdoors, as muddy knees really show up on white tights.

Choose clothes that your daughter likes wearing – if she’s a little tom boy, go with that!

At the risk of repeating myself, it’s best to avoid any illustrations or text on the outfits – a gentle pattern is ok, but simple and neutral clothes work best.

Have some clips to hand in case your daughter’s hair has a wild day and you want to tame it a little!

Think Boden, John Lewis or The White Company. For something smarter, try Rachel Riley.

sister and brother laughing while lying in bed and looking at the camera
closeup photo of a cheerful young girl holding onto her parents while walking
Little boys: clothing suggestions

Avoid clothes that have a big graphic on the front like a dinosaur or tractor.

Stripes, checks and spots are ok but if you can avoid them, so much the better!

The aim is for the clothes to not be distracting in the photographs – we want all attention on your little one.

Jeans or chinos work really well, and this is definitely the moment for those cute little trainers.

Think Trotters, John Lewis or Crew Clothing. Rachel Riley is good for more formal options.

closeup photo of a young boy cheerfully looking at the camera while standing in between two tree trunks in bishops park
closeup photo of a brown-eyed boy toddler looking at the camera
natural photo of a young boy standing on the pathway in Peckham Rye Park & Common

If your child loves dressing up in a particular outfit, we can absolutely incorporate that into the photographs!

The more your child enjoys the experience, the more their character will come through.

If getting your child out of a fancy dress outfit can be a challenge, I’d suggest starting the session in “normal” clothes, and getting the fancy dress clothes out partway through.

Fancy dress
beautiful young girl wearing a blue dress sitting and looking above at the camera

“Our children look so beautiful in the photos playing with their favourite toys – there is an amazing one of my little daughter dressed like Cinderella on a colourful carpet, it looks so magical.” Irena

Young talented daughter showing off her dancing skill on the dance floor
What to expect