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How to Wear Patterns in Family Photographs

When choosing your outfits for family photographs, we always suggest families incorporate some pattern. It helps to add interest in your outfits and break up all of the solid colours.

Side note: We know you put everyone in white shirts and jeans because you don’t want to get it wrong, but doing that means you look like either (a) you’re at a corporate retreat and in the company uniform, or (b) you just joined a cult. Moving on….

Incorporating patterns may seem overwhelming at first but it’s actually the easiest way to choose outfits for your family. Choosing a pattern you love at the start gives you a great jumping off place for outfits for the rest of your family.

How to Wear Patterns in Family Photographs

I always start by choosing a pattern for one member of the family. If your kids are under the age of 12 this is fairly easy as there are always lots of great patterned clothes for kids—think floral or geometric prints for girls, or plaid or stripes for boys. Other options include a floral for you or a checked shirt for dad.

Once you’ve chosen the patterned piece of clothing, pull the outfit colours for the other members of your family from that pattern. I like to go with one colour and one neutral from the pattern to keep it simple enough for my neutral-loving self.

In this example, I’ve chosen a plaid linen shirt for dad. I would likely go with dark grey jeans and a light grey shirt for me. The burgundy can be incorporated in a polo shirt for a boy or a dress for a girl.

Whatever outfits you choose need to coordinate with the décor of the room your portraits will be displayed in. There will be some distance between your throw pillows and the portraits framed on your wall, so it’s okay if it’s a little much colour and pattern when they’re right next to each other, but they should be in the same colour family and generally coordinate.

There is no ‘right’ colour to pull from your patterned outfit. Here we have a striped dress from Zara. If you have a house full of girls and your décor leans toward the feminine side, you may want to incorporate more pinks.

But pull blue from the same dress and, even with the same supporting colours, the outfit has a decidedly different feel. This combination would be perfect for a beach session.

When choosing your patterned piece of clothing, look for an all-over pattern as opposed to something that’s solid in some places and patterned in others. This is more common in kids clothes where you see a solid coloured shirt with some sort of graphic on the torso. In the photographs, your eye will instantly be drawn to the one area of pattern.

If ever I’m struggling to incorporate a colour in the kids outfits, I always check Zara and JCrew. They both have great basics in a multitude of colours. Each season, Zara comes out with great coloured trousers for boys, and I always think incorporating your coordinating colour with pants elevates the style just a bit.

A new pair of Vans is a great choice as well. You can’t go wrong with a cool pair of coloured kicks.

Now is the time for a final check. Take the outfits for all the members of your family and lay them out in the room where your portraits will eventually be displayed. Do the outfits look good with the décor of the room? Congratulations, you’ve successfully incorporated pattern into your family photographs!

(dress shown from Anthropologie)

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