Selecting outfits for your holiday portrait session!!

I’ve been on your side of the camera, and I know that once your session is booked, outfits for holiday sessions are usually the next thing on a client’s mind!  

three children sitting on a whit tuffed bench in front of a Christmas tree

It was for me at least!  It feels like the next biggest part of preparing for portraits minus the actual session itself! 

Believe me –  trying to figure out coordinated clothing for me, my boys, and my husband that not only looks good on us individually, together, and conveys well on camera! 

That’s a tall order and boy do I sympathize with you as you start your planning!

Here are my top tips for narrowing down your wardrobe!  

1.  Decide on a formality level! 

family of five standing in a field smiling

I think there are three levels for your holiday portrait fashion choices  – pajamas, casual Christmas, and fancy festive!  

Consider your own family culture and traditions!  Are you the “Opening Your Gifts in Matching PJ’s” family or the “Dressed to the Nines Christmas Dinner” family?  Mine was the latter!

Go with whatever formality level feels right for your family!  Don’t hesitate to go all out for it if you want though!  Christmas images are a great time to be more formal than you’d normally be since they don’t typically stay out year-round!   

Once you’ve decided on the formality level, remember to keep it consistent!  

One family member in casual wear and one in a fancy Christmas outfit won’t be as cohesive in the images. If your family looks like they could all be put in the same setting comfortably, then you are on the right track!  

2. Take the backdrop or setting into account!

back drop setting a black and white plaid blanket with decorative green pillows and a wooden Christmas tree

You should always consider the backdrop or location for the session when choosing your outfits.  

Will you be outdoors or indoors?  

Will the setup feel traditional or modern? 

For Santa’s House Call clients at Historic Riverview on the James, the backdrops and settings will be along very traditional Christmas lines.  The scenes will have reds, greens with warm tones.  The farm has rustic feel at various locations so that should considered as well!

If you are doing an in-home Santa’s House Call session in December, you can take your own decor and home environment into account when making your selections!  

3. Choose a color or pattern theme!    

For holiday portraits, you can’t go wrong choosing festive colors! 

Red, Green, Plaid, or Tartan are probably the most traditional and always work!  

However, you could also choose to go in a more bright and vibrant direction or even with neutral color combinations.  Look to coordinate the colors across the outfits – weaving that color or pattern throughout in varying amounts. 

Here are some color palette ideas you could use: 

  • Green, red, and gold
  • Emerald and burgundy
  • Red, white, and black
  • Forest green, rust, and tan
  • Gold and cream
  • White, cream, and grey
  • Black and white
  • Grey, navy, and burgundy

*Add in a plaid or tartan and select a solid color with lots of these options.  

two little girls sitting on a cream couch in front of a Christmas Tree.

4. Consider textures and layering!    

Holiday portraits generally have a cozy vibe so you could add some comfy fabrics or wardrobe pieces to increase the cozy factor.  

  • A knit or textured sweater, scarf, faux fur, or puffy vest.   
  • Flannel is always a classic. 
  • Layers to your outfit give more options for variety (on or off).  

Some other general factors to consider in selecting your wardrobe!  

  • First off, no matter what you choose to wear, the best outfit choices are something you find comfortable, well-fitting, and flattering on each of you.  If you feel confident and comfortable, it definitely conveys during your portrait session! 
  • We want YOU to stand out in your portrait and not your outfit.  For this reason, I don’t recommend clothing with large graphics or writing.  Basically, anything that draws attention away from the person wearing said outfit or clothing item!  
  • Not sure where to start – I recommend your own closet!  Go through your family’s own clothes.  Perhaps you only find one item or maybe a whole outfit for one family member.  Begin with that!  Pull the colors/pattern and formality level from there and fashion the other outfits from that item.  
family seated on a black and white plaid blanket in a field of Christmas Trees.

I’ll be laying out some options for WHERE you can shop in a different blog post!  

Don’t miss out on portraits with Santa this holiday season! 


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