Right along side the printing press, the light bulb and pre-school, I think the sewing machine deserves a place in history as one of the greatest inventions of all time. Without the sewing machine (coupled with a healthy dose of global capitalism and factory production), I wouldn’t have been able to rock peg-legged jeans in the 80’s, stirrup pants and over-sized sweaters in the 90’s and skinny jeans in the millennium. I can’t rock the skinny jeans anymore, but it doesn’t matter because I’m pretty sure I’ll be pegging my jeans again next week considering it’s about time for that hideous trend to roll around (note to self: get NKOTB poster out of the attic and hang in bedroom).
As a kid, I ogled the pages of Vogue, Bazaar and W Magazine on my grandmother’s coffee table. When she was finished with the old issues, they ended up spread out all over the floor of my bedroom. Wielding a pair of scissors, I snipped out looks and catchy phrases with the glee of a crazed serial killer, then stowed them lovingly in my Trapper Keeper for future reference during Algebra class. It’s a miracle I’m not a slave to fashion today, but I do occasionally experience a rush of endorphins when I drive past Nordstrom.
That is why my heart palpitates when a client asks me, “What should I wear?”. It’s such an easy opportunity for you to bring an authentic piece of yourself to our session – not just a smile and a sweater that “blends in.” Here are some things I think work really well:
Color it up
I know GAP wants you to believe that khaki makes the world a better place, but um…no, it really doesn’t. It’s the sartorial equivalent of eating oatmeal for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day of your life. If you happen to be a zookeeper, then you’re allowed to wear head-to-toe khaki. That would be a true reflection of you and it would be awesome. A splash of khaki is a great choice if you dig a casual, laid-back-preppy kind of look, but reach a little deeper into your closet and pair it with a color that pops. Check out the contrast between the mom and dad here: simply perfect.
Prints aren’t just for leopards
Wearing patterned clothes for your photo shoot is like eating a box of Twinkies. Two or three are heavenly, but if you eat the whole box you find yourself checking your health insurance policy for liposuction coverage later. I salivate over luscious, bold prints and patterns at a shoot, especially if that’s something you feel comfortable in or if it’s a part of your family’s heritage.
Make a statement
You’re the woman of the family; the center of their universe. You will be the anchor of the family photographs, so you might as well make a statement with something you love – a scarf, a piece of jewelry, shoes. You know exactly what it is for you.That bold necklace you bought in a quaint flea market on your honeymoon and never wear anymore? Guess what – it makes your t-shirt and jeans jealous. The cocktail ring you never wear because it keeps getting snagged on the kids’ diapers? Time to dig it out of the jewelry box. How about those boots you splurged on and never regretted? Giddyup.
Me? I can’t live without my red heels (both pairs). They keep me grounded in who I was before having kids and they’re less depressing than trying to fit into the jeans I wore ten years ago. Every woman has that piece in her wardrobe she’s proud of. It’s time that piece made a statement again.
Compliment each other
Matching outfits are for athletic teams, marching bands and show choirs; not for family photographs. Every member of your family is wonderfully different with their quirks, personalities, opinions and personal style. This is the juicy stuff that makes your family unique, especially if your kids are older. Showcase those differences in your family photographs.
Consider choosing outfits that compliment, rather than match each other by picking a color palette with a few choices. For example, a beach shoot might call for breezy hues like blues, yellows and whites. This is also a good time to mix and match the prints and solids. Moms, remember YOU’RE the anchor, so rock that gorgeous maxi dress and let the wind wrap itself around you while you snuggle your kids…in their complimentary outfits of course.
One caveat to this is siblings when they are younger. Having two girls of my own, I’ll admit it – I dress them alike when they ask for it and I secretly love it. If your kids are clamoring to wear the same dress, consider doing an outfit change during your shoot. Check out these darlings: Each of them are SO different in their personalities, but irresistible in their matching sun dresses.
Keep it real
You’re making an investment in custom family portraiture, so naturally, you want everyone to look ship shape, right? I get that – I’ll take any excuse to expand my wardrobe (Wow, the trash collectors didn’t throw my trash can half way down the street today! I should totally buy new shoes to celebrate). Most importantly, however, you want everyone to feel comfortable on the day of your shoot. If you’re a sports-enthusiast family, go ahead and let your son wear his favorite jersey. If your family camps and hikes every weekend, wear your North Face jackets and Merrells. My girls are in a mismatched dresses and Star Wars phase right now, so this is what hangs on my wall because it’s the way they REALLY are right now.
What you wear is important, but not as important as capturing the way your family really truly is, right now.