Lauren West Photography » Newborn, Child and Family Photographer in the San Fernando Valley and Conejo Valley

What To Wear

What To Wear

I’m often asked for advice from clients about what to wear for their session. Below are some guidelines for different type of sessions that will hopefully help you when choosing outfits for you and your family. You can also check out my “What to Wear” Pinterest board for more outfit ideas and style inspiration!


Matching is out, coordinating is in!

Long gone are the days of everyone wearing a white shirt and jeans (the exception for this being a newborn session where I encourage mom and dad to dress in neutrals so as not to distract from baby.) You wouldn’t normally go out with your entire family dressed exactly the same, right? Instead, pick a couple of colors as a running theme, throw in one or two neutrals, and choose your outfits accordingly. By choosing a color palette that you love and dressing everyone around it, you will create a family that looks like they belong together while still celebrating everyone’s uniqueness. To get the flow going with wardrobe for your family, start with one outfit that you really like. From there, build from it for everyone else. You don’t need to shop and buy a new outfit for every single person in your family!

What colors will compliment the walls in your home?

Do you like neutrals? Bright colors? Since you will be hanging your family’s photos up in your home you want to make sure that what you’re wearing in the photos won’t conflict with the style or colors of your home.

Don’t forget accessories.

Accessories can add another dimension of interest to your outfit. Statement necklaces and bangles for mom, suspenders for dad, bows/headbands for the girls, hats for boys…. go with what fits your personality and have fun!

Limit patterns, but add layers.

Personally, I enjoy having an outfit in the mix that has all the colors in it. However, not everyone in the photo should wear patterns as it may distract the final image. Layers, however, are your friend. Layers add dimension and depth. In the summer? Layer your dress with a cute belt and pendant necklace. In the fall and winter? Cardigans, belts, statement necklaces, scarves, hats, blazers, etc. Not only will they make it easier to create each outfit, but they will allow you some flexibility in creating a variety of looks without having to change your whole outfit. Scarves, hats, or belts, for example, when used in moderation, can be great additions to your ensemble and will help give dimension and add visual interest to your photos.

That being said, don’t be afraid to mix patterns and textures if you know what you’re doing!

Say no to characters.

Even though your little one may be obsessed with Mickey Mouse, you will want to leave that shirt at home… unless of course we’re at Disneyland for your photo session! Characters (or big logos) on clothing can be distracting.

Avoid all white or all black clothing.

White tops generally wash people out in photos, so I suggest staying away from white altogether unless it’s just an accent color. Something with a pattern (white stripes, etc.) is ok, but a solid white when you’re going to be outdoors isn’t the best idea. Same goes for all black. You’ll lose detail in the clothing, so if you love black, just choose to wear it sparingly. Or, if you’re a lover of all things black and white, use those colors to accessorize your outfit instead.

Textures are your friend.

Simple can be great! But adding dimension with textures and fabrics can create more interest in your photo. Using different finishes, chunky knit wool, a shiny chambray, matte leather–these all make your outfits more interesting and versatile. Start with your base layer of clothing – your solid colored dress, a solid colored top and jeans and then add layers of texture and accessories. Add a textured short jacket or blazer, add a floral scarf, add a chunky necklace and bracelets or a headband.

Dress with your background in mind.

If we’re shooting outside in nature where everything is green, best not to have your outfits primarily in green, but rather another color that will stand out. (You can accent with green, though.) If you’re in a rustic field, stay away from too many neutrals and instead add in more color.

Wear attire that is well suited for your setting.

If we’re going to be shooting in a grassy field, probably not the place to be wearing a cocktail dress or a tie. If we’re in your home and your furniture and walls are colorful, wear clothing that is more neutral, such as tans, browns, ivories, etc. and add in pops of color so the photos don’t end up looking too busy. This might be a good setting to dress more comfortable and cozy as well. If we’re at the beach, colors that enhance the setting are great–neutrals, blues, greens, corals… but not stark white! Don’t forget to pay attention to your feet. A cute pair of shoes can make the outfit but it may be appropriate to go barefoot depending on your location.

Don’t completely forego comfort for fashion.

Sure, you want to look your best in your photos and probably dress up more than you do in everyday life, but if you’re worrying about how your arms look while we’re taking photos or keep having to pull up your Spanx (I’ve been there!), you’re not only going to be uncomfortable, but you’ll look uncomfortable in your photos. Cover areas you’re not too keen on and wear clothing that accentuates your best assets. Know your body type and what styles will flatter your figure. Then, you can look beautiful and feel confident!

The same goes for your kids—if they’re uncomfortable in what you dressed them in, they’re going to let you know and probably complain about their outfit or shoes instead of having fun on our shoot!

Think timeless.

My hope is that you will hang your photos in your home and cherish them forever, no matter where you live. Choosing simple, classic clothing and accessories will give your images a timeless feel. Of course, if you’re taking photos for a specific event or holiday and say, you really want to be festive and wear red, green and white for your holiday card, by all means, wear what you desire! 😉

Lay it out.

There are tons of great tools out there online including thousands of Pinterest boards in addition to mine that are dedicated to ideas on what to wear for portraits. Once you’ve pulled some options out of your closet just keep it simple and lay your clothing choice out on a solid neutral colored surface (beige carpet works great). If you’d like to send me a photo of your clothes laid out, I am always happy to provide feedback. I want you all to feel comfortable and look great!


For Your Pregnancy Session:

In addition to the above suggestions, here are some ideas specifically for what to wear to your pregnancy session. (If you would like to take bare belly shots, please make sure you’re not wearing anything that will leave creases/marks on your skin.)

Maxi Dresses.

The perfect thing to wear for maternity shoots. For one, it’s incredibly comfortable. Comfort is key when you are pregnant, and when you’re taking maternity photos for an hour or so, you want to be as comfortable as can be. It also looks amazing on any pregnant body because it’s incredibly flattering. It covers up anything you don’t want shown, but can also be pulled agains the belly to show off your adorable baby bump. One that has really lightweight fabric and flows with the wind is also a beautiful option!


Since the main focus in your maternity shoot is your bump, you may not want anything to take attention away from that, like a pattern or print. Wear solid colors for your bump to stand out the most. If you want to incorporate pattern into your shoot, have your partner wear a patterned shirt instead. Or, you can bring in some fun, bright and bold accessories like necklaces and scarves to compliment the solid colors. I absolutely encourage you to dress for what you feel fits your personality! Just make sure you aren’t overly pattern happy and you and your partner are wearing clashing patterns. Keep in mind that patterns can be very distracting, you what the focus of your images to be that beautiful baby belly.

Tight clothing.

If you are comfortable with wearing tight clothing and don’t mind showing off all of your gorgeous pregnant body curves, opt for a beautiful tight bodycon dress. They look absolutely stunning on pregnant women because they truly show off the amazing body of the pregnant body. Pregnancy is a beautiful thing and what a woman’s body does when pregnant is incredible. Showing that off is the perfect way to pay tribute to your pregnant self. Be proud of those beautiful curves. (On the flip side of tight clothing, if you’re comfortable having on less clothing, I encourage you to bear that belly!)

Have two outfits.

A great idea is to have two have two outfits to wear for your maternity shoot, such as a casual outfit and a dressy outfit. This will not only give you options when choosing which photos you want to hang in your home, but it will also give you some variety in the photos as well. We can always find a spot for a wardrobe change! Yes, your partner can have one, too, if they so desire. 😉