How to Choose Oufits for Family Photos, Picky Kid Edition



It seems like fall is the perfect season for family photos – the ‘golden hour’ light is literally golden, the kids won’t be sweaty uncomfortable subjects and the pics are ready just in time to order holiday cards.

Choosing outfits for kids is the hardest part for me – coming up with a cohesive look is hard enough and if your kid is highly opinionated like mine, multiply that difficulty by infinity.  Shopkins fever has hit hard in the first month of kindergarten, mamas, and it ain’t pretty.  My oldest has exactly one pair of those leggings which she always wears on Monday – guess what I pry out of her insistent little hands every. following. day. of the week?   However, we’ve successfully taken family photos the last two years with nary a character or pajama piece in sight.  Magic?  Nope – mom strategy. (And maybe a little bribery.)

Here are some tips for getting kids to wear outfits you both like for family photos, while letting them express their individuality.


baby dress on sale! (c/o) /  leggings (c/o) / rose gold hightops


girl’s dress on sale! (c/o) /  leggings see first pic (c/0) / sparkly red ballet flats, similar


toddler girl’s tunic on sale! (c/o) /  leggings on sale! (c/o)


girl’s dress on sale! (c/o) /  striped leggings on sale! (c/o)

1. Simplify

This year I decided to pick one brand that offered variations on the same styles or a tight color scheme and let my older daughter pick her outfit first. That way the kids can wear totally different outfits but still feel like they have a say over what they wear. A few brands are really good at coordinated lines like Tea, where these outfits are from. The dresses and leggings we picked are super-soft jersey and have washed up nicely (even the fancy tutu part). Their girls’ dress and shirt styles are typically boxy or swingy and look adorable on babies and toddlers, but good to keep in mind if your bigger kid is slim or likes her clothes more fitted. Another easy way to find coordinated pieces everyone will love is to choose a color from a brand’s recent or current line, and search their site for the color name – for example, searching “soot” at Boden, pretty charcoal navy. It definitely helps if the color name is unique- Kickee Pants is good at choosing names and offering lots of styles. (And their clothing is OMG soft if your kid is sensitive about rough or scratchy fabric).


2. Create opportunities for individuality

Depending on the level of pickiness and how many opinionated kids you have in your family, you can make the executive decision on a cohesive color scheme – in this case, navy, gray & gold. Then you’re free to choose clothes from any source if your kids all don’t fit within one brand’s size offerings. Tip: picking neutrals works so well because it’s ok if there are some variations in the basic color it still goes together. If you pick a more specific one, like I did with plum last year, it’s really difficult to tell if things match when shopping online. Then the fun part – they get to stamp their little personalities on the outfit! In this case, both girls picked fun shoes – rose gold hightops for the little and sparkly red ballet flats and a random headband for the big. You can have them stick with the overall scheme, or go rogue – it’ll make the pics that much more personalized and fun to look back on.

3. Relax

If they’re unhappy with or uncomfortable in their clothing, it’s definitely going to show in the pictures so it’s not worth forcing them to wear something. (Learned that the hard way during the terrible twos, never again!) So, my favorite diva still got to wear a tutu and throw on a last-minute headband that didn’t match, but she’s ‘feelin’ herself’ and it shows. But when they go way off-script it can be frustrating – like wanting to wear their favorite rainboots or hat they never take off? Maybe they don’t feel like themselves without it or they’re super proud of their contribution, so make it their signature piece. Pics of my oldest as a toddler when she wore ladybug rainboots, a tutu and a plastic tiara with every outfit are priceless – sometimes a statement piece makes the photo. Go with the flow. Happy kids, happy pics. Good luck, mamas!

Sunflower field photos by Alex & Bella Photography



  1. I just bought a round of mini Boden from their Roald Dahl collection for this very reason! I stuck to the fantastic Mr Fox and got the three boys, who it fits, coordinating tops. I can’t wait to see them and I’m already planning my dress (last falls Isabella Sinclair Anthro plaid midi dress) to go with. I’ve never done family pics so this may be the year! Dh has a ton of neutral clothes so he gets to be the boring one.

  2. Love the baby girl picks from Tea! Definitely one of my favorite brands for my 13 month old! Precious, but still super comfy, even to nap in. We have several of the pieces in this article already! Their little cardigans are also super cute layered over the dresses for when it gets cooler. Also loving Next Direct, another British company with styles similar to Boden, but slightly lower price point

  3. Love these choices! Especially the boys. There are so many options for girls, but not as many for boys. And as a family photographer, I’m thrilled you mentioned the importance of mom relaxing a bit. Photo sessions should be fun and filled with laughter and when kids are comfortable, their happiness will show in the photos.

    • 🙂 It can definitely be difficult to chill out (especially for type As *raises hand*) but mama’s stress level is definitely going to come through in kids’ cooperation level and attitude! Caffeine up and carry on, fake it till you make it, then have a glass of wine to celebrate!

    • I’d just put him in the ‘big boy’ category and give him a small set of options, or if you just can’t deal, show him some pinterest inspo pics/outfit collages, give him a general color scheme and let him loose. Pending your final approval, of course 😉

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