What do you wear?

So let’s say you have five children, and I’m speaking hypothetically, of course, and you were heading off to the photography studio this week, and, again hypothetically, it’s been, oh, 9 years since you took a professional family photo …


Help me out here, beloved internets! On Wednesday we’re getting our picture taken. I am NOT ready! The boys all need hair cuts. I haven’t even begun to figure out what we’re going to wear and I think we’ve all gained at least 5 pounds over Thanksgiving (we’re overachievers that way).

A friend suggested I look at portraits online to get fresh ideas, so now, instead of sleeping, doing laundry, or unpacking from our Thanksgiving weekend, I’m obsessing over how to create the Perfect Family Look. There’s a lot of pressure, this being something we only do once a decade.

Decision to Make

Jeans or Khakis
White shirts or black
Bare feet or shoes
Everyone in pants or the girls in skirts
Boys in one color and girls in another
Parents in one color and kids in another

See how this can be all consuming. I had semi-decided on black tops for everyone, after all Tim has a black shirt and that seemed an easy place to start, then I looked online and saw all these fantastic pictures of families wearing white shirts with jeans. But is white really flattering in the winter when sun-kissed skin is a thing of the past? Of course, black is rather somber and, um, dark.

What about this picture where the men folk are wearing black tops with white pants and the women white shirts with black bottoms? Stylish and sophisticated or too zebra-y? The last thing I want is for people to open up their Christmas card and say, “Wow, Tim and Kathy look awfully zebra-ish this year.” I mean, can you think of anything worse?

I hate to be bothersome in the middle of the busy holiday season but I’m DESPERATE! What do you think? Any opinions? Any family portraits that you have seen or taken yourself and absolutely loved??? Don’t leave me uncoordinated, messy and without hope. I have shopping to do!


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23 thoughts on “What do you wear?”

  1. I LOVE your smiling pics with the kids below. In our church, we first called them home church, then cell groups (that really took off), then we moved to small groups (which didn’t take off) and now we’re back to cell groups again :)

    I have seen lots of pics with white shirts and blue jeans and they are very effective because the photographer can put different backgrounds (red, etc) and suddenly all the people look “warm” in the pic. I would also have the girls in pants too. But really, I said all that to say, as long as the colours don’t clash and are faily neutral, as long as the photographer is good, it will be a GORGEOUS family pic.

    Enjoy – will you blog one or two afterwards?

  2. I say go for coordinated rather than matching. We did one with varying blues, and both khakis and jeans. Unless you do some kind of weird pose, your feet probably won’t show, and we’re not going to be looking at your feet! Be clean and combed, maybe coordinate, look like you like each other, smile, and call it a classic!

  3. A funny one! You are so funny!

    We are doing a professional photo this too Lord willing and haven’t done one in ages. The last one we did about 4-5 years ago, I chose the black and white photo, and so then it didn’t matter what color anyone is wearing. It’s a nice thing and lends a timeless quality to the picture.

    This year the children will be in red because they all have a nice red thing…that’s how I decided…boys in red sweater vests and Sarah in a red dress. David may wear black or red — that’s the way we decide…what color do people have the most of, and everyone has a nice red thing but me. SO, dang, I guess I have to go get a pretty red sweater!

  4. I also think it can look nice for some tops to be different, if they coordinate, like maybe have all the people in jeans but different kinds of tops — looks nice but also varied and more “real.”

  5. Hmmmm……..what to wear can be an all consuming research project! I have to say that I do like the white shirts/jeans or khakis…

    I was watching Extreme Homemakeover last night and the featured family has the best black and white picture done – I couldn’t tell if all the clothes were coordinated (sorry, that doesn’t help does it?) but the family was all relaxed – smiling but posing however they wanted to! The dad said that he loved it so much because everyone was being natural and not all serious and posed…..

    Don’t forget that if you have a nice bright background you don’t want to necessarily wear the same color as the background. I’ve done that before and it looked like our heads were kinda “floating”. Watch out for gaping shirts if you wear button downs.. Girls in pants makes them able to pose in more positions… I think from pictures I’ve seen, everyone in the same outfits looks the best.

    Look for some pictures that you like and copy those ideas..whatever you choose to wear, as long as all the kids (and parents) are smiling then you’ve hit the jackpot!!!!!

    Did I help at all? or just add more concerns and confusion? ha! Can’t wait to see the pics!

  6. Oh dear Oh dear Oh dear!! I have absolutely no idea!!

    I do know that when I see a family portrait- I often say, or think, hymm- how clever that they did such and such.

    But what??? I can’t remember. Maybe a color could be seen on each person in some way or another- but only subtly?

    Selfishly I do think you should make sure Tim and you look GREAT. The kids are going to look wonderful whatever they wear- but you two might want to be proactive and lovely.

    I like color. But of course black and white cover lots of ills.

    IT will be wonderful. Surely others will have USEFUL suggestions. I love you each- any way!! Aunt Kate

  7. OK, I have one more idea, since I have been thinking about this lately myself, can you tell? I think it looks nice for the kids to be somewhat coordinated but the parents to be a little different, just wearing their own look.

    Or, if you pick jeans or khakis for everyone, you might choose the kind of pants that the parents look best in, since the kids will look cute no matter what! ARC

  8. Oh, the stuff of nightmares!! We take photos with Scott’s entire family (19 people) every year or two, so we’ve done it all. This past year we did browns and pinks and white with jeans. I actually really liked it! We’ve also done pastels with jeans, and tan pants with red or blue shirts, but I thought we looked like we worked at Target or were going to a 4th of July picnic. I like black. I always choose barefoot if feet are going to show b/c our shoes are always so beat up! :) I love white with jeans, but I’d probably wait until summer. I usually just cover my bed with a bunch of different shirts and see how they look. It’s a big deal! Hope you’ll share the finished product!! :)

  9. Yeah, white might not be flattering…what about shades of blue? Blues generally go together, and that way everyone can look both an individual and a part of the family. I love the idea of jeans and barefeet…nice and casual!

  10. I think the important thing is that each person is smiling. Perhaps you should give a jar of Nutella for each to hold during the photo shoot … nothing cheers and coordinates quite like a jar of delicious chocolate hazelnut spread.

    I must admit, I’m starting to seriously regret my mumbled, “Sure, whatever” when Kathy asked if we could do this family portrait thingy. Why does everything have to be such a production? I’ll bet we could take a great picture in our own backyard, and rely on Photoshop to spruce up those of us who are less photogenic.

    I’m just teasing. Well, mostly. :)

  11. All I remember is to wear bright solid colors. That’s what the professionals say. (I think a bright shirt w/ jeans is a casual yet cute way to go w/ all them boys you have.)

  12. Hey E Family!

    This sounds like lot’s of fun!! In my humble opinion, I think that ya’ll would look cute in “fall colors.” You know, like brown, red, orange, green, dark yellow, dusky blue etc. Every one could wear a different, yet co-ordinating color. It would look cute, yet sponataneous. Yeah, that’s it! The “Spontaneous Happy Look.” :) Have a great day, and good luck!

    By the way, your son was very well behaved at the CIT meeting. We all bowed in homage to your superb child raising skills. Of course, they didn’t let him drive the truck… but that wasn’t meant to be personal.

  13. I like a combination of the colors of reds and blues paired with jeans, like jean shirts, jean skirts, or blue jean pants. Anyway, anything you choose, your family will look great in.

  14. Ideas:
    1. Choir robes. You’ll never notice any poundage gained over thanksgiving.
    2. Bath robes. Same weight-gain-covering effect, but slightly more casual.
    3. Mix it up some. If everyone’s identical, you’ll look like one of those…(gas)…homeschool families. So pick a couple colors that go well together and see if you all have (or can get) different styles in those colors too. Some in button shirts, some in polos, etc. black or white can be one of those colors, which makes it easier.
    I kid you not that there must have been no fewer than 97 emails back and forth between our various family members making plans for the colors in the family photo.
    I hope it’s easier for you.

  15. I vote for the Autumn colors. I have a thing about my kids wearing black, don’t really know why. Jeans and browns, reds, golds, even sage would be lovely. I like barefoot too! I can’t wait to see this picture with your beautiful children.

  16. I’m chiming in…..I LOVE the browns/pinks with jeans idea!!!!!! Especially with as much as you love those colors and wear them! I agree about the white being a seasonal thing too. I think red/white/blue is a little patriotic. :) Not that THAT is a bad thing… :) So, there ya go!
    (Tim’s Nutella thing has some merit, you’d have lovely brown teeth to co-ordinate the effort. Not to mention genuine smiles!) :)

  17. For our photos (and we’ve only once included adults, so that makes my life so much easier), I use the photo session as an excuse to run to Children’s Place and buy everyone a matching/coordinating shirt. I usually do jeans or khakis, but Abby can be totally different (in a dress or skirt just because she’s a girl). Maybe I need to stick Dave and me (or is it “me and Dave”?) in the next one, so I can experience the full dosage of stress/dread that photos should bring. :-) I like bright colors, so we have lots of red, orange, etc. tops. But whatever you do, they’ll figure out a good background, I would think.

  18. Well….this has become my nightmare as well. It is simply IMPOSSIBLE to get 11 of us looking decent at the same moment and when WE are sure we look decent the photographer is invariably scratching his head or some such…..

    It got so bad that we really don’t do professional any longer. They get grumpy and mean when they see us coming.

    A couple of Christmas’ ago we set up the tripod, moved all the couches back and went with white t-shirt and jeans – shamelessly stole Liz’s idea.

    Then we did blue at the fountain in town before Mike deployed. Some of us in electric blue shirts, some in powder blue and all in jeans.

    I’ve just seen Liz’s new photos and plan to just do what Liz does from here on out. This year it’s jeans and black – and trees. ::snort::

    I was starting to worry – ok – obsess about it – because our support group takes photos this week! THEN I realized that the girls wouldn’t be home and it wouldnt’ be a FAMILY photo anyway….so we won’t have a family photo in our Christmas card – then again I’ve not sent out cards in three or four years…..hmm….I see a trend…commenting on your blog is sort of like therapy! BTW – I nominated you for best family/group blog – probably because it’s entertainment and therapy all in one! Ok what was I saying….yes….I decided not to worry about the family photo until the girls are here…but now you’ve got me worrying again. Oy vey.

    I have found that jeans make it easy and the kids are comfortable and more natural…..my sister in law HATES it and thinks the boys should be in suits and the girls in matching homemade dresses – but I’ve not attained to that level as of yet…..

    Black t-shirts are winning here because Mike’s uniform t-shirts are black and he says he can outfit us all…..we may look like we’re drowning but we’ll be matching. ::snort::

    I can’t wait to read more about your adventure…and of course, to see the photo.

  19. You have hit upon the one thing I dread every time we have a picture made (every other year). We usually do jeans and bare feet, the tops alternate. Two pics ago, the boys wore white long-sleeve button-down shirts with the sleeves rolled up, the girls wore red turtlenecks. Last year, the boys wore olive t-shirts and the girls wore white t-shirts. This year I did NOT want to buy anything. So we went for the coordinated rather than matching look with a variety of blue, red, and white stripes and solids. I STILL had to buy Chase a t-shirt. The pics have all turned out nice!

  20. After reading all the above, I realize I am probably one of the only ones of the opinion that family portraits should not be taken with such casual clothing as jeans, especially for the girls. I think nice khakis or pants for the boys and skirts or dresses for the girls are what look best when you are posing for a portrait. Get out your favorite church clothes (oops, perhaps that is actually jeans for some) and look like you put some consideration into what you were wearing instead of just happened to show up at the photographer with your old jeans.

    I realize that jeans are a lot more comfortable and make you look more “natural” like you do when lazing around the house. But putting on reasonably nice clothes (not necessarily button down shirts or ties) makes the boys look sharp and the girls look more ladylike and feminine as God made them.

    Perhaps I am only showing my age and inability to keep up with current culture. Nevertheless I thought I would offer another opinion for what it’s worth.

  21. Ok personaly I think the black and white looks GREAT it did not make me think of a cow until after you said it. :) Or you can do what our family did for the Church Directory. For those who havent seen our picture we all wore our favorite shirts with different sayings on them.

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