I absolutely love shopping for my kids’ clothes. In fact I started shopping for them before I was even pregnant with my first baby and it’s only gotten more fun as they have grown! I have lots of favorite brands depending on age/gender/personality and what style I’m leaning towards at the moment. I also love a good bargain and score lots of great items at local consignment and thrift stores. Finding great outfits for portraits is something I really enjoy and I thought I’d share some of my tips and advice for styling your little (or not so little!) one.
For babies I love soft textures and colors with attention to details. I absolutely adore rompers and cried when my little guy outgrew them. Simple is often best. However simple doesn’t have to be boring, bold geometric patterns fit the bill just as well as soft muted shades of solid color. Accessories are lots of fun and there are loads of adorable hats, ties, suspenders, diaper covers, tutus, leg warmers, and more that are easily available. Etsy is a great place to look for unique and handmade items. I know that several of the children’s consignment stores in the Salem area carry hair accessories made by local artists at very reasonable prices. If you’re the crafty type you can even do some quick searches on Pinterest for tutorials on making things like tutus (seriously, if I can make one you can too!) and leg warmers. Just remember that it’s very possible to go overboard on the cute accessories, too much and you barely notice the adorable baby wearing all of them! If you’re really lucky you may have some family heirlooms passed down like a vintage baby bonnet or dress. These items are free to use and can really make a portrait session special.
For toddlers it’s important to make sure they can move around freely in their outfit, and that you don’t have to bribe your child with 24 blue M&Ms to wear it. Some toddlers are very opinionated on what they are wearing and others could care less. If you have a child that doesn’t care what you dress them in then count your blessings! Take your child’s personality and session location and theme into consideration when you are choosing outfits for portrait sessions. For example a little girl wearing a funky hip hop outfit might feel a little out of place in a sunlit field, and a girl in a white sundress and cowboy boots might look out of place in a more urban backdrop. Regardless of the style you’re going for it’s often a good idea to build an outfit in layers. For a little boy this could mean a collared shirt under another shirt or sweater with maybe a puffy vest on top. Toddlers have lots of the same fun accessory options that babies have with the added addition of shoes. Don’t forget to remember their shoes! If at all possible it’s best to avoid characters/writing on both shirts and shoes. Save the Elmo tee shirt and Dora the Explorer shoes for later.
Now that my kids are 5 and 7 I have them help me plan out their photo session outfits. I find that they are much more cooperative with the process when they feel like they have some input which in turn means they are motivated to actually put forth effort when the camera comes out. Sometimes I’ll give them 2-3 choices to pick from, other times I let them pick out the whole outfit (within reason…I still hold veto power!). If you and your child have vastly different ideas on what they should wear let them choose one outfit for half of the session with the rule that they wear the outfit you choose for the second half. Who knows, you might even like the photos of your child in the outfit of their choice better since it will be 100% them! Another way to stylize your child’s session is to draw from their interests and bring props or outfits that spotlight their love of reading, basketball, dinosaurs, rock n roll, or whatever their very favorite thing is. The same rules from above also apply here. Layering, accessories, and coordinating shoes are still important!
I started a Pinterest Board called Baby & Kids Style that I will be adding outfit ideas and inspiration to for more visual aids. I have more specific advice for dressing boys and girls including some of my favorite brands of clothing to photograph. I am also more then happy to help you plan your child’s outfit(s) prior to your session if you have a specific look in mind or just don’t know where to start!