Follow these tips for picking out your Christmas card photo outfits.

How to select outfits for family photos

If you're having Christmas card photos taken by a professional photographer (or even just a creative family friend), you've likely thought about how you're going to style the gang for the photo shoot. There's a distinctive art to choosing what to wear for family photos – try too hard and you run the risk of looking cheesy, but attempt to wing it and your pictures might look hastily put together. No worries! The pros have plenty of advice to share when it comes to selecting your Christmas card wardrobe. Follow these tips to pick out the perfect outfits:

1. Determine a color palette
Gone are the days of matching sweaters and boring khaki pants. It's much more stylish (and natural-looking) to give each member of the family his or her own outfit and look. Rather than picking the same hue for everyone, chose a color palette with up to five tones. They should be complementary, but they don't all have to match. Take, for example, a fall-themed palette of beige, brown, eggplant, burnt red and copper. Another beautiful and stylish color scheme could include robin's egg blue, sea foam green, lilac, purple and ivory.

2. Buy your clothing pieces
After you've decided upon a color scheme, pick out the major clothing pieces everyone will wear: shirts, pants, dresses and skirts. These items should fall within your color scheme and represent all of your hues equally. Don't be afraid to mix up the structure of your outfits, either: Dad might don a collared shirt and casual vest, while your teenage son could opt for a sweater and nice jeans.

Next, it's time to accessorize. Professional photographers love seeing well-adorned families, as accessories add style, texture and visual interest to your photos. Think scarves, layered tops, cardigans, belted dresses, etc. You certainly don't want to go overboard with accessories, but as long as your photo setting is relatively neutral – an outdoor panorama or your own living room, for example – your pieces will add to your overall look rather than taking away from it.

Another thing to keep in mind as you're purchasing outfits is that only one (or maybe two, if you have a large family) person should have a patterned shirt. One child wearing plaid can provide visual interest, but if every family member is doing so, your clothing can begin to overwhelm your photos. Choose one or two people to wear focal point pieces that coordinate with your color scheme, and chose solid-toned clothing for the other members of your family. (Side note: Avoid logos or branded shirts altogether. Trust us on this.)

3. Anticipate pairs
Photographer Kristen Duke recommends thinking about who is likely to stand next to whom during your family photo shoot. For example, mom and dad often naturally pair up. Sisters may be likely to do the same. Anticipate the natural pairings in your family and dress those people accordingly. You and your spouse, for example, won't want to wear the same color shirt, as you'll probably be standing next to each other during your photo shoot.

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