Holiday Mini Sessions – What to wear

It’s that time of year!  Everyone is scrambling to book their holiday mini sessions – whether they be outdoor or in studio.  Once you’ve decided whether you want an outdoor session this year or a studio session the next natural question is… what are we going to wear?!?  And the shopping (or panicking) begins!

Some basic guidelines for shopping for your holiday mini:


  • I always welcome holiday dresses on little girls but it’s important to pay attention to whether or not your daughter can sit in the dress without showing undies. If she can’t, then this may limit the variety of poses we can get.  Usually this means avoid short, fitted A-line and sheath dresses.  This really applies whether your session is in studio or outdoors.

  • Most holiday sets work well with reds, greens, golds, whites, & silver/grey but remember that neutrals like tan, beige, and khaki can also work.
  • Jeans/Denim always work and they are so easy

  • Everybody does not have to be matching exactly, coordinating is better.  Choose a base color (say for example, Olive Green) and then make sure each family member has at least one item of clothing (or an accessory) that matches or is in that same color family

  • Don’t forget to accessorize! Scarves, hats, jewelry, legwarmers (just checking if you are paying attention) and layers can all add interest and variety to your look and your gallery — and if they don’t work — we can just remove them!  It beats making a toddler angry with multiple outfit changes too!

  • This is the one time where shoes kind of matter in the studio.  Sometimes we really want that full body shot and so we need good, photo worthy footwear. That said, toddlers and babies under age 1 always look cute barefoot.  I tend to recommend away from the tights/no shoes look but sometimes it can work

Outdoor Sessions

Most of the studio tips apply to outdoor as well so make sure to go over them but here some additional tips for outdoor sessions:

  • Take note of the location where you will be shooting and match your clothing to your environment to some degree.  For example, if your session is at the beach, you wouldn’t put your daughter in a black tulle holiday dress.  If your session is in the woods or a park, lean toward earth tones to match your environment (muted earth tones are ideal) such as creams, tans, browns, burgundy, and so on.

  • If your session is at park with lots of green, or at formal gardens, you can dress much more formally.  Vests, jacket and tie, dressier dresses can be worn here.   Other colors can contrast with green really well too such as jewel tones (purples and pinks work with green as do blues).

  • Plan for jackets or over layers in case it’s cold!

  • Avoid having just one person in a print as (such as just Dad in checks) because they will stand out more than others in the photo.  If Dad will be wearing a checked shirt, maybe your son is also in a checked shirt and/or maybe tone it down with a solid color vest or sport coat over the shirt.

  • Mom – choose your outfit first then work everyone else around yours…why?

    Because come on – we know that we are the hardest one to shop for and we usually leave ourselves for last.  Not this time!  You’ll be much happier with your photos – trust me!

Remember, solid colors work best, textures are great (think lace, corduroy, chunky sweaters, cable knits, etc), layers add interest, and avoid big logos or characters on clothing.

Last but not least, here is a list of stores that usually have great portrait clothing:
Old Navy
Janie & Jack

Have any more tips to share with me?  Did I miss any? Please comment below!

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