What to Wear: How to Dress Children for a Portrait Session

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What to Wear: How to Dress Children for a Portrait Session

What to Wear {Part 2: Children}

As a photographer, it can help your customers when you direct them on what to wear. The next number of weeks, guest writer Kelsey Anderson will be providing information to help you coach your customers on what to wear.

When booking a portrait session I think it is almost always a given that the client is going to ask for suggestions on what to wear. I struggled with this question when I was first starting out. My clients would come dressed in matching outfits or in the same color head to toe. These clothing choices do not make for the most visually appealing image, right?

I knew that I had to change my clients way of thinking when it came to choosing outfits for their portraits. I personally believe that is part of my job to help style a session. This gives my clients another reason to hiring me over going to a chain portrait studio. I always tell them to choose items with good color, texture (ie, knits, ruffles, denim) and accessories. I tell them to think coordinating not matching. I even go as far as offering to come to their homes and dig through their closet with them or tell them to bring a trunk full of options and we can put together outfits on location.

When setting up a toddler or children’s session I try to feel out the personality of the child. I ask the parents to bring items along that are important to the child like a favorite blanket or a skateboard. The possibilities are endless when it comes to styling these sessions but there are a few main styles my clients typically go towards Trendy, Prep, Classic, or Skater Style. I really stress to my clients to layer. The reason being that you can add and remove and create almost an entirely different look by removing a jacket, or using a scarf as a head wrap. I always bring along some of my own accessories as well from my children’s closets and use them if needed.

Here are a few items I love for toddler and child sessions.  I like to keep ideas of clothing choices fresh in my clients head and don’t want to have to have them dig through my blog to find them.

what to wear for portraits

For toddler girls:toddler girl portrait clothing

For toddler boys:

toddler boys portrait clothing

what to wear for a portrait

For girl children:

girls portrait clothing

For boy children:

boys portrait clothing

The clothing in my sample outfits came from the below stores.

Limited Too

Abercrombie Kids


Old Navy

My Baby Rocks


Other Suggested Stores to shop at:

Matilda Jane

Mini Boden

GAP Kids

Abercrombie Kids

Heritage 81 Kids

Little Rory

Kelsey Anderson is a natural light photographer in Las Vegas, Nevada. Specializing in maternity, newborn, baby, children, senior and family photography.

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  1. September 15, 2010 at 9:41 pm —

    thank you for your good post !

  2. Danielle
    May 26, 2010 at 8:36 pm —

    Thanks for this fabulous post! Not only do I LOVE your work, but your ideas are so inspirational. Your what to wear guides are awesome and so perfect to help guide the clients for their sessions. Thanks so much and can’t wait to see more of you on here!

  3. May 25, 2010 at 4:46 pm —

    Great suggestions! Thank you so much Kelsey! 🙂

  4. May 25, 2010 at 2:11 pm —

    GREAT article Kelsey! Thanks for sharing!

  5. May 25, 2010 at 12:41 pm —

    I am interested to see more proof of this being in violation. If Kelsey, Jodi, and I have been in contact with manufactures about this subject and had no issues. Have you been in direct contact with anyone Tanya or just pulling info from their websites?

    [quote]Not sure if blogging to show photographers and giving credit and links back to the site is a problem. Based on reading it over and consulting with others, it likely is not. I hope to hear back to better understand their position.[quote]
    I agree with this 100%!

  6. May 25, 2010 at 10:28 am —

    This was my understanding as well Jodi. After speaking to an employee in corporate with Old Navy and was informed that promoting their store and sending clients their way to purchase their clothing was a good thing. As long as profit isn’t being made on their images and not trying to resell clothing with their image (like ebay or such I assume) then it isn’t an issue.

  7. Tanya
    May 25, 2010 at 10:25 am —

    No worries, just wanted to give a ‘head’s up’ to the potential issue. I know there has been lengthy discussions elsewhere on this exact topic 🙂 I wish they would allow it!

    “The Sites and the Contents are intended solely for personal, non-commercial use. You may download or copy the Contents and other downloadable materials displayed on the Sites for your personal use only. You may not reproduce (except as noted above), publish, transmit, distribute, display, modify, create derivative works from, sell or exploit in any way any of the Contents or the Sites.”

    What I take from that is that it isn’t permissable. At least for me to post on my site (same as licensed music) because I would definitely be using it for commercial purposes. If you hear different, definitely let me know!

  8. May 25, 2010 at 10:06 am —


    Thank you for expressing your concern. I have read the TOU of each site and contacted the companies and asked if they want their images displayed in this way. I asked them to contact me immediately if they do not. I have not heard back. Basically from what I read, I cannot use the images to resell clothing in a commercial capacity. Not sure if blogging to show photographers and giving credit and links back to the site is a problem. Based on reading it over and consulting with others, it likely is not. I hope to hear back to better understand their position.

    If any company prefers I pull this post or their images from it, I will do so immediately.

  9. Tanya
    May 25, 2010 at 9:47 am —

    Just a reminder to everyone that using images from Old Navy, Gap, etc is in violation of their TOS. As adament as we photographers are about our copyright, we should respect others as well!

  10. May 25, 2010 at 9:22 am —

    OMG! I am always telling people this is a visual business but it never occurred to me to make so flippin easy for the clients by posting pics of what to wear!! it is way better than “granimals” ;p thank you!

  11. May 25, 2010 at 9:14 am —

    Thanks Kelsey (and Jodi!) for a great post! and for introducing me to a few new clothing lines…most of the ones you listed I recommend to clients, but Heritage 81 & Zazzle are two I hadn’t heard of. I also like certain kids clothing lines on Etsy but since they are custom they often take longer to order. I am also wishing to steer clients toward a more eclectic look, and worked with a Matilda Jane rep to do a photo session recently and feature that clothing line. It takes time, and convincing for clients but the images are worth it~ you do beautiful work! ~m

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What to Wear: How to Dress Children for a Portrait Session