What to Wear for Fall Family Pictures | Kara Chappell Photography | Fall Styling Tips


Fall on Whidbey Island may be a bit gray, but there is so much beauty to be found in the Pacific Northwest this time of year. First of all, gray is a lovely neutral background, so the families I document this time of year seem to pop a bit more out of the frame. You can also take advantage of one of the PNW’s most recognizable weather conditions - fog! If you’re up for a morning adventure session, the fog will add dimension, context, and a bit of mystery to your gallery.

When it comes to selecting the perfect photographer-approved and weather-appropriate outfits, I recommend the following advice to all my clients booking a fall family photo session on Whidbey Island:

  • Look for solid-colored clothing in deep jewel tones, and incorporate neutrals throughout.

  • Patterns should be subtle (no lumberjacks, please!), with no more than two outfits containing pattern.

  • Layer, layer, layer!

  • Shirts with subtle writing can be used in a layered look (best on boys).

  • The wind picks up in the fall, so consider braids or barrettes for longer hair.

  • Look for warmer fabrics with structure and details (wool, jersey, lined skirts).

  • Plan accordingly for the weather (tights for girls, sweaters for everyone, maybe even coats to warm up in between shots).

  • Accessorize with statement jewelry pieces, boots, and hats. Scarves are okay, but sometimes swallow up their subject.

Pumpkin Spice MOOD (BOARD)

Here’s a sample fall wardrobe for a family with mom and dad, an 8-10 year old boy, and twin 5-7 year old girls (p.s. I pulled this look from my easy-peezy online styling site!!):



  1. Mama - In the colder months, a dress might not keep you warm enough, but jeans or leggings aren’t gonna cut it either. Don’t get me wrong - I live in leggings and LOVE a good grandma sweater, but that’s an everyday look, and you want to elevate your wardrobe for your session (can I get an AMEN!). Try a long jumpsuit in a dark jewel tone, like this beautiful forest green. This jumper offers movement in the sleeves and pants and will photograph beautifully again a fall sky. A statement necklace (7) and a stylish bootie polish off this look. Throw in a sweater or shawl in case it gets cold or you want variety in your gallery.

  2. Dad - Dad will stay comfy and warm in a layered look, and odds are he has everything in his closet already. Try a dark tan or colored chino pant, with a t-shirt/sweater or button-down/sweater layering combo. Cool sneakers or a nice boot finish off the look. Try to avoid jeans and the go-to fall shirt (plaid) unless it’s a large plaid and doesn’t conflict with any of the other patterns. If dad is willing to incorporate a bit of “hipster-flair”, add suspenders, a cardigan, or a big knit hat to complete his look.

  3. Big Brother - Layers, clean classic colors, and a dark denim jean are going to make big bro the easiest one to dress. If he’ll go for a cardigan, try to find a tee with a bit of writing or design (no Captain America shirts, thank-you-very-much!). Don’t let brother wear athletic shoes to the session. Find a boot or a Converse sneaker. Suspenders or a slouchy knit hat would look great as well.

  4. Little Sis - Keep sis warm with a skirt over a textured, colored tight. A layered look on top starts with a sweet blouse with delicate details. Show her personality through her choice of a sweater, poncho, jean jacket, or fuzzy vest. If she gets cold easily you can even have her wear a long-underwear shirt underneath. Choose separates and add in patterns and color. Braid or barrette her hair so it’s not flying in her face too much. Try a Mary Jane shoe or an edgy bootie (6).

  5. Twin Sis - Let each kiddo’s personality come through in their clothes. If you have twins, try to avoid putting the same outfit on both (matchy-matchy clothing blends together when subjects are photographed next to each other). This beautiful, warm dress has texture and detail with the ruffle. Tights or leggings and a small gold necklace finish the look.

If you have no time to shop…

Look, I get it. I feel like someone flipped a switch and our lazy summer days turned into a full school/sports/activities schedule. And if you’re like me (and you’re probably not, because I’m weird), you don’t really want to go over the bridge and hunt for clothes for a bunch of people with very different tastes.

Luckily, you’ve got me! My online styling service (free to all of my clients) is super easy to use and literally lets you pick the perfect wardrobe while sitting on your couch. Just select the number of people in your family, a few colors you love, an overall vibe, and… VOILA! You will be served 20-30 options PER PERSON that you can view for inspiration or shop for directly online with one click.

The outfits will coordinate, are all reasonably priced, and best of all - are PHOTOGRAPHER APPROVED!!! There’s no pressure to buy, but it’s a great place to start. I also have a styling closet with around 50 pieces for girls ages 2-8, and women sizes 2-10 that are free to borrow for your session. I will send you ideas that I have as well, and I can even come to your house to help you put your final wardrobe together (and bring you a PSL, because, fall).

It couldn’t be easier.

Going, Going, Gone

If you’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest long, you know that fall can be unpredictable, typically leaning towards summer or winter. Last year I was shooting sessions into November, whereas this year the gray skies seemed to take over the first week of September (which is still “technically” summer here!). I try not to overbook my fall with sessions that need to be rescheduled if weather pops up, so I am alllllmost fully-booked for the year! I’m only taking sessions through October, and have 3-5 dates remaining for the year. So if you want family pictures this year, reach out as soon as possible! Otherwise I’ll see you in 2020 friend!

Once again this month I am so excited to share with you a super talented photographer from across the globe: Iana - the Aberdeen Family Photographer shares her post on why to book a mini session. She offers really fun harvest and holiday mini sessions - be sure to check out her post and follow the link she shares and so on, until you make it back here. It’s a great way to discover new talented photographers from around the world!