How to Dress the Kids for School Picture Day

picturedayEvery year, photographers show up at schools across the nation to take a single studio shot of each and every student present. These pictures end up in school yearbooks and are often the snapshots that get passed out to extended family members and friends. While the school picture is renowned for being an annual glimpse of awkwardness in all its glory, that doesn’t mean you can’t try to mitigate any potential disasters with a bit of creative costuming. Before sending your child off to school in any old thing you can find, consider these tips for ensuring a great wardrobe for the event.

Consider the Color Palette

Most adults take a moment to think about the colors that best compliment their complexion and coloring before dressing for an event at which there’s sure to be a camera, and it pays to take the same approach with your kids’ school pictures. Some packages will offer the choice of a few background colors, while others will use the same backdrop for every student. Find out what colors your child’s school will be using, consider his coloring, then choose his shirt accordingly. Remember that his pants and shoes will not be visible in the photo, so focus on choosing the right shirt. As long as he matches and the pants are in good shape, let his shirt take center stage.

Don’t Choose Fashion Over Function

While it’s absolutely understandable to want a cute school picture, it’s also important to understand that an itchy, binding or otherwise uncomfortable outfit will spoil his entire day at school. Look for classic, timeless pieces that won’t be dated by the time he’s in college to avoid school photos that are inadvertently funny in a decade or so. On-trend clothing might make for a great picture this year, but trendy clothes tend to pass out of style as quickly as they came in, leaving a slew of awkward photos in their wake. Stick with the classics, and you’ll be less likely to cringe when trends change and that precious kindergarten picture becomes a time-capsule caricature of fleeting trends.

Consider School Uniforms and Dress Codes

No matter how high your expectations are for a school photo, you’ll need to keep school uniforms and rigid dress codes in mind. Your child will be expected to adhere to the same dress code that’s enforced every other day of the school year, so don’t get carried away or allow yourself to push the boundaries of uniforms. Play with the customization options available, but don’t stray too far or you may find yourself fielding a phone call from school administrators while your child is supposed to be having his picture taken.

Keep Accessories to a Minimum

A fashionable hat, a dazzling bow or a few hair clips might look great on your child’s way out the door, but unless school photos are taken before the first bell rings, there’s a good chance that they’ll end up bedraggled, repositioned incorrectly or missing altogether. Don’t get too fussy, or a small child will just remove the accessories that are bothering her without a second thought about her school photo.

Consider Kids’ Schedule and Habits

If pictures will be taken after lunch or gym class, you may want to consider sending a second set of clothes with your child to school on photo day. Food stains, sweat or splatters of tempera paint left over from a morning art class are sure to spoil an otherwise adorable picture, and a fresh set of clothing for a quick change may be just the thing to save the day. Make sure that your child understands when he should change, and that having a second set of clothes is not a free pass to destroy the ones he leaves the house wearing.

Depending upon the policy of your child’s school and that of the contracted photographers, your options may be a bit limited when it comes to dressing up for school photos. While you can make an effort to ensure a complimentary color palette and clean and wrinkle-free clothing, remember a happy child who is comfortable will light up the photograph no matter what he’s wearing.

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