How to Wear Prints and Patterns

How to Wear Prints and Patterns

Spring fashion brought numerous prints and patterns. You may be overlooking their beauty and creativity or dismissing them as too complicated to wear. Let’s address the artistry in patterns first.


An artist designed every pattern or print you see in clothing. He or she manipulates color, scale, and repetition as they design the fabrics that will be made into garments. Those artists may be influenced by history, nature, architecture, the art world, or other cultures.


As a consumer of fashion, you get to adorn yourself in a print that suits your personality or sensibility. There are so many to choose from; you really can find one that resonates with you.


Some people hesitate wearing prints because it seems difficult or mysterious. Yet wearing them can be so pleasing to you. Let me answer a few questions about prints so you can start wearing them with confidence.


How would I begin to choose one pattern to wear when there are so many to choose from?

If you have coffee table books at home you’ve already got a great resource for figuring out what you love and then spotting it in a print. They could be on any topic such as modern art, country or cottage living, art history, specific decades like the 1930s, 40s, 50s or 60s, flowers, gardens from around the world, pop art, etc.


Sit down and study the pages of your coffee table books. Let the images soak in. When you go shopping next, you’ll be quick to notice prints that represent an interest of yours. Pick some out and try them on. There’s a lot of pleasure wearing something that already has meaning to you.


Can petites wear large patterns?

Traditionally it’s been said that petite women should wear small prints. I disagree with that. Clothing always has to be in the right proportion but within that proportion can exist a patterned skirt or top that is larger scale if the woman has large-scale features (eyes, nose, mouth), a booming personality, or is a rule-breaker by nature.


Is there a bold print for everyone?

Not necessarily. However, I have had clients who never thought they could wear a bold print and then when I had them try some on, they absolutely fell in love with the look. So be adventurous. You may think you know what will work best but prepare to be surprised.


How do I wear two different stripes in the same outfit?

As an example, consider wearing a stripe combo this way: Pair a narrow blue striped oxford shirt with a wide-leg paper bag waist pant in large navy and powder blue stripes. The scales of the stripes are different in each. That difference is what makes mixing stripes successful.


How do I choose the right leopard print?

Start with the color. You may already know whether it’s more flattering for you to wear cool colors or warm colors. With that knowledge as your guide, look for a leopard print that follows that same formula. A leopard print could be in shades of gray and black, which would be great for someone with cooler coloring. A leopard print in camel and chocolate brown would better serve someone with warm coloring.


Can I mix a floral print with a plaid?

Yes, but be sure they share one color in common. When both prints share a shade of blue, that blue is the glue that makes them pair well together. Perhaps there’s a yellow green in a floral print and a darker yellow-green in a plaid. Even though the yellow-greens aren’t matching, it’s close enough to make it work.


What do I do to keep prints from looking too busy?

Add an accessory in a bold color like a bold gold necklace or a stack of solid colored bangles to give the eye something to look at besides the pattern. Another thing that works when wearing two garments in different prints is to add a belt. A thin or wide belt separating prints helps ground your outfit.


Can an introvert mix patterns?

Absolutely! Wear prints that have plenty of white space or black space. A cluttered print may be way too busy for you. Look for patterns that are subtler. But do remember to mix the scale of the prints. You still need one to be larger than the other. You can make many lovely, sophisticated mixes focusing on a soft palette rather than a bright one.


Why bother mixing prints and patterns?

It’s a way to really own your look. You won’t find anyone looking like you. Also, it’s a way to be artistic without paints, canvases, and sketches! You’ve taken the artistry provided by the creators of these patterns to the next level where you then create your own individual art through the magic of your combinations.


I highly encourage you to make friends with prints and patterns this season. They really can bring you so much joy. I’d love to help you collect a handful of prints that truly work for you. I’m just a phone call away!

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