Prints are everywhere this spring. But will those daisies look prettier on the fields than on your skirt? Are those rich paisleys better suited for your kaftan rug than for a maxi dress? Yes, there are more prints to choose from than ever before: snakeskins, birds, florals, palm trees, polka dots, stripes, and much more. They are fun and just as designers had hoped, new splashy prints give shoppers a reason to buy something they don’t already have in their closet. But beware – just because it’s an eye-catching pattern doesn’t mean it’ll look great as your dress. The interesting part is that most of us have fallen for these prints before. Maybe we don’t remember because we tore up all the photos. Let’s try to remember from those horrid print mistakes.
Small, Clustered Patterns
Oh, yes, how I regret wearing a jumpsuit with a small floral print to my eight grade band banquet (yes, you heard right). In the one surviving photo I have, the jumpsuit looks like a cute little curtain. The problem with a small floral print is that clustered prints make everyone look old. That goes for small, clustered polka dots, too.
Accessory and Print Overload
Cindy Lauper pulled it off and so did Pat Benatar — layers and layers of necklaces paired with wild prints. It only works for rock stars. For the rest of us, accessorizing a print outfit means keeping jewelry to a minimum. The jewelry you choose works best when you contrast it to your current look. For example, if you are considering romantic florals, avoid pearl accessories. Try a gunmetal cuff bracelet or an edgy leather belt.
Choose Fabrics Wisely
Patterns may be wild, but be careful in investing in textured fabrics. My mom custom made me a suit in 1975 for my first commercial airplane ride. The heavy fabric also had a large brown print. Needless to say, there are no surviving photos of this thing. Lesson learned: steer clear of heavy prints in heavy fabrics. If you are going for a daring print, say birds, for example, you’re better off wearing the print in an airy silk blouse than a heavier cotton.
Balance Colors and Prints
Contrary to what fashion houses will have you think, there is such as thing as too much color. Neon shoes will not have staying power in your closet. Ditch the super bright accessories if you already are sporting bold prints. Choose a tan purse or nude sandals if you’re outfit is already taking center stage.
Finally, balance prints and limit them to specific areas. Be careful not to don a print that stretches across voluptuous areas. Depending on your figure, that would mean avoid stripes across the bust, floral pants with prints that stretch across the hips or derriere – you get the picture.
Your safest bet with regard to patterns is to go for a large, sophisticated print. Large flowers, large abstract prints (so long as they don’t overlap all over the fabric) are extremely fresh. Patterns that have a good bit of space between the prints are flattering and do not make you look large. If you are considering polka dots, a good bit of space between each dot (no matter what size the dot is) makes the pattern more pleasing to the eye and less dominant on the figure.
For those fearful of looking like a 70’s disaster, a good route to take would be selecting prints in soft, watercolor designs. These patterns tend to be in translucent pastels, creating a subtle print. You can’t go wrong!
Ready For Just a Touch of Patterns
If you’re just starting to experiment with prints, you may want to start out with accessories. It’s easiest to sport a pattern on a large cuff bracelet: a python cuff bracelet against a khaki dress or a polka dot belt with a white skirt. A paisley scarf in a bold orange and yellow worn in the hair, belted, or tied loosely around the neck can make an outfit pop. Prints also have made their way to shoes – the only warning here is that the rest of your outfit should be classic and simple.
Have fun with all the eye-popping prints this spring!