Just when you thought you were dressing out of your comfort zone by wearing more color, the fashion lords dare you to wear prints. And not ladylike florals or standard stripes, but explosive, artistic, humorous, statement-making prints.
By Maureen Mancini Amaturo
Just when you thought you were dressing out of your comfort zone by wearing more color, the fashion lords dare you to wear prints. And not ladylike florals or standard stripes, but explosive, artistic, humorous, statement-making prints. Your challenge is to create outfits that are fun, not dysfunctional. The world of prints can seem dangerous, loud, and Barnum & Bailey-esque for those of us with patternphobia. To avoid the question, “Who are you wearing, Emmett Kelly?” (You can look him up), check out the fine print on wearing prints.
• Start with a neutral or dark print. Try substituting a monochromatic print in the same color as your favorite solid top or pants.
• Try prints on shoes, handbag, and scarf first. Introduce one print into an otherwise solid outfit.
• The bigger the scale of print, the more you stand out. Going classic? Use smaller prints.
• If wearing prints on the bottom, wear a solid top in a neutral color like white, black, or beige — whichever neutral blends best with your print. Avoid strong-color tops with printed pants. Keep your top and shoes quiet, and let the print do the talking.
• A denim shirt over print pants or skirt is a great option to a neutral top. Wearing the shirt untucked can cover hips and tummy and relieve the self-conscious factor.
• Petite? Be careful when wearing mixed prints because too much print can seem overwhelming on a small frame.
• Opposite of petite? Bigger on top, try a print on the bottom only. Bigger on the bottom? Try a print on top only. Or choose prints for your accessories. Don’t shy away from prints. The right print on the right garment can work as a camouflage. The eye bounces around and doesn’t focus on one outstanding area. Experiment.
• Advice from www. boomerinas. com, “Does the pattern blend into one big whirl or can you see areas of background? If you can see background, make sure the placement of the pattern is flattering to your shape. And, if the pattern is near your face, make sure the background color is flattering to your complexion.”
• If you don’t trust your judgment, rely on the designers who have made a name for themselves with their A-game juggling of color and prints. To name a few: Anna Sui, Versace, Vivienne Westwood, and Betsey Johnson. Google their collections and see how the experts do it.
• Mixed prints done well have some sort of design element (usually a common color or background color) that ties them together. If you decide to go with black, white, and pink as your color scheme, mix prints that have only these three colors.
• Ease into mixed/multiple prints. Switch your solid black top for a black-and-white dot pattern. Add a second pattern to the mix, i.e., a black-and-white pin stripe. Third, add a monochromatic neutral pattern to those two, and you’ve got a three-print outfit.
• Mixed prints work well when one print is a traditional pattern, such as checks.
• Mix prints with a similar pattern in different sizes.
• Mix black and white prints.
• Choose one large-scale print as a focal point when you mix prints.
Prints of the Moment
• Ducks and birds
• Fun, child-like animals
• Checks in all sizes
• Constellation prints – stars, half-moons, planets, comets, suns
• Abstracts and Jackson Pollock
• Text – lettering, names (designer and others,) phrases.