How to wear prints—the ultimate guide

Prints are always in fashion—come rain or shine. But for some, it can be difficult to know what goes with what. There’s also the fear that some prints could look old fashioned or frumpy… that nightmare of looking like a walking cushion or bedcover. What about combining prints—is that possible? Nobody wants to be an eyesore, so read on for some simple basics on prints.

©Alena Mozhjer_shutterstock 

Prints for everyone

Prints can really look nice on anyone and everyone. Maybe you’ve given up trying and are stuck with plain, block, solid colors. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Petite, medium or large body frames call for different types of prints. For example, if you are looking for a plus size dress, vertical rather than horizontal stripes would work better. It’s all a question of balance.

Size and proportion

It’s essential to get the size and proportion of the print right from the outset. Those of us with small or petite frames should be wearing garments with small-scale prints. Medium frames should go with medium-sized prints and larger frames should turn to larger prints. This advice also applies to any accessories, such as jewelry, too.

Be clever with contrast

The prints you wear should complement your complexion and beauty, rather than highlight any problem areas. If you have naturally low-contrast coloring (e.g. light blonde hair and fair skin) wear a low-contrast print. Likewise, if you have high-contrast coloring (e.g. black hair and fair skin, wear high-contrast prints. If you are somewhere in between, then go for the medium-contrast prints.

Perfect pairing

It’s a good idea to pair prints with garments in a neutral hue—cream or white for example. Try pairing the printed item with another item in the print’s main background color. So, if you have a plus size dress with red flowers on a pink background, try a light pink blouse or top and shoes.  Or use the print’s accent color in the other garment.

Where to wear prints

Wear prints where you want to accentuate and keep everything plain if you need to disguise a particular area. So, if you are larger on the bottom half of your body, wear the prints on the top half of the body. Printed tops can actually help to disguise a small or large chest. If you have large hips, make sure no large prints are hanging around on those areas.

All mixed up

It is of course possible and highly trendy (although scary!) to mix and match different types of print. To start out, combine different prints of the same color and size. That way the effect is more balanced. You can also try to break up some different prints with solid colors.  But what type of prints could you mix?

  • Stripes: timeless and chic
  • Dots: polka dots pair easily with every color, choose the right scale for you
  • Florals: possible all-year-rounders, but especially spring and summer
  • Geometrics: abstract shapes such as lines, circles, triangles, rectangles, polygons…
  • Graphic/Abstract: unrecognizable forms and motifs
  • Animal/Skin: animal faces, animal skins such as snake, alligator, zebra, leopard 


If you are still not sure about incorporating prints and patterns into your everyday clothing, don’t worry. How about simply beginning and trying it out with some smaller items? Combine a scarf with a catchy floral print together with that suit for work. How about some blue polka dot shoes with light blue jeans and a T-shirt?  There’s also a huge range of fashionable printed bags in all sizes to suit every occasion, plus the purses to match.

So, take the plunge this season and have some fun with prints!

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