You may have noticed a trend for minimalism when it comes to colours and prints, particularly in the last few years and in the online fashion community. And whilst I’m all for simplifying your wardrobe and making it easier to get dressed in the morning, prints and bright colours aren’t the devil. Quite the opposite in fact – done right they can form a key part of your wardrobe, and also add emotive elements to your style, helping you to feel great in the clothes that you’re wearing.
But how do you make sure that the print you’re adding to your wardrobe will help you to create a closet that works for you, is adaptable, flexible and fun? In the last few years I’ve added a handful of prints to my wardrobe, and assessed over time which have become staples and which have fallen to the back of the closet. Through this process, I’ve come up with a set of rules I apply when print and pattern choosing. They have helped me understand that for me, leopard print done right (like this Coach Wild Beasts bag) can pretty much be a neutral, and palm print will be worn over and over (and over), while other printed styles, not so much. Apply the following rules to find out what works for you and your wardrobe.
Six Rules For Adding Prints To Your Wardrobe
Assess before you buy
The biggest mistake you can make in the quest for the perfect wardrobe is to buy things willy nilly and on a whim. But you guys know that right? I’m all for seeing something I like, and taking a little while to think about what I’m getting. When buying prints, it’s particularly important to take a moment and don’t get swept up on a whim – they’re the things that are going to be hardest to integrate into your wardrobe day to day.
Think about when you’ll wear it
Prints generally act as key statement pieces in your wardrobe – that floral skirt you love hopping into on holidays or those ikat shorts that work so well on the weekend. Because if this, understanding when and how you will wear a printed piece is key to having a wardrobe that works for you. In my experience prints are suited to fun times where you can experiment – weekends, holidays, Hawaiian office parties (:)), but it’s up to you to decide where prints suit your lifestyle the most.
Pick your item type carefully
A printed dress or romper will be easier to wear because you won’t have to match it with anything, but will also be suited to less occasions because they’ll be harder to dress up and down. On the other hand, small printed pieces like separates will have greater versatility. Down the minimalist end, printed accessories are great for experimenting, pair a printed accessory with a a neutral outfit like I have here.
Understand whether it’s a classic or a trend print
As with any style, some prints stay in fashion, while others are more are trend lead and and reflect a certain moment in style. What you want to do is fill your wardrobe with classic prints that rarely go out of style – for me that’s simple leopard prints, floral prints and plaids. Other prints may be a reflection of the current trends that due to their specific-ness as a point in time will date more quickly, and these are the ones you want to be careful about.
Decipher the colours within the print
The key to buying prints that fit seamlessly into your wardobe is to pick ones that will be easy for you to wear. Ok duh. While there are many factors that relate to this in relation to shape and fit of a garment, I’ve noticed that the colours within a print affect how often I will wear it more than anything else. I’ve learnt to pair prints with block colours, and because I wear mainly neutral block colours like white, black, navy and denim, choosing prints with simple palettes and backgrounds, I’ve managed to get a serious amount of wear out of certain prints I’ve bought. These shorts have been worn over and over – the white background means they can be paired with anything, this printed dot top suits all my neutral separates, and this leopard bag (above) with its black undertones also pairs well with most of my closet. When in doubt, go for simple palettes that pair well with other items in your closet.
Pair it with 4 outfits
As always, before you slap your plastic on the table (or count out your small change) to buy your new printed piece, make sure you actually have other keystone items to wear it with by creating 4 outfits in your head before committing. This will a) have you on your way to wearing it in no time b) tell you if there is a thing you need and c) warn you if you have nothing to wear it with.
A great option for experimenting with prints is to hit your local thrift store and buy some to try out. I love vintage prints!
Q: Do you have any go to prints that have become like neutrals to you? Or do you struggle when it comes to prints?
Photos by Bryant Lee. This post is in collaboration with Coach.