Prints Please!

I am often asked “Can I wear prints?” or sometimes I’m even told “I know I don’t suit prints”. The fact is that everyone can look good in prints, but you do need to understand some basic rules to make flattering choices.  Let’s take a look at what these are:

 Size and Contrast

The size of print should reflect your scale, particularly if worn all over. If you are statuesque a large print will be most flattering whereas a petite woman will look better in a small print. Generally speaking, if a print is larger than the palm of your hand, it may be too big. I say may be because the level of contrast between the print and the background colour can make a print appear larger or smaller.  A low contrast print is more restful and doesn’t draw attention to itself (or you!) as compared to a high contrast print.  The higher the contrast, the larger the print will appear and vice versa.

Low contrast print versus high contrast print – same style of Boden dress

Prints to highlight or distract

Prints can be a good way of drawing attention to a part of your body that you’re proud of but are also great for disguising lumps and bumps.

Basically a sparse print (ie one where there is lots of space between each print) draws attention to that part of the body because it allows the eye to rest between prints, whereas a dense print (where there is very little background) will confuse the eye and prevent it focusing. So, if you’re trying to make a part of your body look smaller or disguise a few lumps and bumps a dense print is a good option, whereas a high contrast sparse print is a great choice for those parts of your body you want to draw attention to.

Types of print

Checks and geometrics tend to work particularly well on straighter body shapes, whereas florals  look good on curvier shapes. Abstracts, animal prints and spots will work on most people.

Stripes are particularly good for balancing out your figure. Triangles (or pear shapes) can use broad

stripes across their top half, particularly from the bust up, to balance the shoulders and hips. Of course vertical stripes are excellent for lengthening the torso, an easy fix if you’re looking for those extra inches. Beware vertical stripes in stretchy fabrics though as the stripes get distorted by your natural curves and can make you look bigger.

Animal prints have become a classic. The more traditional brown toned leopard prints tend to be high density and low-contrast so can be particularly forgiving and easy to wear.

Spots never really go out of style but are very much on-trend at the moment. They are also surprisingly easy to mix with other prints. Go for a preppy look by adding stripes or try a floral print of similar scale and colour for an interesting combination.

There really is a print for everyone, so if you’ve not ventured out of block colours yet, why not give one a go?