Prints to Suit Your Size and Shape

There are many different prints to choose from, from florals to stripes, animal prints and paisleys to polka dots and plaids. In last month’s blog I examined the part your style personality plays in determining which types of prints you’re likely to be drawn to. This month I’m looking at how to choose prints that work well with your physical characteristics so that you look and feel your best.


Broadly speaking, you should aim to match your prints to your physical scale. Therefore, if you are petite and small boned, smaller prints will work best for you. Large prints wil overwhelm you, although if you have Dramatic style personality you may still want to wear them and will doubtless have the personality to carry them off. If you are tall and large framed though, bigger prints will work well with your scale.

Take a look at this Ebbinghaus illusion –  Which orange circle is larger?


The orange circle is in fact the same size in each but the illusion is created that one is larger than the other by the size of the grey circles surrounding the orange ones.  If we think of the grey circles representing a part of the body (say, the bosom) and the orange circle a print,  you can see that the print will look much larger on a small bosom than a large bosom. Likewise, a petite woman will be swamped by a large pattern and a large scale woman can appear bigger in a tiny print.

Body architecture

You will look your best in a print which reflects your body architecture. So, if you have a straight or angular body, stripes, checks and geometrics will work particularly well. A curvier body shape will generally look better in soft, curvy shapes such as florals, swirls and paisleys. Likewise, if you have curly hair, curvy prints will look particularly harmonious.

Because the size, placement and density of a print can be used to disguise or highlight various aspects of your body, prints are a great for balancing out your shape.


Print Density & Placement

The placement and density of a print can be used to disguise or highlight various aspects of your body and balance out your shape. Dense prints (ie those which show little background colour) are excellent for disguising lumps and bumps. This is because the eye does not settle as it roams across the print. Animal prints are particularly good for this. However, sparse prints (ie those with lots of background colour showing) slow the eye down and can make you look larger.  So, if  for example, you feel you are bottom heavy, wearing a sparse print on your top half will help to even you out.

If  you’re going with an attention-grabbing bold statement print or graphic, make sure it’s on a part of your body you are happy to draw attention to.

As a Soft, tonal neutrals work well for me

Print Colours

Naturally, you will look your best in prints in colours from your palette. In addition to the colours though, the overall level of contrast is also worth considering. Blended prints work particularly well on those with a Soft element to their colour palette, whereas those with a Clear element look particularly good in high contrast prints. For prints that only contain colours from within your palette, Kettlewell Colourss * is excellent. However, there’s really no need to get hung up on ensuring every colour in the print is perfect. What is important is the overall look. Aim for a print that where AT LEAST 50% of the colours are right and then pick out one  or two of the best colours for your accents – eg  bag, shoes, jewellery. If you can find a print with 70% or more of the right colours, you’re on to a winner.

Take this picture of me wearing leopard print. As a soft and warm the brown and caramel tones work well for me and I accessorise it with brown/rust which are both good colours for me. What you may not have noticed is that this dress also contains black, which is a definite no-no for me but it is insignificant in the overall look and therefore doesn’t matter.

I hope you’ve found this helpful. If you’d like to find out more about dressing to flatter your personality, scale, shape and proportions, do come and see me for a style consultation .

* I am a consultant for Kettlewell so please contact me if you would like advice on their colours and styles and to secure a discount.