From dainty florals to ethnic and animal, we are certainly spoilt for choice this summer when it comes to wearing print. The traditional rules of pairing print with neutral fabric have been thrown out of the window in recent years. It is now perfectly acceptable and very cool to wear your prints with prints. Don’t try to match them, just experiment with what you have. If it feels right then go for it! Please note however that this bold way of wearing print will only work well for you if you feel confident in a dramatic, statement outfit and can “own” the look.

If you are worried that too much print will overwhelm you, it probably will. This blog is for you. It will help you recognise what to look for in a print so that you feel confident that you are wearing it well rather than have it wearing you.

Pattern worn in the wrong way can:

• Make you look bigger

• Draw attention to parts of your body that you would rather hide

• Overwhelm you

Pattern worn in the right way can:

• Re-balance your figure

• Add interest to your outfit

• Look fabulous!


The five key mistakes that people make when wearing print


1. Too much or too little contrast

Whether you suit a contrasting print or a tonal one depends on your colouring. Do you have highly  contrasting hair and skin tone? Perhaps your hair is much darker than your skin tone? Do you have bright sparkly eyes? If you do then you are very likely to suit a print with dark and light tones mixed together.

If your hair, skin tone and eye colour are similar to each other you are likely to suit a softer print so opt for something with soft tones.

Charlie crinkle dress with soft print

A softly contrasting print. Emily and Fin, Charlie Crinkle dress

Amara Coat

A highly contrasting print. Hobbs Amara coat.












2. Choosing the wrong size for your scale

If you are tall and/or above average weight and have heavy bones, you will look great in a larger print. If you are petite a large print will overwhelm you and you will look good in a smaller, more delicate one. If you are fairly averaged sized, look for medium sized prints.

Your preferred clothing style will also have a bearing on the size of print that suits you. When I work with clients on a one to one basis, I am able to be very specific about the size of print that will work best but it is complicated to calculate and I won’t try to do so here! Broadly speaking, if your style is very classic or girly you might try taking your print size down a little and if your style is dramatic or natural try a slightly bigger one.

It’s worth noting that not everyone suits prints. If your style is very classic you are probably happier in flat blocks of neutral colour and that’s fine too!

Nougat Carla Print Dress Madder

Large scale print. Nougat, Carla Print Dress Madder.


Pale Blue Spotty Dress

Small scale print. Hobbs Pale Blue Spotty Dress.










3. Choosing the wrong shape

Your bone structure is likely to be predominantly straight or predominantly curved. Indicators are your jaw line, your shoulder line, your waist, the tops of your limbs and your hips. If your bone structure is curved, a swirly print is very flattering and if it is straight boned try a geometric one. This may be contrary to what you have read in fashion magazines or seen on TV make-over shows but I firmly believe it to be true. Give it a go!


Jemma Dress

Stripes and geometric shapes suit straight bone structures. Hobbs Gemma dress.


Lucy Bicycle Dress

Curved shaped prints flatter curvy figures. Lucy bicycle dress by Emily and Fin.












4. Choosing the wrong type of print for your style

The clothing style that suits you depends on many things and a professional image consultant can help you to determine what your best combination of styles is. This will further guide you as to the range of patterns that you can wear well. For example, if you suit a very classic style you will feel safer and look better in flat block of neutral colours . At a push a stripe may work for you.

If you like to follow fashion or enjoy making a statement with your clothes then you will suit pattern and bolder the better.

If your style is very girly and feminine or romantic try polka dots and floral prints.

If you look and feel your best in casual clothes and an “undone” style then try wearing paisley, checks or an ethnic print.

When you wear a style that isn’t authentic to you, it doesn’t matter whether the colours, size and shape are correct, the overall look won’t be quite look or feel right.


Lucille Bikini Top

Stripes. Bravissimo Lucille bikini

Betty Bikini Top

Girly style, polka dots. Betty bikini by Cleo












5. Wearing too much print at once

Start slowly if you are new to wearing print and feel  a little nervous. Try a patterned shoe or a scarf or handbag.

Introduce pattern into your wardrobe in a small way to see how it feels for you. Choose printed fabrics on simple shaped clothes because an unusual shape and a pattern might be a step too far for you to being with.

polka dot silk wool scarf

Start with patterned accessories. White Silk Wool Scarf Jo Jo Boutique


Pointed Toe Leopard Print Heel

Try a patterned shoe for starters Paul Green Pointed Toe Leopard Print Heel











Experiment with all five factors above to help you to determine the best patterns for you. Do let me know if and when you try this out. I’d love to hear about your success (… and disasters!).


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