After a dreary winter, fashion designers are printing big news — giant flowers, abstract graphics, artsy color blocks and fresh ginghams — and making the trend headlines. Yes, prints are having a huge moment this spring and summer.
But actually pulling off this popular trend can be a horror story, especially when it comes to mixing and matching totally different patterns. Here are some ways you can choose the right prints for the season ahead.
—Think proportion. If you're petite, then you may want to stick to smaller prints; larger sizes tend to look better in larger patterns. Unless you are a larger-than-life diva, beware of those huge chiffon ponchos covered with hothouse florals. You'll be blooming in the wind.
—Think contrast. If you do like bolder, bigger prints, then remember that subtle contrasts in color will be more complementary. Strong contrasts in color will definitely make more of a statement — just make sure it's the statement you want to be making.
—Think scale. Wider spaces mean wider places ... if you get my drift. Oversized prints like giant gingham squares on a light background will definitely give you a larger-than-life presence — and that can be good or bad. If you like the bold prints, stick to wearing one piece at a time, mixing it in with other solid pieces.
—Mix it up. One of the freshest trends this spring is mixing and matching prints and patterns. When it looks good, it looks great — otherwise try this new look with caution. Many designers give you plenty of direction in their collections. Follow their lead. Mixing stripes with florals can be tricky, but it has a very modern vibe when done right.
—Stick to a color palette. If you do like mixing prints, then there is one rule to follow that usually yields stylish results: Unify your pieces with similar colors. For example, mix blue and brown checks with blue and brown stripes. Ditto for florals. You can even mix several colors, just make sure they are generally in the same color family.
—Make prints work for you. Prints and patterns can also be used to accent your positive body features. If you're larger on top, then keep your prints below the waist. Bottom-heavy? Wear your patterns on top to distract from the lower part of your body.
—Spring wedding, anyone? All-over prints like pastel florals are especially popular in dresses right now, and they look best when worn in silhouettes that fit close to the body. There's nothing worse than a bad floral print that swallows you up from head to toe and looks like you borrowed the curtains for a day. And if that giant red rose is stretched a little too far across all the wrong places ... well, be sure to leave that one in the dressing room.
—Go for classics. Prints and patterns can become outdated fast. That color-blocked dress you wore to the cocktail party during the holidays will be memorable unless everyone had too many martinis. Include some classic prints that never go out of style — like polka dots, checks and stripes. These favorites will last in your wardrobe for years.
—Keep accessories to a minimum. If you're wearing a splashy floral top, chances are no one is going to notice the necklace you have on. Make sure the shoes, handbag and jewelry you wear complement the prints and patterns you have on ... not fight with them. Keep it simple. This season's fresh prints will make plenty of fashion news — all by themselves.
Sharon Mosley is a former fashion editor of the Arkansas Gazette in Little Rock and executive director of the Fashion Editors and Reporters Association. To find out more about Sharon Mosley and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.