If you’re like many women, you have a mortal fear of prints. You look in your closet and what greets you? A sea of solid colors. There’s not a print in sight except for the striped button down you bought (but rarely wear) and an old animal print/floral/plaid/geometric sweater you’ve had since the 1990’s.
It’s not because you only love solids. It’s more that buying a print seems like a good idea at the time, but weeks, months and even years go by and it rarely, if ever, makes it out of your closet. You like the idea of wearing a print, but every time you put one on you feel out of sorts, overwhelmed or too obvious. Animal prints feel too trendy. Geometrics feel hard, and florals remind you of your third grade teacher.
So, with a sigh, it’s back to basics and solid colors.
But…and it’s a big but…you feel like you’re missing out. Your wardrobe feels predictable and limited. You know there has to be a perfect print for you, but finding it has proven to be a very expensive enterprise—too many items sit unworn in your closet.
Let me put your mind at ease. It’s not your imagination that choosing a print involves a bit of sifting and sorting—there are plenty of wacky prints out there. Last season I decided that designers had run out of ideas when they introduced patchwork animal print as a trend. Yikes! Really? I’ve always been a fan of animal print, but as soon as you put it in a garment with florals and plaids, it’s downright scary!
Prints can be your friend. They immediately add visual interest and spice up an otherwise mundane look. But…
It’s all about finding the right prints for you.
So get ready, because you’re about to learn how to choose a print that makes your heart sing and looks great on you!
2 Steps to Choosing the Perfect Print for You:
The two most important components to consider when choosing a print are color and personality:
- Color – the predominant color (at least) needs to be one of your best. If the print you are considering has orange, olive green and a speck of purple, but you look terrible (or just so-so) in orange and olive green while the purple is your best color, don’t buy it! That little speck of color cannot overcome the bad vibes of the orange and olive green.
- Personality – This element is arguably the most important. In the photos below I will share the women’s inner beauty words (the words that describe who they are deep down to their soul). Paying attention to who you are is a critical component in selecting a print (and your wardrobe, in general).
I could talk until I’m blue in the face about how if you have this color hair, this body shape and these personality traits, this print might look good on you, but it’s just talk. Seeing is believing and this conversation needs to be highly visual, so let’s keep going…
While the colors in this print are technically black and white, because the design is so small and delicate they actually look more like gray. As a result, the color seems washed out, too cool and simply blah in comparison to Jackie’s beautiful warm skin tone and rich colored hair.
Three of Jackie’s inner beauty words/phrases are ‘richly expressive,’ ‘playfully fun’ and ‘bound and determined.’ Look at the print she’s wearing. None of those is expressed in this print so it does nothing to support her natural beauty.
Here we have Jackie in black and white again, but this time more obvious distinction between the colors. In fact, the garment is repeating some of her natural colors – black of her hair, white of her teeth and red of her lips and cheeks. The overall design has more oomph (bound and determined!) and is richly expressive and the color combination and swirls of the design are playfully fun. (She also has great earrings to compliment the outfit, but I wanted you to see the print unadorned so you could see it has beauty all on its own.)
This pattern has the opposite problem from the one Jackie was wearing in her ‘before’ picture. While Jackie’s underwhelmed her, Jan’s completely overwhelms her with its frenetic bursts of color. Jan is ‘open-hearted’ and ‘grounded’—neither of which is reflected in this print. Add to that the fact that Jan’s coloring is relatively warm with her golden hair and peaches and cream skin and the predominantly cool colors of this print conflict with her natural coloring.
Ahhhh, here’s the open-hearted, grounded feel we want! The print is a soft floral as opposed to huge bursts of color. Even though the pattern of the flowers and leaves is fairly large, the colors are soft. The rich periwinkle of the background brings out her eyes and the warmth of the green leaves and soft turquoise flowers reflects Jan’s ‘snazzily creative’ nature.
Meryl’s natural coloring has more high contrast than Jan. Her medium light skin and dark hair mean she can wear more striking contrast in her prints as well. But that alone would not be enough if Meryl was someone who was, for example, ‘dreamy’ and ‘quietly gracious.’ In contrast, however, two of Meryl’s inner beauty words are ‘powerful’ and ‘quick.’ This print has that feel. While it’s still a floral, the sharper distinction between the colors and vibrant outlines of the pattern give it a very lively intense feeling without overwhelming Meryl’s petite frame. And, the simple, elegant design of the dress speaks to the ‘graciously classic’ part of her nature.
What about you? Do you need a softer print like Jan or more intensity like Jackie and Meryl. What about color? When you exam prints already in your closet or what you see in the stores, are you choosing colors that suit your natural coloring? If you are unsure, you will find more information about four easy-to-wear colors in this blog post.
What prints naturally appeal to you? If you are genuinely joyful and fun, polka dots might appeal to you. Have a little fire or feistiness in your personality? Animal prints or zigzags might be the answer. Quiet and luminous? Your prints will reflect that – maybe soft tone-on-tone paisley or watercolor florals.
There is no end to the combinations that can work, but it can also be overwhelming to walk around a store surrounded by prints with no clue as to how to approach them. With these two guides you will be surprised by how much more success you have!
[Need some help? Set up a free 20-minute call with Ginger to find out how she can support you either through one of her private programs or in her virtual coaching program.]
Note: All garments pictured here are vegan-friendly (made from fabrics that did not harm any animals).
Photo credits: Meri Bond Photography and Johnson Photography