One thing you’ve probably noticed, particularly if you’ve been a long time reader of my blog, is that it’s not often that I add a bit of print into the mix. Having made a concerted effort to simplify and strip back my wardrobe – not only to make getting ready in the morning 10x easier, but to also strengthen and define my personal style – there hasn’t been much room for prints in the classic wardrobe that I’ve spent years building.
So, how do you add print to an otherwise classic wardrobe, without detracting from your personal style? Firstly, the focus has to be on finding the right print for you, which is versatile, and works within your style guidelines. Over the years, you’ll have noticed a handful of prints which have been in heavy rotation; polka dots, stripes, and more recently, a bit of gingham and houndstooth. With a wardrobe that is is grounded in basic staples in a fairly neutral colour palette, my focus has been on complementing that with prints, in a way that is fun (and that will hopefully also become staples that I’ll want to reach for in the seasons to come!).
For example, a couple of the things I like about the houndstooth skirt I’m wearing above is the architectural tie at the waist which acts as a focal point for the piece in addition to adding a bit of whimsy, the asymmetrical hemline, and the tightness of the print – the latter of which is one of the keys to making it such a subtle complement to my existing wardrobe.
I’ve had my fair share of hits and misses when it comes to building my wardrobe – overall – but below are the four rules that I apply when deciding if a print will work with the current contents of my closet…
IS THIS A TREND PIECE?
In an age of Instagram, there seems to be a constant stream of new trends to try and add to your closet. I try to be pretty selective about which trends to incorporate into my closet, and try to focus on styles which have a timeless appeal to them that I can see lasting more than a month or two. Same rule applies to prints – go for the ones which are less focused on a seasonal trend, as not only will they be less likely to date, but unlike a bold print, they won’t feel ‘tired’ after a few wears.
CAN YOU WEAR IT AT LEAST THREE WAYS?
As with any new purchase, one of the best ways to predict its longevity – and whether you’re going to actually reach for it – is if you can imagine wearing it in at least three different outfits. Or even better, five outfits. The more versatile it is, the more classic it’s likely to be, and again, the more staying power it will have. Prints might have a reputation for being bold, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t prints out there which will stand the test of time.
DOES THIS FIT YOUR LIFESTYLE & WHEN WILL YOU WEAR IT?
It’s so easy to get swept up in the magic of buying something new, that you can forget to stop and think, ‘does this actually fit my lifestyle?’. While an ikat printed playsuit might seem like a great complement to your wardrobe in theory, is this something that you’re likely to only wear on vacation or is it an item that you can see yourself reaching for more than once a week? Perhaps the biggest change to my own closet the last two years has been acknowledging that a large proportion of my previous wardrobe didn’t accurately reflect my lifestyle, since I stopped working in a corporate office. The same goes for prints – know when you’re likely to wear them, and add them to your wardrobe accordingly. For me, I like simple more subdued patterns for everyday, and love the idea of a bolder print for summer weekends and tropical holidays.
DO I WANT IT TO BE A FOCAL POINT OF MY OUTFIT, OR A SUBTLE COMPLEMENT?
Finally, the last thing I like to consider is whether the print works best as a focal point of my outfit or more of a complement. Printed dresses and jumpsuits might be easier to throw on as they’re a total outfit in themselves, but they’re less likely to get as much mileage as a printed top or skirt, or a fun accessory like a pouch or a pair of shoes (such as these leopard-print sandals). I tend to opt for printed separates so that I can tone them down with a block colour – it’s a much softer introduction to print, and it can make them a lot easier to wear.
Do you have any prints that have become classic staples in your wardrobe?