Here’s the thing. Prints have always been in style. In fact, we’ve moved on to fashionistas telling us to mix and match floral prints with polka dots, stripes with checks, and the list goes on.
However, open up any girl’s closet and you’d generally find 80% of their wardrobe comprises solid colours and only 20% are prints and patterns. This may partly be due to work attire making up most of their wardrobe, but I also think it is because of the association that prints have with potential frumpiness (largely due to not wearing them appropriately).
Fret not! Prints and patterns add a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ to your outfit and will help you stand out wherever you go! Contrary to popular belief, prints add a youthful touch to your wardrobe and help in making you appear more amiable.
So, with Chinese New Year fast approaching, this is a perfect excuse to spice up your lunar wardrobe with some interesting printed dresses. With some knowledge of your body shape and how visual illusions work, you will be itching to expand your style in no time!
Your body shape
Here are some common female body shapes and how to style them accordingly:
How do you utilise prints and patterns?
A general goal in dressing well is to select clothing with design lines that accentuate and balance your shape. Prints and patterns can be used to highlight and emphasise the parts of your body that you consider to be flattering.
From left: Wendy, Tiffany and Conine.
From left: Conine, Tiffany and Wendy.
Below are some ideas for you to ponder upon when selecting a garment.
1. Hide and conceal
Create balance by adding prints to areas you wish to accentuate. If you have narrower shoulders, you could wear more printed tops. You can thereby draw attention away from a particular area you intend to hide by wearing prints in the opposing direction.
If you have a larger bust line, conceal by adding diagonal patterns towards the waist – as shown on Tiffany’s red and beige dress. The optical illusion of the diagonal flowers will create a more slender shape.
If hips are your problem area, then darker colours will do the trick of hiding and minimising the lower half of your body. With an added intricate embroidery on your upper torso, your dress simply shouts “look up!” and you will immediately look 25cm taller!
2. Distract and divert
Let’s say you have larger upper arms that you prefer covered up. You can utilise prints and colours to divert people’s gaze elsewhere.
The black and green dress that Connie has on, not only serves to cover her arms, but the emerald embroidery adds interest to her outfit, and visually pulls the eye to the middle.
If you have areas of concern below the waist, then some lovely prints on your upper torso or a see-through mesh material will do the trick to divert attention to the shoulders.
3. Enhance and emphasise
We all know that placing a dominant pattern on the bust, waist, stomach, hip or rear end, draws attention and enhances that body region.
In the case of Tiffany, where her body is quite straight, the prints on her yellow dress adds volume, thus making her upper body appear more curvy. The added flare on the bottom of her A-line dress does a perfect job in giving her an hourglass silhouette.
Prints and patterns that have repetitive positive features, shapes or attributes, is one of the best kept secrets of stylists to enhance a person’s appearance tremendously. If you have wavy hair, then flowery patterns and circular designs which mimic the shape of the curls of your hair would look great on you.
4. Size-up and scale
As our eyes travel between prints, do take note that in order to appear harmonious, the size of a pattern needs to be in proportion . Do note that size is relative what appears medium on one person may appear smaller or larger on someone else. In general, small and medium-sized patterns work well on a small or medium-sized body.
Larger scale patterns may overwhelm a petite-sized person, whereas small, widely-spaced patterns may cause a large figure to appear even larger.
So, for the year 2016, shy away from prints no more! Once we begin to embrace the way we are created, we can dress in harmony with our appearance!
And remember, when selecting your design lines, one must also take into consideration one’s age, lifestyle and personal style. Bolder, stronger patterns on a dress – as seen on Tiffany’s yellow dress or Connie’s black outfit, depict stronger, resilient personalities.
Something that is more flowery will say that you are feminine, demure and ladylike. Matured women can choose large patterns, whereas young girls may opt for floral or other smaller prints. But whoever you are, there will always be a perfect dress for you. So, let us all celebrate CNY in style!
Wendy Lee is president of MABIC (Malaysian Association of Brand & Image Consultants) and a director of BII (Brand Image International Institute). She is a firm believer that with style… there must be substance! To engage Wendy for personal branding and grooming in your organisation, email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more Image Matters, click here.