Skip to content

Taming a Too-Large Print

Print garments can be exciting additions to our wardrobes, but they can easily take over the entire look, leaving the individual woman pretty much out of the picture.  This bold tropical print shell is a perfect example.  It’s colors make a lot of sense in my wardrobe, but it can easily become too much of a good thing and overpower me entirely.  Here are some tips to remedy that situation when it pops up on your own wardrobe:

  • Worn solo (far left), the print is too bold and the hemline makes an extremely widening horizontal line right at a spot I’d prefer not to emphasize.
  • My first “fix” was to tuck a bit of the hemline into the skirt waistband, creating a soft drape that breaks up the print and simultaneously making a more flattering diagonal hemline.  Better, but still not ideal.
  • Adding the blush cardigan leaves a lot less of the print exposed — showcasing the colors but not the motifs — and creates a strong center-front vertical design emphasis instead of the jarring horizontal.  Works for me!
  • When I tried it with the red jacket, even with the side tuck, the top still showed below the jacket hem.  That’s a cute trendy look on a younger, trimmer gal, but for me it just felt sloppy.  I tucked the top entirely into the skirt, bloused it a bit for comfort and balance, and now it works great.  Side note:  My short-waisted figure won’t accommodate a tucked-in top without an overlayer jacket or cardigan.
  • This combo was an accidental discovery – just hadn’t hung up clothes for a while and when I did, I noticed that this green cardigan blended wonderfully with the print too.  In this case the cardigan was long enough to cover the un-tucked shell.
  • Notice that in these examples the print works as a “link” in the same way that I often use scarves to connect unexpected color combinations.
  • The off-white elements in the print are an invitation to pair this top and its over-layer options with off-white denim bottoms when the is weather warm.  And of course I can sub black pants for the black skirt+tights seen here — a total of 9 outfits built around one new top.

How can you make more – and more flattering – use of the prints hanging in your closet?








About Nancy Nix Rice

I help other women feel confident about how they look every day - regardless of their age, budget, lifestyle or the size tag in their pants - so they put wardrobe concerns on the back burner and go share their gifts with the world.


  1. Karen Dorman on July 31, 2019 at 9:49 pm

    Hi Nancy,

    Thank you for this highly informative and richly illustrated article. I agree with your comment about the print shell: “the hemline makes an extremely widening horizontal line right at a spot I’d prefer not to emphasize.” What I’m curious about is that the red and green cardigans also seem to create a bit of a horizontal line near that same spot, but they are not at all unflattering. In fact, the ensembles seem quite slimming. Is that because the open cardigans break up that horizontal line? Or is there an exact unflattering line, and 2 inches above or below make all the difference?

    Thanks much.
    Karen D.

    • Nancy Nix Rice on August 10, 2019 at 10:20 am

      You are exactly right – the vertical gap between thr center fronts of the over-layer completely counter-balance the hemline horizontal. That’s why I am such a fan of over-layers and use them in virtually every outfit I wear personally. When I wear a single-layer top I try to make sure it has color value continuity with the bottom garment and ideally also an asymetrical hemline.

Leave a Comment

Scroll To Top