Picking prints for our wardrobes provides nearly endless opportunity to find connection points. And then the prints themselves become links to connect our solid garments into dynamite outfits. But because prints are very engaging in a retail setting, we often react to them based on emotion rather than artistic insight. The results can easily be a look that is totally disconnected from the wearer, and very little mix/match in her closet.
How can you tell if a print is optimal for you? Ask yourelf this question: “Does this print make people see ME more clearly, or does focus go predominantly to the print itself?”
Test yourself first with the pictures below – what looks best on this model and what is less pleasing? What factors make you feel that way?
Here are some guidelines for evaluating your print choices:
- Look at the print from a distance to be sure its over-all temperature matches your own. Just a touch of gold, orange or lime green can substantially warm an otherwise cool print. Oddly, it doesn’t work in the reverse. You can add cool touches to a warm print all you want, but the overall look stubbornly stays warm. The far-left print above is too warm for the model, among other problems.
- Reds are especially critical; if a print includes shades of the red family that are not your best, you’ll be stuck for makeup when you wear the garment. You can either match your lipstick and blush to the print colors – which won’t flatter you – or wear your correct makeup shades and clash with your outfit. In the far-right example, the bits of red are mid-cool and fairly deep, compatible with her coloring and in fact a close match to her flattering lipstick choice.
- Watch contrast levels carefully. If the light/dark contrast within the print is greater than the light/dark contrast in your face, then it’s too much. Yes, that means black-and-white prints don’t work well for most people. Softer people need comparably soft, blended prints. The middle print above illustrates this problem perfectly; the bright white motifs make the fabric’s contrast too extreme even for this models strong coloring. And the trio of celebrities below make the point even more strongly.
- Avoid whites that grab more than their share of attention. The “white” in a print often looks more intense than it really is because of the surrounding colors.
- Look for prints that include a touch of your hair color. If your hair is multi-colored, find prints that echo its variegated effect and you’ll create an immediate visual connection between the print and you. That link is even stronger if the shapes in the print echo the textural aspect of your hair.
- The print above repeats the model’s hair color and texture, her eye color, her mid-temperture and medium contrast levels and her overall muted look – one of my all time favorite client + print match-ups.
Tell us about the best — and the worst — prints you found in your own closet (or your fabric collection, if you are one of my sewing enthusiast readers). And join us next week for more insights on print selection.