How to Wear Prints and Patterns by Joanna

Tuesday, May 01, 2012
Hi! I'm Joanna from ModaMama. I've posted here before on how to wear polka dots. But, today I'm talking prints!

Prints can be a great way to have some sartorial fun, but for many they can be challenging as well. The most important thing to remember is to have fun! Prints are cheery and often full of energy, so embrace that attitude and just go for it. Figuring out how to choose prints and how to put them together can be daunting. Here's a few quick tips to get you started.

Be honest with yourself and true to your body. Let's put all our body issues aside and look at ourselves squarely and honestly. What's your body? What are your best features? Your worst?

If your hips are what you dislike most, stay away from prints that enlarge or draw attention to that area like horizontal stripes across the hips. Think you have a large bust? Stay away from those same horizontals across the bust. They make things look larger. On the other hand, if you have larger hips and a smaller bust, as many women do, put horizontal stripes across your bust to balance things out. It's a great way to play with optical illusions! I do it all the time since my bust is, well...let's leave that little thing alone, shall we?

So, look honestly at what certain prints do and see how they affect the appearance of your body. Where is the eye drawn to? Is it the look you want to achieve or not?

Fun thing to think about:   the optical illusion caused by chevrons and diagonals is very flattering to a lot of figures since it's more complicated than simple stripes. And, chevrons are hot!

Size matters. Consider the size of the print in relation to you. Since I'm very slim, I tend to opt for medium to small prints. Medium to small prints that aren't too busy seem to look good universally on everyone. It's almost like a no-brainer. A really large print, however, tends to make me look frail and childish - it just seems to overwhelm me. On the flip side, I find that a very large print, on a large figure is also not so good. It tends to enlarge the figure and look a little frumpy. I think a really large print works on the middle of the road woman - not too petite and not too voluptuous - but, just right.

Mix it up. Mixing prints is a really fun way to make something unexpected. It can seem daunting at first, but really it's pretty simple when you break it down. Try to stick to similar sizes and not go to extremes by mixing very small with very large.

Finally, stay in a similar color palette. Once you get more comfortable and confident with what you're doing, you can try something that is a bit riskier or more sartorially avant garde, but, when starting off, I suggest staying within similar color families.

Now go on and try it out. If you don't want to buy it, try it out in the fitting room. Pair it with some different things and see if it works. If something really catches your eye and you really like it, give it a go! It might work for you and it might not, but, whatever, it's just clothes and it's supposed to be fun.

I've never worn animal print...ever. But, when I saw this vest, I knew I loved it. It was a bit of a challenge to step outside my comfort zone, but, oh, so much fun! That's what it's all about in the end. Clothes are supposed to be fun, playful, and creative play. Don't stress out about it too much. If you make some bad choices and end up looking less than glamorous, don't worry about it. It happens to everyone! And, hey, it's not like you post pictures of your bad choices on the internet for the world to see...unless you're me, that is.

P.S. More tips on how to mix patterns and how to play with colors and patterns


  1. Great tips and suggestions here.
    Thanks for sharing them.


  2. fashioningfaithMay 1, 2012 at 2:05 PM

    Love this kind of post.. thank you! And to Joanna, you're uber stylish :) Keep inspiring!

  3. bridgetfossedalMay 1, 2012 at 6:10 PM

    yes! well said: the most important thing is to have fun. i think the world would be a much more sartorially exciting place if everyone would abide by that rule. xo.

  4. Great tip! I have a rather large bottom area and I know I don't want anything making it look bigger :D Thank you for sharing and I am heading over to your actual blog as we speak :)