For some, wearing bold prints is second-nature and is a consistent feature of any outfit. For others, outfits that are more minimalistic and composed of neutral pieces are more comfortable to wear. However, there are plenty of ways that you can incorporate prints into a minimalist wardrobe while ensuring you still feel comfortable in your ensemble.
From styling leopard print pumps for work to embracing Afro chic clothing, read on for ways that you can wear prints when you have a minimalist wardrobe.
1. Start with your accessories
The easiest way to start incorporating bolder prints into your neutral wardrobe is by switching up your accessories. Items such as printed heels, snakeskin booties, a skinny animal print belt, or a bold printed clutch bring a pop of print that can be balanced out by the rest of your neutral outfit.
For example, a pair of leopard print flats can be worn casually on the weekend when paired with high-waisted black denim, a white blouse, a black bag, and simple jewellery. Additionally, these can be worn with dresses, skirts, or more formal pants for the office.
If the idea of wearing printed shoes is still a little intimidating, try wearing a printed barrette in your hair or some printed earrings. You could even ask for a print-inspired manicure next time you get your nails done. Once you start wearing a tiny bit of print, you are guaranteed to start to feel more comfortable and take it to the next level.
2. Focus on timeless prints
There are plenty of different types of prints with some earning their status as a “classic,” including gingham, polka dots, stripes, and florals. These prints are timeless and can be worn over and over again without you getting bored with them.
Polka dots work for almost every article of clothing, from dresses to skirts, hats to bags. Plus, they also look fabulous in all colourways (including neutral colours such as black and white), making it easy to find a polka-dot piece that you love and that works with your wardrobe.
Additionally, you can find polka dot garments coming in all shapes and sizes. Generally, the smaller the polka dots, the more sophisticated an item while larger dots look more playful.
Floral prints are elegant and feminine, thanks to their nod to nature. Similar to polka dots, you can find floral prints in a range of colours and designs, meaning you can always find a floral pattern that is right for you.
Usually, when wearing floral prints, you want to ensure that the entire look is balanced and that the floral print is the main focus. For example, when wearing a floral print dress, you should keep your accessories and shoes simple.
3. Opt for printed pants or a skirt
If you want more print than what can be found in an accessory but also aren’t ready to go for a full printed ensemble (such as a dress or suit), then you want to opt for printed pants or a skirt as these can be balanced with a neutral blouse or sweater.
Plaid or gingham prints are ideal in this scenario because they can be paired with a variety of neutral tops and can also easily transition into workwear.
That being said, there are plenty of other printed bottoms that can be worn for work – it generally depends on the material of the clothing and the colour scheme. For example, a pair of tailored floral pants in navy blue or black can look incredibly chic when paired with a tucked-in blouse and heels.
No matter what type of print you are wearing on your bottom half, you may find it challenging to know what works on the top half. If you are new to wearing prints, then your most straightforward option is to choose a solid top in a similar shade as that of your pants.
Then, as you become more comfortable wearing prints, you can begin to play around with colour combinations and even double-up on your prints.
4. Broaden your print horizons
Once you have started to open your eyes to the many ways that prints can be styled into a minimal wardrobe, you will begin to realise that you have plenty of opportunities to combine patterns with neutrals. At this point, you can broaden your print horizons and look for new ways to wear and style them.
African tribal clothing is filled with beautiful prints that can be worn per your own personal style. One of the easiest ways to incorporate these prints into your wardrobe is by purchasing a tribal print dress or jumpsuit that can be worn on its own with simple accessories. These items come in a range of designs and colours so you can shop around until you find the right piece for you.
Other current print trends include tie-dye, dalmatian spots, tropical prints, paisley, and checkerboard. While these prints are definitely more trendy than your classic florals and stripes, they also can work well to bring a pop of fun to your neutral ensembles.
5. Utilize the five-outfit rule
Before you purchase a printed item, you want to make sure you are considering how it will work with other items in your existing closet.
One of the most effective ways to do this is to visualise five outfits that the printed item would work with featuring pieces that you already own. After all, you don’t want to buy a printed piece that you love and then realise you have nothing to pair it with.
That being said, there may be some exceptions to this rule. For example, there may be some printed pieces that are special enough that you are happy to have them stand on their own (such as an African tribal print dress). This is a full outfit on its own; all you have to do is put on your shoes.
Are you a print lover, or do you prefer to keep things neutral? What do you think are some of the best ways to start incorporating prints into your wardrobe? Which prints do you think are the most versatile?
Let us know your thoughts and any additional tips in the comments below!
Ethiopian-born and Dubai-based fashion designer Feiruza Mudessir discovered her curiosity to mix the traditional with contemporary at a young age, and this has become the trademark of her designs for Finchitua today. With her unique style standpoint, she served the VIP Color Forecast Panel 2017 for Al Jazeera Paints Company and VIP Color Forecast Panel 2019 for Asian Paints Berger. Ms. Mudessir is a shortlisted nominee for the prestigious Fashion Scout London 2018.