The Key to Making Patterns and Prints Work for Your Shape

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Janet Sahm Easter
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Key-to-print so-for-your-body

This season is chock-full of trendy prints such as floralsstripes, and gingham. Prints and patterns not only give an outfit a shot of personality, but they also have the ability to complement your beautiful body shape and provide proportion.

To start, it’s best to know the basics of what prints do visually. Much like how it's known that black is universally slimming, patterns play with the perceived volume of the thing they're on. General guidelines: Large prints and horizontal stripes increase volume, whereas small prints and vertical stripes decrease volume.

With this simple knowledge, you’ll have an easier time shopping (and cleaning out your closet) for what prints and patterns work best for your body. Below, we’ve shared a few examples for outfit inspiration, as well as pretty shopping selections to add to your wardrobe. Oh, and did we mention that stripes and florals totally go together?

IF YOU HAVE WIDER HIPS//

prints-hips

1. Warehouse, $39 / 2. Oasis, $62 / 3. Mango, $30 / 4. Oasis, $65 / 5. Joe Fresh, $19 / 6. Oasis, $65 / Image via Girl with Curves

Proportionally, if your hips are wider than your bust, you generally have a pear shape. If you are going to wear a pattern on the bottom, it’s best to keep the motif small, like polka dots. To help balance your wider hips, you can wear:

- A brighter, larger-patterned top

- A classic horizontal-striped shirt

- A patterned top paired with a solid dark-wash jean or skirt

IF YOU HAVE A LARGER BUST//

prints-topheavy

1. ModCloth, $60 / 2. ModCloth (coming soon), $60 / 3. Boden, $66 /4. ModCloth, $55 / 5. Oasis, $74 / 6. Topshop, $105 / Image via GabiFresh

If your bust is proportionally larger than your hips, and you consider yourself “top-heavy,” then you’re an apple shape. This means you want to balance your top by highlighting your hips. You can achieve this with:

- Brighter, larger-patterned bottoms (whether skirt or pants) with a solid-colored top

- Horizontal-striped skirts that give the illusion of balance

- A small or tiny print, if you are going to wear a patterned top

IF YOU’RE LONG & TALL//

prints-tall

1. Boden, $138 / 2. Warehouse, $75 / 3. Oasis, $97 / 4. Oasis, $62 / 5. Zara, $50 / 6. Topshop, $90 / Image via Anthropologie

If you’ve been graced with the gift of height, it’s time to embrace prints. For those who are curvy and tall or straight and tall, keep these tips in mind:

- Wear larger prints, such as a floral maxi dress or a skirt with an oversized gingham pattern

- If you’d rather not wear head-to-toe prints, break it up by wearing just a large-printed top or printed bottom

- Small prints can work for you as well, but try them in a bold, allover look like a midi or maxi dress or even cute slacks (Any clothing item that's smaller, like a top or skirt, may appear too proportionally small)

IF YOU’RE SHORT & PETITE//

prints-petite

1. Boden, $148 / 2. Oasis, $65 / 3. Boden, $68 / 4. Boden, $78 / 5. H&M, $10 / 6. Dorothy Perkins, $55 / Image via Extra Petite

If you’re on the petite and shorter side, large prints can overwhelm your proportions. It’s best to:

- Stick to smaller patterns and prints, like mini polka dots and thin stripes

- Try vertical-striped tops to elongate your form

- Incorporate prints with accessories, like a fitted jacket or scarf