25 Apr 2018
April 25, 2018

How to Wear Prints & Patterns

Spring and summer fashion brought numerous prints and patterns. You may be overlooking their beauty and creativity or dismissing them as too complicated to wear. Let’s address the artistry in patterns first.

An artist designed every pattern or print you see in clothing. He or she manipulates color, scale, and repetition as they design the fabrics that will be made into garments. Those artists may be influenced by history, nature, architecture, the art world, or other cultures.

CATTLEYA Carlisle Style #117817

Add the perfect feminine touch to outfits with a long silk scarf in a Japanese-inspired Cattleya orchid print for understated glamour.

As a consumer of fashion, you get to adorn yourself in a print that suits your personality or sensibility. There are so many to choose from; you really can find one that resonates with you.

Some people hesitate wearing prints because it seems difficult or mysterious. Yet wearing them can be so pleasing to you. Let us answer a few questions about prints so you can start wearing them with confidence. We’ll also show you some prints and patterns that you’ll find in the spring/summer Carlisle & Etcetera collections (scroll down).

How would I begin to choose one pattern to wear when there are so many to choose from?

If you have coffee table books at home, you’ve already got a great resource for figuring out what you love and then spotting it in a print. They could be on any topic such as modern art, country or cottage living, art history, specific decades like the 1930s, 40s, 50s or 60s, flowers, gardens from around the world, pop art, etc.

Sit down and study the pages of your coffee table books. Let the images soak in. When you go shopping next, you’ll be quick to notice prints that represent an interest of yours. Pick some out and try them on. There’s a lot of pleasure in wearing something that already has meaning to you.

The spring and summer collections, both Carlisle and Etcetera are full of lovely patterns, from floral to stripes and paisley to checks. A great way to determine a pattern or print that suits you is to come by the studio and try them on; we’ll help you decide.

POSY Carlisle Style #115930

Pique cotton-blend midi dress has a box pleat hem for a flared shape, exquisite garden print for head-turning style. It will make any event memorable with vines of morning glory daylilies, freesia, and enchanting hummingbirds. Breathtaking and loads of fun!

SITGES Carlisle Style #514831

Stretch cotton pencil skirt whittles away the silhouette with a geometric print in contrasting vertical and horizontal panels. Easy to wear, too, with a deep back vent.

OAHU Etcetera Sylte #215881

This satin maxi dress will dominate summer with its mesmerizing paisley print in tropical colors and the unique contrast border.

CHESS Etcetera Style #215863

This easy summer sheath dress has elegant chain link check, colorblock detailing, dot lace and fringe trim. A fun way to mix the same pattern.

Can petites, or those of a shorter stature, wear large patterns?

Traditionally it’s been said that petite or women that are shorter in stature, should wear small prints. We disagree with that. Clothing always has to be in the right proportion but within that proportion can exist a patterned skirt or top that is larger scale if the woman has large-scale features (eyes, nose, mouth), a  booming personality, or is a rule-breaker by nature.

Is there a bold print for everyone?

Not necessarily. However, we have had clients who never thought that they could wear a bold print and then when we had them try some on, they absolutely fell in love with the look. So be adventurous. You may think you know what will work best but prepare to be surprised.

How do I wear two different stripes in the same outfit?

The scale of the stripes should be a bit different in each garment. The outfit below is a perfect example of how mixing stripes can work beautifully. The amount of the white space and the tiny pink stripe in the pant adds to why this pairing looks so amazing.

HEIRESS Carlisle Cardigan Style #310845 | HEIRESS Shell Style # 310846 | AMALFI Pant Style #309836

Cool your look with a cardigan sweater with variegated vertical stripes in a lovely shade of zinnia pink. Although perfect alone, you can also layer it over the matching sweater tank like we’ve done here. The AMALFI pant is made from a beautiful fabric that fits the body perfectly. Soft and drapey, this tapered-leg must-have is woven in Carlisle’s trademark windowpane plaid pattern with the tiniest pink stripe.

How do I choose the right leopard print?

Start with the color. You may already know whether it’s more flattering for you to wear cool colors or warm colors. With that knowledge as your guide, look for a leopard print that follows the same formula. A leopard print could be in shades of gray and black, which would be great for someone with cooler coloring. A leopard print in camel and chocolate brown would better serve someone with warm coloring.

SERENGETI Etcetera Style #215566

Take a walk on the wild side with this animal printed sueded lyocell shirtdress. Worn as a topper or a dress makes it so versatile

Can I mix a floral print with a plaid?

Yes, but be sure they share one color in common. When both prints share a shade of blue, that blue is the glue that makes them pair well together. Perhaps there’s a yellow-green in a floral print and a darker yellow-green in a plaid. Even though the yellow-greens aren’t matching, it’s close enough to make it work.

What do I do to keep prints from looking too busy?

Add an accessory in a bold color like a bold gold necklace or stack of solid colored bangles to give the eye something to look at besides the pattern. Another thing that works when wearing two garments in different prints is to add a belt. A thin or wide belt separating prints helps ground your outfit.

GRAND PRIX Etcetera Style #215900 | DYNAMO Style #205859

Break up a print or pattern with a solid color jacket as you see above where the DYNAMO cropped stretch linen jacket in tulip red is the perfect focal point for GRAND PRIX. Grand Prix is a sweater knit sheath dress with rich stripes of varied textures, plus open pointelle for breezy comfort.

UNCHARTED Ecetera Style #215910

Uncharted is a reverse matelassé bustier dress with optional straps for chic summer evenings. The jacquard of oversize hibiscus and camellias are a soft and subtle pattern.

WAIKIKI Etcetera Style #215890

This knit gored dress is in a brilliant tropical print. The mesh inset neck, Ottoman rib details, and a banded jacquard empire waist has already quieted down the floral pattern for you. No alternate focal point is necessary with this dress; it’s built in.

Can someone who is shy mix patterns?

Absolutely! Wear prints that have plenty of white space or black space. A cluttered print may be way too busy for you. Look for patterns that are subtler. But do remember to mix the scale of the prints. You still need one to be larger than the other. You can make many lovely, sophisticated mixes focusing on a soft palette rather than a bright one.

EDELWEISS Carlisle Style #115590

Feminine and flirty, this floral jacquard knit dress sports an A-line skirt and a chic pastel color scheme that is subtle and soft.


MAGNOLIAS Etcetera Style #209786

Soft, subtle florals infuse these stretch cotton twill garment-washed jeans with super stretch for an unparalleled fit.

Why bother mixing prints and patterns?

It’s a way to really own your look. You won’t find anyone looking like you. Also, it’s a way to be artistic without paints, canvases, and sketches! You’ve taken the artistry provided by the creators of these patterns to the next level where you then create your own individual art through the magic of your combinations.

We highly encourage you to make friends with prints and patterns this season. They really can bring you so much joy. We’d love to help you collect a handful of prints that truly work for you. We’re just a phone call away!

Below are several more prints and patterns you’ll find in the Carlisle and Etcetera Spring & Summer Collections.

REEF Carlisle Style #509874

The watercolor print trend is making waves everywhere and is just right for the season. This abstract geometric/floral version transforms a luxurious silk double georgette jogger into a work of art.

CORFU Carlisle Style #114933 | Style #112933

These pieces are made from boldly colorful geometric and floral rows of lace, and they have a breezy retro resort feel.

SEAPORT Etcetera Style #215588

Here we have subtle tone-on-tone floral and animal print patterns combined to create a look that’s exciting yet classic on this jacquard knit dress that also sports a mix of lace. The mixing and matching of patterns and textures are already done for you.

VINES Etcetera Skirt Style #214511 | ADA Blouse Style #212796

Here is a beautiful example of subtle patterns, prints, and textures mixing beautifully. The VINES skirt adds a touch of natural sophistication to any look with a straight silhouette that sports a pretty, decorative vine embroidered motif. ADA – Strips of lace panels and flirty belled cuffs lend an undeniably feminine feel to this chic blouse trimmed with dot crochet lace.

CANDY Carlisle Style #309929 | UPBEAT Style #310864

These easy print pants are crafted in luxurious silk double georgette. The sophisticated abstract print is given sporty undertones with the solid side panels in flamingo pink. These side panels draw the eye away from the print and create interest. The UPBEAT knit top adds texture with the airy pointelle sleeves and chic pleated peplum hem. Another beautiful mix of both pattern and texture.

ANGUILLA Etcetera Style #209888 | CURACAO Blouse Style #212905

Nothing says summer like colorful head to toe print satin. The sleeveless top has a print border that matches the pants motif, in turn, borrowed from the colorful tiles of Lisbon.

We love a good pattern and hope you’ll embrace some of these effortless and modern examples of mixing pattern and texture.