How To Get More Style Points with Prints

As a stylist, I hear many women share the challenges of getting dressed. More often than not, each of them feels as though they are the only ones who cannot make heads or tails out of their clothing. The first thing I share with them after they share their frustration is that they are not alone. To be quite frank, I would not have a job as a stylist if these women were so few and far between. Most women feel as though no matter how many items of clothing they purchase, repetition ultimately sets in.

How many of you play SCRABBLE? If you play a lot or a little, I’m sure you have been disappointed with too many consonants or too many vowels on your tile rack. It’s very difficult to create words without the proper mix of consonants and vowels. Sure, there are those who will stumble upon “myth,” “sync,” and “shy,” but a great wordsmith can leverage those consonants to come up with “rhythms” and “nymphs,” “sylph,” and “pygmy.” And for the vowel heavy? How about “audio,” “aerie,” or “luau?”

My point of using SCRABBLE as a comparison to a wardrobe is that solids and prints are a lot like vowels and consonants. Too many of either will send you back shopping where you continue to purchase blindly, hoping for a winning combination.

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Separates are the building blocks for great style, but make sure you are staying in sync with finding a balance between solid separates and the print separates. While the one-and-done dresses may cover the simplicity, don’t shy away from separates. These are the pieces that hold the value in your overall wardrobe simply because they can be reconfigured a number of ways to create infinite looks. Each time you add a new separate to your wardrobe, multiple new outfits are waiting to be created.

Most of us fall into either a print-heavy or solid-dominating habit of purchasing clothing. It’s certainly possible to break through the boundaries of “muscle memory” shopping; generally speaking, the women who have cracked the code on flipping their print equation are few and far between. I can quite confidently attest to never walking into a closet to find only print pants. We all have solid separates for our lower half, but the real magic happens by introducing a print on the bottom.

Earlier this week Celeste walked us through how to wear patterned pants; not so coincidental that those in the know understand the importance of flipping the equation. I’m sure there are a few rule breakers out there who have embraced debunking the mixing prints myth. While I love the fashion fearless print mixers, be careful to not overdo this look, either as it, too, can get repetitive.

Imagine having a nice rhythm to your outfit rotation. The thought behind this may seem daunting but I’m here to break down the process. After wearing a solid top and print bottom, try wearing a print blouse the next day, or perhaps even a print dress. If you were to start keeping track of just one thing this fall, start thinking how you use prints. Be cognizant of how you are moving them around day to day. Maybe introduce a small journal to document outfits, or use your phone and keep your print vs. solid history in a folder chronologically. Even the addition of a print scarf, as we discussed last week, brings immediate value to your solid pieces.

Don’t forget to keep your shoes in the print rotation, too. A print shoe will definitely punctuate an outfit made up of only solids.


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Alicia was born and raised in Alexandria, and married a local boy. She is happily married and the mother of two amazing children and one adorable and terribly smart border terrier named Dixie. Alicia has always known she was a creative. She collected editions of Vogue from junior high on and has always loved clothing and design. She studied interior design at VCU and parlayed that degree into commercial interior design, the web design, and ultimately found herself managing a local boutique and serving as a stylist to many Alexandrian women. She now has a successful full-time styling business, The Tulle Box, and makes it her business to make her clients feel great about themselves and the way they look.

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