square patterned bw dress-3

The Fatal Allure of Prints

 
I am drawn to prints of all varieties — stripes, bold graphics, florals, abstracts. But the reality is, printed dresses are not a sound investment:

  • they can look dated quickly;
  • they present a definite look, but only one look — which can’t be changed easily with accessories;
  • they can overwhelm the person wearing them . . . and sometimes bystanders, too.

After giving away more printed garments than I care to count, I have realized that prints, with a few exceptions, work best in small doses. So I now indulge my love of prints in blouses and scarves. (The same principle is generally recognized in interior design, too. Don’t put a large print on the sofa. Put it on a chair or a throw pillow.)

I still admire printed dresses, but I generally don’t buy them.

I love you, but I can't do this

I love you, Mary Katrantzou, but I can’t do this

Like all rules, however, there are exceptions: If you see a print that simultaneously fills you with intense longing and calms your tortured soul, well, you must bring it home to live with you. Just don’t try to convince yourself that you are making a practical choice.

Irresistible print

Irresistible print

Irresistible print dress

Irresistible print dress


 

This dress defies the physical laws of the universe. Despite the busy, large print, it is timeless and slimming.

And it has pockets!

Have I deluded myself again?

Have I deluded myself again?

Of course, if you open your closet and see a rainbow of printed dresses that have brought you nothing but happiness, IGNORE THIS POST; you have already solved the mysteries of life and business casual dressing and don’t need my advice.

But if you are trying to hold firm and resist the allure of print dresses, perhaps one of these blouses will satisfy your cravings:

Vince Tribal Dot Silk Blouse

Vince Tribal Dot Silk Blouse

Theory Floral Print Vaneese Cami

Theory Floral Print Vaneese Cami

JCrew Aquatic Flower Sleeveless Silk Blouse

JCrew Aquatic Flower Sleeveless Silk Blouse

Rebecca Taylor Tie Dye Top

Rebecca Taylor Tie Dye Top

Brogue print dress: Mary Katrantzou from Matches Fashion SS2014; Abstract floral print dress: David Meister; Shoes: Tory Burch; Bag: YSL; Watch: Baume et Mercier

Tops: Vince Tribal Dot Silk Blouse would be perfect with a khaki suit (possibly with a white jersey underneath) OR with a khaki safari jacket and jeans; Theory Floral Print Vaneese Cami would look pretty under a sheer white linen blouse; JCrew Aquatic Flower Sleeveless Silk Blouse would look great with a navy pinstripe suit OR with a blue seersucker jacket and white jeans; Rebecca Taylor Tie Dye Top could enliven a grey or blue suit!

UPDATE September 28, 2015: For my further thoughts on patterned prints, see Casual Friday: Vintage Floral Modernized and Auntie Mame Returns.

4 thoughts on “The Fatal Allure of Prints

  1. Just discovered your blog and am finding it quite enjoyable. I’m a 50-something attorney, practicing in a small Midwestern city, with a dress code of business casual. Please keep the advice, tips, etc. coming.

  2. How do you feel about printed skirts for a pop of fun? I have one in particular that looks like your black and white dress above that I love wearing with a black cami and bright green cardigan.

    • Erin — I feel great about a printed skirt with a colorful sweater or top! I also have a fondness for florals/abstract florals with stripes. Depending on the colors and pattern of your skirt, perhaps a horizontally striped top (narrow stripes) would look good with it, too. Thank you for reading!

But what do you think?