What's the Deal with Prints and Patterns?

Dec 13 2018 0 Comments


 Now,not to brag, but I find that I am pretty savvy when it comes to fashion terminology. I know what surplice means, what a placket is, and the difference between pointelle and marled knits. Recently though, I've been informed, very kindly, that I've been mixing up prints and patterns. I know, I was shocked too. For those of us interested in the ins and outs of fashion, its a good thing to know the difference. I mean, imagine if you were having tea with Karl Lagerfeld and mixed them up?! Major fashion faux pas! Okay, I might be the only person who imagines taking high tea with Uncle Karl--I mean I always wonder how he keeps Choupette's fur off his all black wardrobe (that's his cat for those of you wondering). Point is, if you consider yourself a fashion-o-file knowing your stuff is just as important as wearing it. 

  Here's the thing, even in the fashion world there seems to be a debate on what the difference really is. While doing my research, (yes, I did research, I take this very seriously) I found that there are two definitions commonly used when discussing prints and patterns. The more base level explanation I came across concluded that patterns are repeating geometric designs, while prints are less organized and more abstract. Think polka dots and stripes versus floral or paisley. Seems easy when its written in print, but I found that this explanation is sort of disputed between industry types and actual fabric designers. People who really know  their fabrics claim that a pattern encompasses all repeated designs that are either printed on top of a fabric, or woven into it. Prints, in all actuality,  are technically patterns not woven into fabrics, but applied through a dyeing process, or by actually printing (think screen and digital prints) on top. I know confusing, but bear with me here, apparently an easy way to tell is that a print will only be on top, so if you flip the fabric over it will be blank on the other side. There you have it, according to multiple google searches, all prints are technically patterns, but all patterns are not necessarily prints.   

  There is a reason why certain prints and patterns stand the test of time--you can count on them to be wearable for any outfit and almost any season. Polka dots and stripes are your best friends when it comes to a "safe" pattern to wear top or bottom. They look chic in almost any silhouette and style. Let's not forget about animal print; easily one of the most "wearable" more wild patterns and considered a neutral by the fashion savvy. When Meryl Streep scoffed "Florals? For Spring? Groundbreaking", in The Devil Wears Prada I don't think she meant they were out of fashion. I mean, how could she considering they are one of the most popular patterns of all time? It might not be revolutionary, but if stripes and polka dots are you best friends, florals are that pretty acquaintance who reads poetry and radiates kindness. Plaid and houndstooth have been around for hundreds of years, and they still look current in the right silhouette. Typically applied to more weighty fabrics, they are, usually, more appropriate for fall or winter. Their good friend gingham, on the other hand, is the perfect accent to any spring/summer look. There are plenty more I could mention, but these are like your starter pack set of the perfect wardrobe staples. 

  Say it with me ladies: you have the privilege, nay, the right to mix your prints and patterns! I mean, at some point its going to be laundry day and all you'll have left is a striped skirt and floral blouse just begging to be worn together. All joking aside, mixing your patterns and prints is actually the pinnacle of fashion acumen. We tend to see it pop up on the runway and on the trendiest fashion influencers. Now, there are a few rules to follow if you want to look put together and not like you actually forgot to do your laundry. Rule numero uno: keep the palette tonally cohesive. In layman's terms, the colors need to be complimentary or come from the same family. Rule number two: keep your patterns and prints from competing by allowing one of them to be the star of the show, while the other a bit quieter. In other words, if your skirt has a loud print, maybe keep the top a little more subdued. The easiest pattern to achieve this with is animal print. Because it is so neutral, it tends to blend perfectly with other prints. Silky animal print skirts are huge right now, and a great piece to buy if you want to experiment with print mixing. Rule number three: don't follow any rules! Be a fashion rebel and wear whatever the hell you want to wear! If you want to adorn your body with big, bright purple polka dots on the bottom and large yellow blooms on top, go right ahead. Honestly, the confidence you wear an outfit with make it a showstopper.  

   Hopefully this little blog has taught you something new and fun to add to your fashion repertoire. Remember, its not about how many "fashion" words you know, its about how fabulous your outfit is! Go ahead and mingle your prints and your patterns up as much as you can! Maybe, you'll look as radiant as the girl does above in her fantastically blended outfit! 


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