Saturday 18 January 2020

How to wear... clashing prints

They may seem daunting, but this season's mismatched patterns make it simple to get clash-happy

Smart casual: Sharon Horgan
Smart casual: Sharon Horgan

Meadhbh McGrath

Nothing spells summer like a vibrant print, and this season we're so keen on them we're piling two or three together in one look.

Mixing prints used to be one of those hardline fashion 'don'ts', but once you've mastered the art of the clash, you can create a whole range of looks, from scene-stealing outfits to more subtle statements you could get away with at the office.

Dubbed "pattern blocking", the trend first emerged back in 2009, when London-based Mary Katrantzou experimented with trompe l'eoil prints in her debut collection. Since then, the Greek designer has shot to fame and stars like Sarah Jessica Parker, Alexa Chung and Keira Knightley are regularly spotted out and about in Katrantzou's clashing prints.

This season, prints ran riot on the runway at Michael Kors, Dries Van Noten and Prada.

One of the highlights from Saoirse Ronan's red carpet wardrobe during the 2016 awards season was a fabulously over-the-top Duro Olowu gown that stitched together eccentric floral prints, while Gigi Hadid was spotted out in New York this week clashing check trousers with a floaty floral blouse. For a smart-casual take on the look, see Sharon Horgan (pictured) at an Emmys event earlier this year, where she paired her boldly-patterned dress with ankle boots and minimal jewellery.

If you're opening the closet at home and staring into an abyss of florals, stripes and checks, the thought of deciding which prints to clash can be overwhelming, and you might initially feel you're inviting too much attention on yourself. Luckily, many designers have done the hard work for you by incorporating mismatched prints into single pieces.

If you're feeling daunted, stick to similar tones. Whistles' star-printed shirt dress and Finery's floral tea dress are ideal 'beginner' pieces that look instantly polished with minimal effort, while Mother of Pearl's gorgeous wrap skirt offers a mash-up of florals in one piece that can be styled with a crisp white shirt or the matching blouse, depending on how far you're willing to take the trend.

Stripes are another easy starting point, while different hues of gingham - arguably the print of the season - look striking in colour-blocked outfits like Diane von Furstenburg's empire waist dress.

If you're wearing two or more prints, ensure they share at least one colour. Zara's monochrome polka-dot shirt is chic worn on its own, but looks even better alongside an edgy striped skirt with an on-trend asymmetric hem.

To pare back the flash, throw a denim jacket on top, and when it comes to accessories, keep things solidly-coloured and neutral. Or, if you're inclined to embrace your inner maximalist, ramp it up with a pair of this season's statement ball drop earrings or a cool Balenciaga-esque sock boot.

Irish Independent

Also in this section