La Double J Sardegna Skirt available for purchase online at Vermillion.
After a year of living in loungewear, we’re starting to think a bit more about our wardrobe. And as spring takes hold and hopes of getting out more start seeming like they might become a reality, we’re ready to kick it up a notch with pieces outside of our neutral comfort zone. To help guide us, we reached out to Scouted fashion experts for advice on how to infuse our basics with a jolt of pattern. Whether you’re already a fan of prints or in need of a primer on how to work them into your solid-leaning wardrobe, the following recommendations will have you ready to refresh your closet and (safely) step out in a statement-making ensemble.
Lean into layering. If you’re accustomed to wearing solids, Susanna Frankland, owner of Meadow in San Antonio, Texas, recommends starting with a blouse. “If you’re interested in a bold pattern, you could layer a blouse under a blazer or jacket for a more subtle look that shows a hint of pattern,” she explains. Ashley Webb, owner of Vermillion in Raleigh, North Carolina, encourages layering a patterned blouse under a neutral colored dress, pairing it with your favorite jeans and blazer combo, or popping a vest over it.
Know that stripes are always safe. If you’ve been pattern resistant, working them into you wardrobe can feel intimidating. Karen Perry, owner of Five One Five in Charlotte, North Carolina, shares that stripes are a good jumping off point. “Whether you go with a simple blue-and-white striped top with a solid bottom or go a little bolder with a floral skirt, this is a great way to ease into pattern,” she says.
Don’t forget about accessories. “A great place to start with patterns is with scarves,” says Betty Spain, owner of Bella Rose in Lexington, Kentucky. “We love a linen scarf or wrap for spring nights on the patio. Alternatively, a silk scarf adds rich color to your look and is one of the most versatile items you can add to your wardrobe. Scarves are true convertibles and there are so many ways to wear them.” Frankland concurs, and adds that a fabulous handbag, clutch, or even shoes in a flirty print can also be a great way to tease pattern into your look.
Experiment to find the look that’s right for you. When working with patterns, there’s no rule book. Webb recommends picking a pattern you’re drawn to and then mixing and matching prints and patterns to find the look that’s right for you. “Start with one print, like a Lela Rose Skirt, and work to find something that compliments it,” she advises. “That could be an inverted colored print, a striped top in neutral tones, a bright colored belt, or a bold pattern that clashes in the best way.” When you land on something that pleases your eye and makes you happy, then you know you’ve found it.
Choose a color palette you’re already comfortable in. To avoid buying something you’ll never wear, don’t stray too far out of your comfort zone. “I always suggest sticking with the color scheme that someone is used to wearing and one that makes them feel the most confident,” Franklin says. If you’re accustomed to wearing neutrals, then zero in on prints in a neutral tone rather than bolder hues. However, if you love vibrant color and can see yourself in something more statement-making, go for it. “Prints are personal, and while classic prints may speak to some, bold geometric prints speak to others,” she explains. “I personally gravitate towards a more neutral color palette, however I love to mix in color and bold prints on occasion.”
Try tie-dye. A mainstay of the counterculture, tie-dye has made a departure from its DIY roots into high fashion, Frankland notes, making it a good option for the stylish set. While you can certainly find bold, colorful prints, she’s drawn to more sedate looks, like the shibori-inspired patterns in this Ulla Johnson Elliot Pullover that demonstrates another big trend of the season, strong shoulders. Webb has seen the look in everything from caftans to denim, but also gravitates to more monochromatic looks, like this one-shouldered Proezna Schouler long-sleeved shirt.
Go retro. According to Webb, in addition to traditional mainstays like stripes and checks, prints and patterns that are reminiscent of the 70s are having a comeback. Think paisley, bold florals, and technicolor swirled patterns. Perry has also seen a revival of the hippie-chic madras plaid. “We put a madras print dress with a beautiful floral embroidered vest. It’s nothing to be afraid of,” she says.
Rethink your definition of “pattern.” Of course pattern falls into the category of bright florals and things like zebra and python print, which are all big this season, according to Spain. But you can also take a more playful approach to pattern when you think of it terms of applique and embroidery, and even incorporating tweed and boucle for texture.
TSG Tip 390 from Susanna Frankland, owner of Meadow in San Antonio, Texas; Ashley Webb, owner of Vermillion in Raleigh, North Carolina; Karen Perry, owner of Five One Five in Charlotte, North Carolina; and Betty Spain, owner of Bella Rose in Lexington, Kentucky. Meadow is featured in The Scout Guide San Antonio. Vermillion is featured in The Scout Guide Raleigh, Durham & Chapel Hill. 515 is featured in The Scout Guide Charlotte. Bella Rose is featured in The Scout Guide Lexington.