How To Make Floral Prints Work For You

| Apr 2, 2018

It’s no surprise that women love floral prints but the secret is in how to make floral prints work for you. I love florals as they are very popular here in Mexico where it is all about color. Your choices are vast and indefinite and choosing one that is flattering and complimentary to your body and style is essential. Small flowers or large, spaced apart or close together, with or without vines or clusters of blossoms, and in what color palette? The choices are infinite

 

beautiful print

Consider that larger flowers are more flattering to petite body types. Oversized floral patterns are not good for shapely women because these may add a few pounds to your silhouette. Smaller flowers and floral designs give more of a solid color impression and work for average to more shapely body types.

If your body type is slim to average consider exploring a balance of larger floral patterns and smaller patterns. When unsure if the pattern is flattering try to break up the pattern with a belt or trendy scarf.

Also, consider the host background color of your floral dress. White backgrounds that display bright and sunny inspired blooms are ideal for concealing problem bulges. Darker ones give you a more tailored and tapered look and the illusion of being slimmer.

So florals need to selected carefully. Bold florals and large-scale florals fit snugly into the Dramatic personality dressing style. They exude more power and confidence and have a dynamic presence. Smaller florals and softer more natural florals fit nicely into the Feminine personality dressing style. They exude a sense of warmth and nurturing, and have a softer presence . Some prints are just plain old-fashioned and if you’re a forward-thinking modern woman, this is not the message you want people to send. So if you feel like you’re overwhelmed by a flower garden on a larger scale of all-over print, why not opt for a floral element on an otherwise solid garment, or find a garment that includes a geometric or other element as well as the florals to take away that “lost in the garden” feel.

the right floral print for you

Tasi and Anna Marie in El Paso

Tasi (L) a bold floral is part of the overall pattern, Anna-Marie (R) a geometric pattern. Taken in El Paso TX with its strong Latin culture

 

With so many choices though, it can be a bit overwhelming, so let’s break it down into a simple formula and you can tackle the elements important to you

How to choose the right floral print for you

  1. Personality – what florals appeal to you visually?  Don’t choose a print you don’t love the look of (no matter how it may fit your other style rules). More tips on interpreting prints and how they express personality elements here.
  2. Scale – choose a print that relates to your own overall body scale and features – got larger facial features even if you have a medium scale body (this kind of analysis is also inside my 7 Steps to Style program), then a larger scale print can work for you, otherwise, stick with medium to smaller scale prints so you’re not overwhelmed by it – unless of course you are Dramatic in your personality style and love to break those scale rules (and you can carry it off, as it suits who you are).
  3. Contrast – choose a print with a good contrast – remember how you can manipulate a high-value contrast print so it doesn’t look so high contrast (and do pick it in a value that relates to your ideal value too).  And you can wear a high colour contrast print even if you’re not high colour contrast, just by wearing it on the lower half of your body (as I shared here).
  4. The Density of Print – If you’re naturally slim, then you can go for a more sparse print, but if you want to use your print to camouflage, then go for a more dense print.
  5. Color – And of course, the colors in the print relate to your own natural coloring – no point in picking a print that is more than 10% the wrong undertone (and sadly there are plenty of these mixed undertone prints available). Plus ideally, you want the background (negative space) and print to be in a value that relates to your own ideal value (something that is similar to the depth of your hair color).
  6. Age – Do you want to look sophisticated and modern?  Then choose a more stylised print as you advance through the years, even a bolder print exudes more confidence too.
  7. Style of Garment – Yes, there is one last thing to think about – what kind of garment is your floral print on?  How does the fabric move?  On a top that is more fitted, then a smaller, more dense print is required, but on a floaty kimono-style garment a more sparse print and larger scale can work just as well.  Wearing the print on a body part you want to camouflage?  Go more dense, happy to have the body area a focal point?  Go more sparse.

Now let’s look at some of the detail. We’ll talk about contrast which is basically the brightness of a print compared to our visual perception of the objects around it.

The size of the print matters

A smaller print often doesn’t look as high contrast (even though it might be) as a larger scale print.

Here you can see how the smaller lilac and green print as the floral details are more delicate and made from many smaller pieces, the print, even though it has both light and dark elements in it which give it a higher value contrast, doesn’t look so high contrast because of the delicate nature of the print.

Above on the right, the yellow-orange and red flowers are larger in scale and so have a greater impact on the apparent contrast of the dress – they create that obvious higher contrast because of their boldness and scale.

These two dresses have a floral print of similar scale, but the higher contrast print makes the scale of the print more obvious and therefore trickier to wear  – you need to be larger scale to wear it easily, versus the dress on the right with the low contrast print, the scale becomes much less apparent so it could be worn by someone who wasn’t large scale.  Find more tips on getting the right contrast print for you here.

The density of the floral print

As with all prints, a more sparse print slows down the eye as it travels over the garment, and this slowing down is why a more sparse print is a less slimming or distracting print (see below).

How to choose the right floral print for you - understanding the elements of floral prints so you can choose the right ones

The more densely packed the print, even if it’s a larger scale print, the more slimming it can become as the eye moves more quickly from one element to another, and in fact it can often tire easily and not bother to focus anywhere – your brain is a little lazy at times – and so it keeps on moving, which is what makes these kinds of prints more slimming as there is no focal point for the eye to rest upon.

Floral print styles for your age

As much as I don’t love “women over 40 shouldn’t wear X or Y” type style advice, I have noticed that on the whole, some floral prints work better on the more youthful of us, and some on the more mature and sophisticated (and sophistication tends to be a benefit of a few extra years).

Stylized prints (above left) are is great for a more mature woman as it’s a long way from “nanna’s kitchen curtains” style of Liberty Print (or Calico floral).  There is an element of modernity and boldness that a naturalized floral just doesn’t have.

The prettier more natural style floral prints sit more naturally on for the more youthful (and isn’t pretty a word that sounds more youthful, whilst sophisticated is a word that sounds more mature?).

 

Floral dresses pair great with neutral colors

Irrespective of whether you pick a big or small floral print dress, what you pair it with is pivotal to your look. Floral dresses that have an all-over floral motif that spreads uniformly over the fabric should be toned down and paired with neutral or nude colors.

Neutral colors such as black, beige, white, nude, and silver compliment floral patterns and are often closet staples (so no extra shopping is needed). From your shoes to your jewelry to the bag you decide to carry, adding a dollop of neutral shades ensures the floral print is balanced and in harmony with your style

Pattern clashes are acceptable

If you’re feeling like a diva and want more edgy sex appeal, ditch the neutral colors and go for some pattern mixing instead.

Often your fashion palate turns to solids when choosing something to pair with your floral designs. However, pattern mixing is acceptable and a simple way to appear trendy and stylish.

Pair your floral dress with an accessory that has a bold stripes design such as a bangle bracelet or cuff. Also, consider choosing one or two colors from your floral pattern dress and matching all your accessories to those shades.

For example, a navy floral bodycon dress that showcases colors like red, yellow, and grey, is easily styled by choosing just two colors from the palette for the accessories. Opt for pumps or pointed-toe shoes in grey and throw on a red jacket, coverall, or scarf to give your look texture and depth. Similarly, pick accessories such as a hat, a bag, and your jewelry in these shades to complete the overall effect.

Adding bold contrasting patterns and colors is a way to bring out the flowers and give your look a more fashion savvy polish.

Pattern mixing

How to Accessorize a Floral Dress

Floral dresses are inherently feminine and tend to be showstoppers on their own. So it can be a challenge to pair the dress with accessories that add to your look instead of distracting from it.

Jewelry

Since floral dresses tend to have bold, bright, and noticeable colors, pairing with bold and colorful jewelry is a fashion faux pas. Accessorize a floral dress of any color with pieces that are delicate, subtle, and simple. A statement jewelry piece may distract attention from the dress and clash with it’s bolder tones. It is better to opt for simple drop earrings or studs, a thin chain with a small and delicate pendant or locket, and a light bracelet. The rule of thumb is that less is more. Keep your jewelry simple, a bit traditional, and classic.

Shoes

Shoes have the power to make or break your floral outfit. For these dresses, particularly ones that have a bold or dark background palette, steer clear of wearing matching floral print shoes. Wear your dress with neutral sandals, wedges, or stilettos. You could also pick one of the sober shades of the dress and match the color of your shoes.

Another edgy idea is to pair your floral dress with all black accessories. By adding tough black accessories such as black gladiator stilettos or flats, black studs, slim black belt, and cross-body black bag, to your feminine floral dress, you create an alluring mix of chic and edgy style.

Handbags

Sound advice is to select a bag that matches the most prominent color in your floral dress. If you think following this tip is going to make your overall ensemble too loud, tone it down with a solid neutral bag in primary colors such as blue, black, white, tan, or brown.

If your dress boasts floral prints in just two colors, consider stepping off the beaten track and opting for a handbag in a stable, contrasting color such as red.

Belts

A belt is one accessory that can add plenty of contrast and a pop of color to a floral dress. For example, a black-and-white floral dress works just as well with almost any contrasting belt color—both blue and red are very appealing options. On the other hand, if you have a multi-colored dress, choose one of the colors in your dress and pull it out with your belt.

Outerwear

Depending on the weather, you may or may not require any outerwear. However, the addition of a leather jacket, light trench coat, or even a fitted jacket or blazer will give your outfit a casual style that is both polished and chic. A blazer makes your floral dress office and workplace ready while a leather jacket offers an edgy look that grabs attention. Denim is also a favorite to pair with florals because it is simple and versatile.

The best makeup trends for floral dresses

Bold floral patterns have a show-stopping presence that is difficult to imitate. Most makeup artists recommend opting for neutral shades to avoid conflict with the print colors. However, it is also a smart idea to pull one shade from your dress that lends itself well to your preferred lipstick hue.

Keep in mind that it is best to either focus on playing up your lips or your eyes. Avoid highlighting both. Your dress is your best guide when it comes to the makeup you should choose. If it is bright and bold, opt for subtle makeup and consider a seductive lip gloss pout. On the other hand, if your dress has a lighter print or softer floral patterns and hues, then take your makeup up a notch with a bold lipstick shade or soft smoky eyes to pull the look together.

How to style your hair for flowers

If you are looking to channel your inner flower child, your hairstyle has a vital role to play. For those who hate having strands of hair in one’s face on a hot summer day, gel your hair into a high ponytail or go for a messy bun.

Braids are also winners. Braid a lock of hair from each side of your head, and pin them together at the back. Add a summery texture to the hairstyle by pinning tiny flowers into the braided sections. Incorporate floral motifs into your hair bands and ties for that flirty Coachella look. A sleek ponytail keeps the dress chic and fancy while a messy bun gives it a relaxed and casual appeal. Hairstyles and floral dresses give you tons of wiggle room to experiment.

Floral dresses are inspiring and ultra feminine. Although prints and patterns are often a challenge to pull off, with a bit of concentrated effort your floral dress quickly becomes just as versatile as your little black one. Keep things simple and natural if you wish or take it up a notch and show off your fashion sense with contrasting patterns.

Crossdressers in print dresses

Based on original articles by The Kewl Shop and Imogene Lamport of Insideoutsyleblog.

 

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Category: Fashion, How To, Style

About the Author ()

Tasi is transgendered, married, and a lifelong crossdresser. She’s the founder of the Ladies of the Blue Ridge transgender group in Roanoke VA, a prolific writer, commentator and blogger including fashion articles for Tri-Ess, TG Reporter, Repartee, and Pretty T-Girls magazine. Tasi currently resides in Merida, (Yucatan) Mexico. Her new website, Sister House and her blog, the Fashionable TG Woman are dedicated to fashion and style for the transgendered woman. Please visit her. Tasi’s new book, "Top Ten Fashion Mistakes By Crossdressers and How To Fix Them" is available on Amazon or on her site free to subscribers.

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