What's New
Arts & Leisure
Fashion & Style
A Better You
Your Look
House & Home
Professional Advice
Times of your Life
About Us
Search the Site

Spice up your Wardrobe
with Prints
By Kristen Kaleal

A couple of years ago, I realized how blasť my wardrobe had become. I had precious few patterns in my closet, but those that I had, I wore quite often.

Several patterns I didn't feel were "right" and they quickly wrote their own ticket out of my closet. I looked at the patterns I wore the most to see what they all had in common and tried to figure out why I felt great and looked good in them.

I realized all the patterns shared one trait - they all contained beige or yellow. They worked with my coloring because I am a champagne blonde. It's all about harmony - my hair color was repeated in the patterns I wore.

I started using this new tactic, and you know what? I started buying (and more importantly, wearing) interesting patterns! My closet isn't boring anymore!!

Most of us appreciate a rule of thumb so we are assured that what we buy will look great on us. Fortunately, this concept works for everyone - whether male or female, and regardless of hair color - brown, red, black, gray, or blonde.

A pattern will generally work on you if your hair color is repeated in it. I think that's why leopard print is perpetually 'in'. It contains so many of our hair colors - blonde, light and dark brown, white, and black. And redheads can wear it because it's in their color palette!

A few more tricks for wearing prints:

The 80/20 Rule

This is for anyone who has attended one of my color events. For best results, when you buy prints, make sure 80% of the colors in the print are from your own palette. The other 20% can be any color in the spectrum. Remember, it's all about creating harmony!

Filling Your Closet

The easiest way to incorporate prints is to use the following list in descending order:

  1. Stripes
  2. Plaids
  3. Checks
  4. Dots
  5. Abstracts
  6. Florals*
*A quick note - be careful with florals in the professional world - they can undermine your credibility

Mimic your face and body shape

If your facial features are on the angular side with dramatic high cheekbones, a square jawline, or thin lips, and you are tall and/or slender, opt for bold, geometric patterns.

If you have softer features and are more curvy, choose soft or rounded prints, like paisley, swirls, and abstract florals.

Kristen Kaleal clothes
A mishmash of prints from my very own closet:
clothes, bags, shoes, scarves

As you can see, I'm on the softer, curvier side, so I select patterns that are more rounded, leafy, or swirly - nothing too angular or with hard edges.

Mixing Patterns

Guys do it all the time - a pinstripe suit, striped shirt, polka dot tie. Women, on the other hand, are generally afraid to mix patterns for fear of looking silly, I suppose. I do it quite a bit and I can assure you I don't look silly. I will pair striped or plaid pants with abstract print shirts or jackets.

There are a few tricks to making this look work:

  1. Don't combine more than 2 patterns - unless you are going for a very fashion forward look
  2. Items must have at least 2 colors in common
  3. Make sure the prints are different proportions - for instance, herringbone (a very tight pattern) and a large print brocade jacket can work well together if you follow all the other rules
  4. Mixing patterns mandates toned-down accessories

Kristen Kaleal is an image consultant and corporate speaker. She is the style and image expert for ClevelandWomen.com and can be reached at (440) 742-0385 or kristen@ClevelandWomen.com.

Ask our Image and Style Expert a question style@ClevelandWomen.com.

Top of Page

Back to Image & Style expert Kristen Kaleal

Kristen Kaleal

Copyright © 2005-2006 ClevelandWomen.Com. All Rights Reserved.
Questions or Comments? E-Mail us at: