Guest Blog: How to Wear Patterns and Prints for Your Body Shape by Online Personal Stylist

I’m Luisa, a professional personal stylist and fashion blogger. In this post I’m going to be teaching you how to wear patterns and prints to suit your body shape.


If you’ve yet to explore wearing patterns and prints then let me tell you that you are missing out! There is such a wide choice of beautiful prints on the market today that the right one for you is out there. Like with anything bold and a little undiscovered, there are many common misconceptions and uncertainties, which we are going to cover.



Common Issues about Wearing Prints

  • I don’t know how to colour coordinate my outfit. How do I decide what to put with patterned clothing?
  • I don’t have the right body shape to wear prints and patterns!
  • I get really overwhelmed when shopping got anything new or out of my comfort zone, so I tend to stick to my trusty basics.
  • Will statement prints drown my petite figure?
  • I thought patterns made you look fat?!
  • I’m wary of patterns because they can quickly look outdated…



And here are my top tips and solutions to the problems listed above



How Do You Colour Coordinate and Decide What to Wear with Patterned Clothing?

When you are sat staring at a fashion garment with a mixed colour pattern, you may feel confused and overwhelmed about what colour to wear with the garment. Dresses and other all-in-one pieces cause less confusion, but if you are trying to find a top to match a patterned skirt then there is one very easy and simple rule to follow. Rather than playing it too safe and opting for black or white, which may not actually match the patterned garment, pick out one of the colours from the patterned piece and wear your coordinating item in that colour. For e.g. if you are wearing a skirt that contains the colours blue, yellow and pink, simply choose from one of these colours (try to stay true to the particular shade as well) and wear this shade in other elements of your outfit.



How to Wear Patterns and Prints to Suit Your Body Shape

Let’s get one thing straight: no matter your height, body shape or weight, you can wear patterns and prints. The clause is that you need to learn how to wear them for your own personal physical characteristics. First of all, you want to briefly think about the type of body shape you have and then from there you will be better equipped with the knowledge to wear patterns well. Patterns and prints will not make you look “too fat” or “too thin” if you take note of how to wear these styles for your own body shape.


Below is a list of the most common types of body shapes and some useful advice on how to wear patterns best for each of these body shape types.


  • Apple = apple shapes tend to put on weight more around their midsection. Even if you are far below the “overweight” mark, you may find that you don’t have an incredibly defined waistline and can easily look bigger on the top than on the bottom half of your body. In this case, you don’t want to focus all of the busy patterns on the top half of your body because wearing too much detail on your top half will make your upper body appear far wider than your lower body. Try to stick to wearing patterns on the lower half of your body, such as skirts, trousers and shorts, and opt for a non-patterned, plain top. This doesn’t mean that you cannot wear dresses however, but instead opt for t-shirt style dresses that have a slim fit (not oversized or too clingy) and ensure that the pattern is balanced and symmetrical.


Mafrika Long Sleeve Shift Dress

  • Pear = pear shapes are wider towards the lower half of their body, from the hips and down. Just like with the apple shape (having to create a balance between the top and bottom half of your body), you will have to do the same to ensure that your top half doesn’t look significantly smaller than the lower half of your body. You can do this by keeping patterns, prints and any details plain and simple on your bottom half and instead, wear patterns and prints on the top half of your body. There are lots of cute tops with pretty details that would suit your figure perfectly! When shopping for dresses you want to find a style that has detail on the top half (especially around the shoulder or chest area), whereas the lower half of the dress must be slim fitting – not too tight but not A-line either and with as little detail as possible, i.e. no pockets, ribbons, bows etc.

Kampala Fair cotton tee

  • Straight = a straight figure means that as far as the eye can see there is no noticeable change in the width of your body from your shoulders down to your hips. This doesn’t mean that all straight figures are super thin; it just means that your body measurements do not differ drastically. The good news is that you have the option to wear patterns and prints on your upper and lower body. A very subtle A-line fit shirt will give the illusion of the accentuated waist and wider hips that you do not have but can easily fake. Seeing as you do not need to balance out the top and bottom half of your body like with apple and pear shapes, you can afford to wear oversized styles or even an A-line top together with an A-line skirt.

MAFRIKA pencil skirt

  • Hourglass = having an hourglass figure means that your shoulders, bust and hips are similar in size with less than 10 inches difference and your waist is 10 or more inches smaller. Basically, you want to wear clothing that accentuates your tiny waist, ankles, wrists and slim arms. Anything oversized will drown your figure and may look unflattering. Generally, you can wear patterns and prints on any garment you choose (top or bottom) but you must pay close attention the fit. Dress styles such as a wrap dress or an A-line skirt or dress will flatter your figure and show off your enviable figure! Choose styles with a tailored fit all over. If you want to wear baggier clothing, do so only on the lower half of your body by choosing skirts and trousers in wide-leg, flared or A-line styles.


Don’t forget to finish off your look with stylish accessories, such as an eye-catching bag.



Other Useful Tips

  • If you are worried about patterns and prints looking dated in the near future then stick to buying larger prints rather than small, detailed patterns. Big prints and patterns rarely date.
  • Wearing a new style for the first time can be daunting, so start with something manageable, such as a statement bag or a scarf and then build your way up as you feel more comfortable.