Patterns offer easy ways to liven up your wardrobe. But since patterns can accentuate your weight and height, it's important to choose prints that are the most flattering for you.
Shelley Williams, founder of The Style File Image Consulting System Inc., based in Victoria, B.C., says it's imperative to know your body shape and size before purchasing patterned clothing. "The key is to choose patterns that are proportionate to you," she says. For example, if you are petite, stick with small patterns. "You don't want the pattern to wear you," adds Williams. And, you'll be happy to know that there isn't one specific pattern that is most flattering on all women. "Patterns opposite to your face shape are the most complementary," says Williams. "So, if you have a round face, stay away from polka dots."
Mixing your patterns: A how-to
According to Williams, current fashion trends embrace mixing and matching patterns such as floral skirts topped with striped shirts and polka-dotted blouses matched with striped pants. "Anything goes," says Williams. "You are limited only by your imagination."
But before you unleash your inner flair for fashion, follow Williams's quick tips on what patterns can convey. To determine the type of pattern best suited to you, consider your personality – fun, serious, creative – and then consider your lifestyle – casual or corporate.
6 pattern personalities – Which one are you?
1. Vertical stripes convey strength and authority. They're great for shorter women who want added height because vertical stripes elongate, making you look slimmer.
2. Horizontal stripes convey a more restful look (appropriate for business-casual situations), but they definitely accentuate width, making most women look heavier than they really are. In other words, unless you're super-slim, stay away from horizontal stripes.
3. Diagonal stripes convey energy and creativity and are the most slimming pattern.
4. Floral patterns convey femininity and are perfect for social gatherings and weekend wear, which is why you see floral patterns a lot at parties and weddings. However, be sure to pick a floral pattern that is proportionate to your size. "A petite woman should choose a small- to medium-size floral print," says Williams. Larger women will find larger floral prints more figure-flattering.
5. Polka dots also convey femininity. And, contrary to what your mother told you, Williams says most women can, in fact, wear polka dots. "Polka dots are the perfect answer for women who aren't comfortable in floral patterns to subtly show off their femininity," she says.
And remember, all patterns come in more abstract variations. You just need to try different styles on to determine which one you feel most comfortable in.
When selecting a striped item, Williams suggests choosing a mixture of stripe widths. "Solid, bold stripes – especially when they're horizontal – have the tendency to widen," she says. Patterns have the power to accentuate or minimize your curves, so know your body, determine the image you want to convey and then get out there and have fun with patterns. Your options are endless!
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