How to Choose a Print Garment


There are dimensions to print and pattern than need to be understood to make flattering choices when choosing garments.

Sparse vs Dense

Sparse prints have space (also called negative space) between the print.  The negative space can allow the eye to rest between the print, and draws attention to that part of the body.  Sparse prints tend to be less flattering to more curvalicious bodies, than dense prints, with low negative space, which confuse the eye and don’t let it rest on an particular piece of print.

Repeating patterns

A repeating pattern is one where each piece is the same, and spaced evenly over the garment, it will create focal points.  A non-repeating pattern is more distracting to the eye.


The difference in light and dark colours in a print can make a print look smaller or larger.  A low contrast print is more restful and doesn’t draw attention to itself as compared to a high contrast print.   A medium pattern appears larger and more obvious, the higher the contrast.  It will also appear smaller and less obvious when in a lower contrast.

These are a few elements of prints that are worth considering when choosing a garment.


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  • I am always tempted by sparse prints. I find dense ones to be too much. That said, I know I am better in a dense print. Why oh why are we attracted to what doesn't suit us???? Not fair!;-(

  • As always a useful and informative post Imogen. I love looking at your polyvores- you seem to be a marvellous teacher. Thanks. Maureen

  • LOVE THIS POST!! Choosing flattering prints and especially mixing prints is the hardest part for me to achieve successfully. I love the look of certain mixed prints, but don't always manage it successfully on my own. And I want prints to flatter – not make me look like a walking carpet. THANK YOU!!

    PS- The purse organizer I won arrived in the mail yesterday. Thank you so much!

  • Thanks a lot this is very wise! I love combined prints on the same piece. It gets very baroque. I was very impressed by the post you made last year on prints and necklaces,the way you so successfully related their shapes. I was wondering if you also had great knowledge to share about prints(colour and shapes) in relation to hair or face shape. How to relate them? You already talked about it in a way. Are there some successfull or fatal combinations?

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