3 Essential Elements to Choosing Flattering Prints and Patterns

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contrast in prints and pattern


Yesterday I was out shopping with one of my lovely clients. She wanted some blouses and dresses that were more ‘fun’ than her current range of tops in solid colours.

Knowing her colour palette meant picking up all the options in the store that had her colours in them was easy, but also one of the keys to picking the right prints is also working with your natural level of contrast.


Value Contrast

My lovely client is a fair skinned blonde with pale green eyes, giving her a low contrast, thus the low contrast prints were the most flattering on her.

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  • If I am high contrast but bright deep purple, turqouise, shocking pink and bright teal-y green (all not too light or too dark colours, ie medium) suit me, what other colour can I wear them with to make a print into high contrast, not medium?

  • Under what style would you put paisleys and similar leafy somewhat abstract patterns? Or depends on the details of it? What about Moroccan patterns? Or bright stripy espadrilles?

    • Paisley is a small curly print so closely related to feminine

      Moroccan or anything with an ethnic vibe relates to the creative.

      Bright stripes can be dramatic, but on espadrilles more relaxed

  • The last bit about the relationship between contrast and scale was eye-opening for me. Thanks for always such detailed and helpful information, Imogen. You break it all down in ways that make style much more approachable.

    • Thanks! I remember learning that when I saw a coat. One black with large red flowers. The other beige with large mushroom and pale blue flowers. The beige coat pattern looked medium scale vs the black and red was overwhelming

  • Imogen, thank you so much for your enlightening blog posts. I was thrilled to see the patterns separated by style type. I have never felt that only one described me and the blend of classic, relaxed and rebellious is spot on. How can I learn more about these style types?

  • Interesting posts. You rarely find anything about prints when it comes to personal styles usually!

    According to these guides, I think Im
    – medium contrast value (very pale, slate-blue eyes and medium-blonde hair),
    – small to medium scale, V/X shape (I think. Im 5’5 but very skinny and have broad shoulders, medium bust, defined waist, long legs and narrow hips. V’s broad shoulders and legs but x’s curves. :S)
    … and according to some analyses Im soft summer who leans more toward autumn (neutral-muted-medium colors), which seems very true because I love muted/dull colors that are neither cool or warm (my favorite neutrals are dark taupe and navy) and can wear either gold and silver depending on my hair color (you said I was more warm one time, but on my blog, my hair were dyied golden blonde and used bronzer. Ive very dark mousy blonde hair naturally, similare to Jennifer Anistons. 😛 But I agree cool pastel do not look good on me, nor does the very bright warm ones like cooper.)
    As for my personal style, I still havent figure it out. I love almost anything as long its “balanced” and comfortable but I often base my wardrobe around classics/feminine-classy/relaxed pieces (staples) and spice it up with dramatic/creative (fun pieces), not that into trend/rebelious but sometimes try thme out. But I guess Im closer to classic/feminine with a creative and edgy twis because I cant sqeeeze myself into 2-3 personal styles.

    But I wondering, Ive medium contrast but I love the high contrast of the dramatic, also most blogs only write how to look slimmer but I rather want to add volume – What type of prints on my skirts/leggings do you think would go best, according to these guides?

    • If you want to add volume go for a sparse print in a high contrast.

      Warm/Cool is often confused – particularly when you have soft colouring. Jennifer Aniston is warm and soft.

      There is no reason to limit yourself to only a couple of personality styles – I’m a combination of Creative, Relaxed, Dramatic and Feminine – it all depends how I feel. I sometimes add in a touch of Classic if I’m doing a corporate workshop.

  • Hi Imogen,

    I believe I am a medium to low contrast since my skin is a medium color, my eyes are almost black and my hair is a medium purple right now but is naturally black. My body shape is O and I love the creative, dramatic and even rebelious prints but if I use a top of any of those categories it will bring the attention to my belly :/
    how I incorporate these styles in my outfit?

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