What to Wear: Prints and Patterns, Getting the Value and Contrast Right


How to choose the prints and patterns to flatter you - understanding value and value contrast in prints

No matter the print, whether it’s florals, animal, abstract, ikat, check, geometrics or stripes, finding prints that relate to your value and value contrast will make your outfit look so much better on you.

Just as with colours where you should wear the colour rather than the colour wearing you. You should be the one wearing the print or pattern rather than it being the total focus.

Your Value – that is, how overall light or dark your colouring is

Your value is most frequently decided by your hair colour, how light or dark it is.

  1. Brunettes and those with black hair or very dark skin have a deep or dark value.
  2. Light brown, dark blondes and some who are greying from a darker brown but now have a overall mid-tone grey, plus many redheads, have a medium overall value.
  3. Blondes, lighter grey, and white haired people have a light value.

How to choose a print or pattern garment with the right value and contrast for you

  1. Dark value people need a dark background to their print.  And the print or pattern needs to be overall deeper.
  2. Light value people need a light background to their print.  The print needs to have an overall lightness.
  3. Medium value people will find that a print that has a medium value background or is an even mix between dark and light is bets for them.

Value Contrast in Prints and Patterns

The value contrast (difference between dark and light) in a print then relates to your value contrast (you can find out more about finding your value contrast here).

The greater the difference between the darker and lighter elements of the print, the more the print “pops” the higher the value contrast, which works well for those with both light and dark elements in their colouring.

The lower the value contrast, the better these prints will work for those who have less of a difference between their light and dark elements, have a look at these celebrity examples of contrast and value in outfits to give you a greater understanding.

Getting Your Head Around Value and Contrast – the Celebrity Version

Where Celebrities Go Right and Wrong with Their Contrast

Value and Contrast with Darker Skin Tones – the Celebrity Version

Choosing a print to flatter your value and contrast levelsIf a print is more blended between light and dark, even if it has elements of both light and dark, but includes medium value colours in between, this reduces the overall appearance of value contrast and can be easily worn by a person with medium value contrast.


Here is an example of a blended print and in fact the tweed is also a blend of light, medium and dark colours too.Choosing prints and patterns that work with your value and contrast

A bright colour can be used to create a high contrast along with a dark colour as the bright colour visually pops (as bright colours are advancing, just as light colours are).

In this video post I give tips on choosing prints to work with your colouring, we use animal prints as an example, but you can transfer this concept to any kind of print!

Not sure of your value contrast?  If you’d like my professional opinion on what suits you best, this is part of my 7 Steps to Style program, which also includes colour analysis and body shape analysis.

More Tips on Value and Value Contrast

The Value of Value Contrast and Using it to Create Stunning Outfits

What Exactly is Low Value Contrast

What Exactly is Medium-High Value Contrast?

Value Contrast and Your Value

How Anyone Can Wear a High Contrast Print

Working with Your Existing Wardrobe: The Black Dilemma

Linking up to: Style with a SmileNot Dressed as Lamb, Style Nudge 


I'm not sure if it's for you but how would you feel if you learned all about the colours and styles of clothing that suit your individual personality, shape and style? Just imagine what it would be like when you can open your wardrobe and pull together fabulous outfits that make you look and feel amazing every day? If you'd like to stop wasting money on the wrong clothes and accessories plus join an amazing bunch of very special women also on their style journey - then my 7 Steps to Style program is right for you. Find out more here.

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