The high street is full of prints and pattern this season.  As a younger follower of fashion, I know I made mistakes when choosing patterned clothing. I often looked at what appealed to me on the hanger or in a shop window but forgot to consider my body shape or size. Now, as a stylist, I often see women who are making similar mistakes.  They buy on impulse before considering all options available. Here are some common mistakes people make and ways to avoid them.

1 – Forgetting their Style Personality

This is one of the most important things to remember when choosing prints. If you forget what your style is and just go for a pattern because it’s trendy, you’ll end up feeling uncomfortable and unconfident in your clothes. Here’s a quick reminder the 6 main style personalities:


Don’t usually wear much print.  Most happy in natural, neutral, plain colours. If you want to try a pattern, go for something subtle.


May wear a neat stripe or spot in a scarf or blouse.  Don’t usually go for anything too wild or whacky. Usually know what suits them well  – don’t be persuaded by dramatic friends to stray out of your comfort zone.


Florals and pretty prints are perfect – especially in pastel colours. Don’t worry if natural friends knock you for being too girly! You wouldn’t feel comfortable in their plain khakis and beiges.


The bolder the better for you. Trying to tone yourself down is a mistake unless for your work environment. For pleasure, you’ll have a ball this season and feel at home in animal prints and neon abstracts. Stripes and checks can be a mistake for you and feel too safe.

City chics

Usually keep things plain, elegant and understated. May add a neat stripe or classy-looking pattern (eg Hermes chain) in a scarf.


Don’t usually make mistakes.  Know just how to style things up, accessorise or customize.  This season will be wonderful for the creatives and they’ll enjoy tie-dye fabrics and patterns made with craft work.  If you’re not a creative, don’t try to copy a creative friend’s style!  It’s unique to them and you’ll look like a poor imitation.

Sometimes when I write about style personality, people comment that it’s too general and they don’t want to be put in a box. Absolutely!

I know a dramatic that loves bright colours but hates animal print. I know a classic that loves to add some romantic florals.

At a style consultation, I work with my clients to find their own unique style with the elements that will work best for them. Until then, think about the look you want to achieve when choosing prints. Do you want to look daring, trendy, chic, smart, subtle, outrageous, quirky, funky, flirtateous or pretty.

2 – Didn’t think about colour

It may well be that you’ve worked out the best pattern for you but do you know your colouring? Before I ever had a colour analysis, I thought it would be a load of rubbish.  But choosing the right tones for your own colouring can make a huge difference. Let’s just take animal prints as an example. If you have quite bright, clear colouring (dark hair, bright eyes), black and white zebra print will look amazing on you.  If you have softer colouring (mid-toned hair and eyes) you need to go for a softer animal print like leopard. Even with leopard print warmer, camel tones look better on warmer skin tones and cooler, grey tones better on cool skin tones.

3 – Failed to match the size to the scale!

You may find a dress, skirt or blouse in a high street store that comes in a size 8-20. Should you be a plus size figure but choose a ditsy little pattern, it will seem to go on forever and make you look larger. If on the other hand you are quite petite, a larger pattern will dwarf you. Just because they make something in your size, it doesn’t mean it will suit you. Be very careful to choose small, average or larger prints to match your own scale.

4 – Disregarded their body shape.

When I was younger, I tried not to think about body shape at all! I considered myself to be fat and blobby but hadn’t really thought that size is not a shape. Some people have a straighter silhouette.  Some people are more curvy. This has nothing to do with size. Dressing your shape can make you look bigger or smaller if you dress your shape badly or well.

There are all sorts of rules and tricks that work with patterns and body shapes.  It’s something that should be considered and studied. By now, you can probably appreciate, I’ve made most of the mistakes in the book! As a student I loved bold tartans and if I’m honest, I still do. But I now appreciate that straight lines and geometrics are much more flattering and hang straight on straighter bodies. Curvy patterns are better on curvy body shapes. For some people, they are a mixture of straight and curvy and again a style consultation with a personal stylist can help you identify your body shape and which patterns will work best.


So, lots to consider. I hope this helps and doesn’t over whelm you. If in doubt, just pull out a patterned item from your wardrobe and ask yourself:

Do I love the print?

Is it a good scale?

Is the colour right?

If it’s something you’ve had lots of compliments in, it’s probably right for you. If you’ve never felt right in it, there’s probably one or two of the typical mistakes going on but hopefully now, you’ll recognize the problem and shop wiser in the future.

Would You Like Some Help?

If you’d like help to find confidence in your style or to find out more about my personal style consultations, please visit my Services section and get in touch.

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