Prints, Charming

J.Crew Midnight Floral Tee (it’s linen!!)
I’m no pushover when it comes to prints. In fact, other than leopard print, stripes and the occasional printed scarf, I’ve tended to avoid them. It’s so easy to go wrong: too big, too precious, too “upholstery fabric,” too much going on…and so many prints tend to wear me rather than the other way around.
But a printed top can be a great way to breathe some life into neutral separates, and lately I’ve been running across some prints that have me rethinking my aversion. They’re playful without being twee, and neutral enough to mix with other colors or wear to work underneath a cardigan or blazer.

I fell in love with the print on the J.Crew tee above the moment I saw it. Yes, it’s floral and butterflies and birds, but somehow it’s not cloying and it works. It’s that color I think of as “French blue” and would look great with everything from jeans to a pencil skirt. Pair with a leather moto jacket for a fun mix. I was told by a Sales Associate that they’re selling out of this style quickly, so if you’re interested, don’t dither. (Be aware: it runs a bit large, so size down.)

Foxcroft “Wild Rose” shirt
This Foxcroft shirt sports another print that’s reminiscent of toile, in a non-iron fabric. This is prettier up close than it looks in the picture.
DKNY Claudine Print V-Neck Sweater
The print on this DKNY sweater riffs on both the tribal and polka dot print trends and somehow transcends both, creating an artsy and sophisticated look that would carry an outfit.
Madewell “Sketchyard” shirt

Madewell does some really wonderful subtle-but-witty prints. These silk “boyshirts” have an oversize fit and work nicely as tunics.

Madewell “Birdslife” silk shirt

Also from Madewell, this geometric print linen tee is an interesting alternative to stripes or polka dots.

Madewell Geometry tee

Are there particular types of prints that appeal to you?  Or are you a print-avoider?

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  1. I like prints. I have a small chest and when I look at myself in a solid top or a print top I feel more balanced in the eye-catching print top. When the weather warms up I like to drop off with the layers/scarves and use a print top to add interest.

  2. I’m a print avoider. I don’t think they flatter my body type. Like you, I do wear some strips, some small checks. I have a printed dress (which I seldom wear.) While these are fun to see, I don’t think I will be wearing them.

  3. Great selections! I love print – didn’t always but have over the past few years really come to enjoy wearing it. I think youth and lack of confidence thereof caused me to shy away – it was the nineties then and the only acceptable print was a floral, worked with workmen boots to be grungy – I still love a floral but there are so many great prints out there that it would be dull to just restrict yourself to one.

  4. Last year, in the spring, I was seduced by some printed, dressier T’s at Talbots. They will be going to our new consignment shop this spring. Although the colors were lovely, I just felt like I was wearing the wallpaper. Most of my prints are confined to scarves or dark colored abstract knits.

    Speaking of Madewell, there is a wonderful little Madewell in Boston right next door to our favorite restaurant, Sonsie. I make it a point to visit whenever I’m in town. I have two scarves from there which I wear all the time and now will check out the tops. Thanks.

  5. I’m wearing the JCrew “chicken shirt” as I write. . . .love that linen Tee although not too hopeful it would suit me. I’m very drawn to prints, but also wary of wearing them.

  6. I have seen many lovely and enticing prints but have not and probably will not take the plunge. Scarves are much easier for me to buy than floral tops. The foxcroft in Wild Rose would be nice as a layer over a white or black tank or tee.
    Spring is a floral season so it’s not surprising that the retailers have these in stock to tempt us.

  7. Hmmmm…I’ve been a minimalist for awhile. I actually did a stint as a salesperson at Eileen Fisher for a bit so you can only imagine….but lately I’ve been feeling like brightening it up! These prints are pretty but subtle. I fear looking like a crazy old lady if I get too much into the florals!

  8. Print Avoider, big time. I agree that a larger chest makes them more difficult, but even aside from that, I just can’t pull them off. I love stripes in the summer, I like polka dots too, but prints – ne jamais! No animals, no trees, no flowers, no tribals, no abstracts. Maybe maybe a small Liberty-type print, but I much prefer keeping the prints to a scarf.

  9. I really, really like the DKNY and the Madewell prints. I’m really not into florals right now, but the geometrics are cool. Have a great week!!

  10. I have maybe 2 pieces with a print – but I only ever wear them under a blazer. I’m not really a fan for myself, but I like it on others. I think animal prints like the Sketchyard print look odd.

  11. Very pretty linen Tee… Have to admit I am a bit of a print avoider and apart from stripes I don’t much with prints on apart from the odd geometric pattern… maybe time to remedy that? Have a good week. S x

  12. I do like some prints…I LOVE toiles, and also wear stripes and polka dots (smallish). I am also drawn to batik prints in blue, which I have to stop myself from buying because I already have a dress and skirt in that print. Oh, and a knit top. Hmmmm. Florals, it depends, but soft watercolory prints are more likely to get a spot in my wardrobe.

    —Jill Ann

  13. I like you am fairly averse to prints however I have seen a few in the shops that might tempt me. Cos do some nice abstract ones and I am currently yearning for a touch of colour.

  14. I would not buy tops with prints for myself, but on the right woman at the right time, I guess it would work.

  15. Definite print-avoider, although I do have a striped shirt and a polka dot blouse (small white dots on black silk) in my wardrobe. Occasionally I try on something in a print, but I’m never convinced … Actually, I have a pair of graphic print Max Mara cropped pants which I love. But again, they are cream and black.

  16. Mostly print avoider, but I do like the first tee shirt, however virtually sold out. Print blouses are a bit matronly looking to me. I even like solid scarves the most, like your new blue one.

  17. I do enjoy prints. They make me feel bright and cheerful. The scale of the print is important to me because as a curvy petite, I wouldn’t choose an enormous print. My favourite of your selection is the Midnight Floral T-shirt.

  18. Not much of a prints person for clothing, but I do have a tiny handful of them. I always feel as if i’m wearing a costume, so perhaps it’s a personality thing, rather than an aversion to “standing out, ” which certainly isn’t the case with my shoe and bracelet obsession.

  19. Very pretty shirts. I do like some prints, although I don’t have many. The ones you highlighted are very light and fresh, using limited colors – this would make them so easy to wear with other clothes. My favorite is the Claudine – very cool!

  20. I love prints and they work well for me as long as I pay attention to scale. I’m very petite so I have to take care the print doesn’t end up “wearing me”. Like you, I’m not keen on much of the new floral trend prints but I have my own sparsely patterned floral butterfly print I’ll be wearing once the weather warms up.

    Spashionista (Alicia)

  21. I like a good animal print but I’ve been branching out as long as the print has limited colors like the ones you’ve shown above and I tend to prefer abstract to floral, though I do like the J Crew linen top.

  22. I am willing to take a chance on prints but I stay away from tight florals and go for graphic or abstact prints. I find they arent as ageing as a lot of the florals.

    I do like the ones you chose; I think because they are just 2 colors, most of them.