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Good Housekeeping
Stephanie Castillo, Contributor
February 16, 2012

The Power of Prints

Great style is personality-driven. Columnist Stephanie Castillo turns to the latest florals, tribals, and art deco patterns for self-expression. By Stephanie Castillo
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Stylewise PrintsSay anything! That is the promise of a good print—to take your vivid, distinct, and multi-faceted personality and state it proud on your choice of dress.

To a novice, however, pulling off prints is easier said than done. It takes a certain blend of confidence and nonchalance to don a bold pattern as easily as you would black. If the first part is found wanting, the print will swallow you up; if the second, you’ll look like you’re trying too hard. Both scenarios are disastrous.

That’s probably why a lot of women (including myself) tend to stick to solids. We rotate a closetful of figure-flattering, unprinted garments to get us through the week, and we settle into this comfort zone of subtlety. We might incorporate the usual stripes and florals, perhaps a sprinkling of leopard or zebra. But more or less, these surface when we are “in the mood,” and only then. When the flight of fancy passes, it’s back to regular programming with one-note neutrals and basic brights.

And there’s nothing amiss about that. I’m happy to toss on monochromatic separates and some ego-boosting lipcolor and call it a day. My penchant for chunky necklaces notwithstanding, every day of the week is an opportunity I take to abide by the adage “less is more.”

But is that really the case? Well, after years of experimenting with my personal style and building my wardrobe, only to rebuild it when I see a girl whose creative choices I covet, I’ve come to the conclusion that less is more sometimes. Other times, it’s just kind of boring.

Prints turn the equation on its head. If most people think of good style as simplicity with a dash of personality, prints give you full-on personality with the veneer of ease. In other words, if you wear them well, they will make you look interesting but effortless--style-savvy, rather than stuck in a rut.

So skip the safety net the next time you go shopping. Learn to take risks with adventurous tribal, flapper-friendly art deco, and big, romantic blossoms--they will take you anywhere, as you will find below. To paraphrase T.S. Eliot, dress with a bang, not a whimper—and you will find that there is so much more to fashion that you have yet to see.

(All fashion sets created by Stephanie Castillo via Polyvore. Flashbox prints from Polyvore.)

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Stephanie Castillo
Contributor
Stephanie Castillo is a freelance writer and fashion stylist. Her column, Stylewise, appears on FN every Friday... Read more...
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