In the spirit of #Ankarafriyay , today, we’re talking bold prints. Specifically, African prints; why we wear them and some tips and tricks to wearing bold prints in general. If the thought of overblown patterns sends you down a stress spiral, take a deep breath. Bold prints are more wearable than you think, and African prints are so much more fascinating. Take it from a former shy fashion wearer.
Prints have been around for a long while now. That makes me happy because I love beautiful prints and bright colors. I love mixing them, wearing them quietly, or colorfully like my outfit today. They add a lot of personality to my outfits, ya know! I am aware that most people – myself included – love the blacks, greys, and white, but I want to dare you to spice things up a bit and try something different. Also, fall is the best time to start subtly adding prints to your wardrobe since the colors being introduced tend to be dark. After all, fashion is all about experimenting and having fun. So let’s add some personality to our wardrobe. I’m going to give you some reasons why you should, if you already haven’t.
REASON TO WEAR AFRICAN PRINTS
- Versatility. African fashion is oh-so-versatile and allows you to experiment with colors and patterns to create a new look every day if you so desire. You can make pairs and wear them as separates, giving you 3 outfit choices on the fly
- Easy to incorporate into your everyday style. In recent years, African fashion has grown in popularity especially among designers, stylists, and bloggers. In Fall 2017, it was tough to find even high end designers who hadn’t incorporated “Ankara” prints into their line. I have my own thoughts about that 🙄…but that’s for another day. However, what this does is show that you can really make it unique to your sense of style. There’s an outfit for every occasion – whether you want to go casual, add color to your work wardrobe or attend a friend’s upcoming wedding. You can dress your outfit up or down to create the desired result. The trick is adding it into your style in ways that your personality allows.
- Bright, bold and beautiful. One of my favorite things about African fashion is the array of bold statement colors and prints. You can either make your whole outfit bright, bold and beautiful or just choose a statement piece to incorporate into your look. Whether that is through a pair of shoes, stunning necklace or a flowing skirt, the end result is as fabulous as ever. The best thing about the variety of colors is that you can make it work with your personality and play around with tones that compliment you and your skin tone. I say, have fun with it and experiment; sooner or later, you’ll learn what works best for you.
- Prints Galore. You walk into a high-street shop and most clothes have safe prints and patterns. African fashion is a lot more interesting with many different prints to choose from, from different parts of the continent, and all with a different meaning. Historically, the prints are used to tell stories, proverbs and traditional tales and that is so cool to me.
- Dress to Impress. With African fashion in your wardrobe, there are never ending options to dress up your outfit, whatever the occasion. For example if you fancy going out in your little black dress, breathe some new life into it by adding a focal point such as a sash, scarf, print. It’ll take your basic outfit from a 2 to a 10.
- Avoiding Stereotypes, Supporting #wearafrican #buyafrican & Competing Globally. As a Nigerian babe, this one is a personal point. Can we just build up an industry based on our aesthetics through market demand and supply? Or do we always need to wait for a multinational “usually non-African” corporation to swoop in and do it their way? Because more and more international companies have looked into Africa and history has shown that their intentions are not always pure. I love that there are so many home-grown brands creating employment and competing globally – be it by creating small tailoring workshops, fabric printers, fabric dyers, weavers and so on. The effect on education, financial independence and even health is undeniable.
- It’s cool and beautiful. That’s it!
TIPS AND TRICKS TO WEARING BOLD PRINTS
1. Begin With Accessories.
If wearing full prints on prints or mixing prints is not your cup of tea, I suggest starting with something very simple. Try elevating your simple outfit with one staple print piece like a printed scarf, head-wrap, purse or even shoes. Then keep the rest of your outfit neutral.
2. Pair With Black And White.
The contrast that black and white brings makes a statement all on its own, so adding a print won’t feel like that much more of a commitment. It’s one of the most subtle ways to wear prints. A hint of white or black within the pattern itself can help make your look even more cohesive.
3. Layer It Over A Muted Base.
Instead of black and white, going for neutral tones or nudes can allow your print to totally steal the spotlight without being loud or overwhelming you in the process. Beige accessories or coveralls over a patterned outfit will bring your look together.
4. Maintain The Prints Background Color Throughout The Outfit.
An example would be wearing my skirt with a black top instead of the green. Basically, you want to place your print on an extended backdrop. This minimizes its intensity and makes the outfit feel bold but much less intimidating.
5. …Or Pull Out Another Hue.
If you’re feeling more daring, pick a richer color from your print. Even the brightest pigments are guaranteed to complement your statement piece perfectly without overshadowing it. That’s exactly what I did with my outfit by pulling out the green hue. I personally love the skirt because adding the black patterned batik was one of my first sewing experiments that went right, at least I think it did.
6. Opt For Minimal Accessories.
Here, we’re talking style and quantity. Clean white shoes and navy ankle socks are quirky but low-key partners to this bold mini-dress. Moral of the story: Don’t overthink bold prints. Wear them minimally (but confidently) and you’ll never be “too much.”
7. Just Go All Out.
As a former shy girl that avoided prints because they announce your presence, patterns and I have come a very long way. Some occasions call for wearing full print on print or mixing prints, and I answer that call with delight. It’s not as dreadful as some may think. I particularly love that you can clash prints, making sure your outfit is truly unique. I admit, It can be tricky to pull off, a top tip is to put together the style of patterns or colors used, so that the two prints you are planning on wearing together almost match, but not quite.
S/O to my brother EAD ☝🏾
With all this being said, I of course maintain that you should only wear what YOU are most comfortable with. If you’ve been wary of prints or bright colors in your everyday life, I admonish you to get your feet wet a little and try it a little. I dare you to spice things up a bit and try something different.
Skirt: DIY by Me
Kimono Blouse: (SOLD OUT) Find alternative here
Black Pumps: (OLD) Find alternative here
Green Clutch Purse: OLD & GIFTED (sorry!)
So, what do you think about wearing bold prints? Is it a yes or no for you?
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While you’re at it, if you want to find some beautiful pieces to start with, email me directly or check out my online store ISIÓ for unique and elegant Africa-inspired clothing.