Tuesday, 18 September 2012

How to Wear... Florals

Florals are fast becoming perennial, at least in the fashion world...

Tops, Trousers and Skirts
Dresses and Cover Ups
A Few Hints on Flixing

Tops, Trousers and Skirts

The Floral Jeans
My second answer to that eternal imponderable - "What the hell do I wear with floral jeans?" (see my first response here). A sheer blouse and vintage-style shoes in a neutral palette make for a sweet, ladylike take on the look. If you're going to brave white jeans, a white top with some length and volume will minimise their thigh-widening effects, but a skinny waist belt allows you to retain waist definition for an hourglass silhouette. A similar look in darker tones would work well for AW.

Jeans: Primark (Past Season)
Shirt: Primark (SS12)
Shoes: Faith (Past Season)
Belt: Forever 21 (SS12)

The Pyjama Flix
Floral palazzos and a slouchy floral vest top equip you to fell the pyjama and flixing (floral mixing) challenges in one swoop. I added glittery sloafers for a camp-glam play on the nightwear feel.

Leaving the vest to drape loosely flatters those concerned about their waistlines, whilst tucking it in flatters hourglasses and gives a retro vibe. I eventually opted for what my mum terms "The Tom Daley" (half-tuck double back somersault in pike position, yah? Oh OK, just the first bit) - which defines the waist whilst retaining an undone-chic vibe which fits perfectly with the "pyjamas on the catwalk" feel.

Although the base tones and prints of the garments are different, the pink tones and similar print sizes unify the look, so that the lack of co-ordination appears effortlessly co-ordinated. For a more wintry alternative, dark-toned palazzos teamed with a kimono top will pair perfectly.

Top: Peacocks (Past Season)
Trousers: Primark (Past Season)
Shoes: Primark (AW12)

The Painted Rose
A full watercolour-print midi looks just as good teamed with a fitted knit picking out its floral tones, a pair of contrasting floral-print tights and colour pop courts, for a quirky-but-classy vintage-inspired AW look, as it does with a neutral-toned cropped tee for SS.
Skirt: Primark (Past Season)
Jumper: Primark (Past Season)
Tights: Accessorize (Past Season)
Shoes: Marks & Spencer (Past Season)

Coral Cutie
An outfit concoted specifically to show off my new statement floral boots to their best advantage. Having tried off-beat glamour and a tough denim-khaki combo, this look was all about the cute factor, although the shape of the boots gave it a "fashion" hit. I doubled up on florals to add interest, but unified the look by blending coral tones throughout. The relatively high neckline and slightly slouchy shape of the top keep it sweet.

Top: Peacocks (Past Season)
Skirt: ASOS (Past Season)
Boots: Primark (AW12)
Necklance: Primark (Past Season)

Dresses and Cover-Ups

The Ditzy Skater
Sweet vintage-style floral dresses are eternally stylish. A mini petticoat exaggerates a skater or lantern-style skirt section. Zingy colour-pop accessories picking out tonal highlights polish the look off and add punch. Alternatively, contrasting colours would add a quirky, eclectic touch. A cropped cardi and lacy tights are all that's necessary to take this look into the cooler months.

Dress: Matalan (Past Season)
Shoes: Office (Past Season)

The Statement Print Midi
A midi-lantern style really ramps up the retro vibe, but needs careful handling if you want to look more Pink Lady than Doris Day. I was actually a bit disappointed with this dress when it first dropped through my letterbox, thinking it had looked a lot better online, but with a few tweaks, I fell head over heels for it all over again.

It has a plain cotton underskirt trimmed with pink net, but was in desperate need of a boost from a real petticoat or two to plump it up and make the most of the full skirt. You don't necessarily need net tutu-type things - I layered two triple-layered chiffon rara-type skirts underneath (mini rather than midi length, but this enables them to work for almost all skirt lengths; I have one in cream and one in black for situations in which colour is an issue, but here I just piled them both on for maximum oomph).

I added black lace floral-patterned ankle-highs for a cute but quirky twist, and topped the look off with a plum obi belt and T-bar wedges, to retain the vintage feel without adding too much girliness (as more pink might well have done!).

Dress: ASOS (Past Season)
Petticoats (under dress): Primark (Past Season)
Belt: H&M (Past Season)
Socks: Primark
Shoes: Marks & Spencer (AW12)

The Pinafore
This sort of looks like something a Beatrix Potter bunny would wear, but the lantern shape gives it an interesting edge (with my trusty mini petticoat called in once again to keep the structure from crumpling). I tend to team it with classic neutrals, as I find colour makes it too cute. It works just as well with a skinny knit and opaques as a classic white shirt or tee and bare legs (but I let the braces hang loose when teaming with a shirt, or else I feel like I should be on a hill singing something from the Sound of Music).

Pinafore: Primark (Past Season)
Look 1 - Shirt: Miss Selfridge (Past Season); Collar: Topshop; Necklace: Primark (Past Season); Shoes: Primark (Past Season)
Look 2 - Jumper: Jane Norman (Past Season); Shoes: New Look (Past Season)

Oriental Flower
Oriental-style blooms are having a major fashion moment this AW (and always look elegant coupled with the right styling anyway) - silky tunic and chinoiserie style dresses look great with obi belts and layered with contrasting floral-print kimono cover-ups. The mini length of this dress adds modernity, but the soft plum courts, cream lace tights and limited colour palette keep it classy.

Dress: Primark (SS12)
Belt: H&M (Past Season)
Tights: Accessorize (Past Season)
Shoes: Marks & Spencer (Past Season)
Kimono: Primark (Past Season)

The Statement Kimono
The kimono (whose possibilities will be explored further in a later post), is also your best friend for adding sophisticated impact to a simple black ensemble. I've added contrasting floral print tights (but retained a dark base tone throughout the look so as not to jar the eye too much) for a chic but quirky twist, but black opaques and polished courts would also work well for a more formal feel.

Dress: eBay (originally Primark)
Kimono: Primark (Past Season)
Tights: Accessorize (Past Season)
Shoes: Dorothy Perkins (Past Season)

A Few Hints on Flixing
When mixing florals with other prints, or block colours, unless your goal is to jolt and shock, some element(s) should unify your separates - such as similar print size and/or tones. Exact print matches conjure up a cute vintage vibe which is still beautifully on-trend, but a bit of contrast makes for a cool, individual look.

Larger prints and lighter base tones hog attention and maximise size, whilst darker base tones and smaller, ditzy-type prints minimise, so use these principles to your advantage to maximise and/or minimise certain areas as desired.

Block-coloured accessories, such as belts and shoes, can effectively break up an all-over floral ensemble, increasing impact, focusing attention, and adding a contemporary touch.

Tomorrow: How to Wear Animal Print

See more posts featuring florals here

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  1. Hi Sam! Wonderful, beautiful and well produced post - really love it!

    Floral patterns motifs textiles and outfits are amongst the most feminine and cute resources that can be applied to women's fashion conception, since long time. How many garments could be so lovely as, for instance , floral dresses and kimonos are? Personally, I'm a great enthusiast and admirer of it :)

    All the best,

    PS: Your idea to explore kimono's possibilities furthermore is great, by the way... :)

    1. Thank you Flávio! Really pleased you enjoyed it, it's lovely to hear your comments :) I'm going to work on the kimono post for next week ;)