Fashion Over 50: My Personal Rules About Prints

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We had an interesting discussion a couple of days ago over a floral print jacket…some of you hated it, some loved it, some wanted to change the shade of the colors, and some found the jacket to be aging.  I would have fallen into the latter category.  But, the point here is to show that we each have our own individual preferences when it comes to prints.  I really prefer to wear them for work as I am doing here…either in a tank or an accessory.  For casual, I will wear prints more often in a kimono.

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I have found that, for me, most floral jackets or toppers do make me feel frumpy and older.  I even feel that way in most polka dots…but not all.  Usually, this has to do with styling and fit.  I prefer to control my prints.  I have owned this tank for at least six years…I like the interesting detail on the tank and it goes with all my neutrals.  When wearing something like this print (especially with detailing), I do not wear alot of jewelry.  It can be just too much.

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The print jackets I love the most are leopard prints and geometric designs.  But, I only have one or two of those.  Traditionally, you will see me in a solid or a neutral like this which keeps me feeling confident, youthful, and modern.   However, I do own several print camis or tank tops or blouses to place under those jackets.

Is there a particular print which makes you feel older or frumpy?  If so, please share about it.  Also, remember this week I am pulling looks from my closet and wearing them in new ways for summer.  I have not worn this tank with blue before…but I do like it!  I have put together a slide show of some fun ways to wear prints below!  Please leave your thoughts………..and, of course…………….


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  1. First of all, I really like your blue jacket. That shade of blue is beautiful and goes perfectly with the black and white top underneath. I like black with that shade of blue! Your slideshow features prints in a way that I would wear them. I have floral skirts (which tend to have interesting designs, not tiny flowers but more abstract)and the scarves are a perfect way to pull in a print. Floral jackets don’t work for me because they do make me feel old and frumpy. On the other hand I love stripes and polka dots (understated on the dots!)but they just don’t work as an all-over pattern (for me). You know how you just know when you look or feel frumpy? I think that having a sense of that goes a long way in the dressing rooms at stores and also looking through the closet. Sometimes I’ll put something on and stand back with a critical eye and take it right back off as it skids into the frumpy category. Yet it might work in another way and be great. We have to have that sense of what is frumpy to our eye. I truly like all three skirts that are in your slideshow! And I like your black flats very much!

  2. Every Summer I look at all the lovely prints but I rarely buy anything – and when I do it usually ends up being a mistake and something that I take back or give away. My 3 exceptions are tops – all shades of blue – that are variations on a paisley. I love them, feel good wearing them and often get compliments on them.
    I also wear stripes, gingham and polka dots but floral prints or abstract prints just aren’t on my radar. I feel frumpy in them and being short & round, I just don’t find them flattering. Lovely to look at but not for wearing.

    1. I am the same way Margie! I have purchased many prints I regretted. When I make sure to ask myself what I am communicating about me with the garment I am less likely to make a mistake. I need to try paisley on…haven’t tried it in a long time. Thanks so much!

  3. You look great in this outfit! I don’t wear a lot of prints, but this is an outfit that would work for me.

  4. Yes, you wear it well!
    It’s funny how patterns on clothing can evoke memories or conjure up different perceptions about the wearer of such.

    I love small floral prints but larger patterns are off limits to me. Also, it has to do with proportion and as I’m small framed, large prints look overwhelming on me.

  5. I like the black print top on you! I don’t mind pattern tops but they have to be graphic (or geometric) patterns. Paisleys will work, dots will work. All over floral prints do not. I just ask myself ‘would my very stylish stepdaughter wear this?’ while in the dressing room. If the answer is no, then back it goes. Solids are less memorable too so you can rewear them more often!

  6. I prefer prints in the same way you do, except for the kimonos, which are a little too flyaway for me. I like florals in my third layer -if- the third layer is shaped and fitted, and one or two of those are enough in my closet. Poka dots most of the time make a person look larger, as they get the eye moving at an angle, much in the same way diamonds or argyle does. My main rule for prints is to wear them in a scarf, which is not practical in the heat. So I end up with a pair of lightweight pants in black, navy or white (newly! … thank you for inspiring me to just go for them) and a sold or striped top. I try to wear statement necklaces. But I too then feel pretty uninspired. If manufacturers offered more substantial fabrics and a better fit, I would buy more summer clothes, but cotton fabrics in particular seem to get thinner and thinner.

  7. First, let me congratulate you on your new grandson–I thought you would take a longer break, so am just now checking back… I don’t really think too much about prints. This spring I found a floral top from J Jill that I like, as well as, a pair of linen pants that have a floral/palm print. In general I gravitate towards solids. I have not, as yet, felt particularly frumpy in the items I’ve tried. I guess I’ve been lucky. I think your B&W print is a good choice as it could go with so many bright solids.

    1. Thanks Kim…taking off a week for me was a big step. I enjoyed my time with them and will see them again soon!

  8. I think black and white prints are almost the exception to the “prints are aging” rule. I love floral scarves, but the summer heat makes them impossible to wear for me. I do abide by the “3 rule” and find that a print floral piece can be worn well if accompanied by 2 solids. Because I love print tops to disguise “middle puff” I find minimal (2 or 3 color) prints less aging. The royal blue is wonderful on you.

  9. You look great, Pamela! Love printed shoes! Just returned from London! Noted fashion trends in museums and the central cultural areas include the b&w stripe you show in a skirt here. However, the vertical, wide, stripe was worn in palazzo-style flowing pants, fitted waist. Tucked in, fitted, white 3/4 sleeved top. Also, long, narrow tops, but loose skirted, shirt-waist dresses, and skirts with cute chunky, colorful sneakers. Young people smoke alot, ugh. Saw bright red lips and no eye makeup on the young, or no makeup, beautiful skin. Long hair. No fantasy hair color like here. I was not in pubs (honest!) where it was probably different.

  10. My aversion to certain prints has much to do with memories connected to them. I could never wear anything navy with tiny white polka dots as a I had a grade school teacher who wore a dress like that at least twice a week. She was not a favorite teacher. Paisley prints take me back to the late 60’s & early 70’s. When I put them on, I feel as if I am trying to recapture my lost youth.

    1. You are not the only one that connects prints to memories, Becky. Thanks for sharing. When I was teaching, I often had students comment on my clothing and it just reminded me how closely they pay attention. One of my students called me the scarf lady…hmmmm, I wonder if she wears scarves as an adult. Will have to Facebook her!!

  11. As I’ve gotten older (48 this year), I have embraced prints more. I haven’t seen the original post yet – I just got here. Loud florals are definitely not my thing. I find I keep my new-found love of prints for summer dresses. Winter is all about solids.

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