Some day my prints will come
As a recovering goth, I've thought a lot about colour over the years, and I've had to wean myself onto it. In case you're wondering, teal was my starter colour, and I'm still coming to terms with yellow. When all you wear is black, you don't think about colour so much as texture, weight and drape. Prints never came into it – in fact, my first forays into mixed colours were textural, being woven fabrics like tartan and brocade. However, in recent years I've really revelled in my summer prints. They seem to have several things in common…
Larger-scale print or ditsy, I like clear prints. The prints I favour all look like they could be block-printed. Every once in a while I'll come across a 'painted'-looking one I like, usually a rose pattern, but on the whole I favour distinct and separate colours.
2 Lots of colours
I generally like a print to have at least two colours, not counting black and white. There are exceptions – Goody blogged a fab Marimekko top recently that was in black, white and cobalt blue – but in general, if I'm going to wear colours, there might as well be plenty of them. Shades of the same colour are fine, as long as they don't run into each other.
3 Distinct shapes
If something's too big, or too abstract, to identify, I probably won't go for it. It's hard to put this one into words, but I like shapes I can make sense of, even if those shapes are simple geometrics. I guess I need to be able to work out the pattern repeat. If a print is really large-scale to the point where it looks random on a garment, that's not for me. I think one of the things that puts me off a lot of prints seen on the modern high street, especially ones aimed at older women, is that they're usually black, white and a colour, and formless.
4 Geometry over novelty
Novelty prints are huge in the vintage scene, but I don't enjoy wearing many of them. I love them on other people, it's just that prints often say something about the wearer. I'm not a tropical fruit or teacups sort of person, and I'll almost never consider wearing anything with a person depicted on it. (That said, I am an absolute sucker for all and any retro Halloween prints.) Geometric art deco or atomic patterns are exactly my cup of tea.
So, do you have a preferred sort of print? Are you polka-dot potty, or crazy for sausage dog prints? (Melanie, the minute I think of you, I think of flamingoes!) Are there any you avoid? I know the 'Cath Kidston' school of 40s-style florals has its knockers, but I quite like them, and I have both her trains and robots duvet covers for my bed, whereas I'd never wear pin-up print anything. It's fascinating how personal print choices can be!
Oh, and here's an exception to all my rules, because rules are made to be broken...