While the weather may still be delivering some proverbial April showers, we are currently seeing an early crop of May flowers-or floral-print dresses to be more precise-popping up on some of our favorite fashionable ladies. Each spring, frocks festooned with pretty petals make an appearance; however, this year we are seeing decidedly sophisticated blossoms toughened up with black accents, utilitarian outerwear, or worn as a flowery flourish on a simple, neutral outfit. To help you cultivate your own blooming ensemble, we have gathered six vibrant specimens for today's installment of How They Wear, in hopes that you, too, will be inspired to add unfussy florals into your transitional wardrobe.
The relationship between flowers and fashion is a bountiful one: Coco Chanel's love of camellias, a white rose worn in Diana Vreeland's hair, and Carrie Bradshaw with her oversized carnation pins are all well-documented examples. If you're interested in creating a memorable floral-centric fashion moment of your own, there are a few basic guidelines to follow. First of all, color is key: a bright flowery pattern is great, as long as it isn't too frenetic. Whether you pick a short selection that shows off your stems or a longer version for a more formal event, make sure to choose a flattering shape for your body. And finally, let the floral print be the focal point of your outfit. If you do decide to mix prints, opt for another flowery piece in a complementary color scheme. Otherwise, keep the rest of your choices simple: no matter how tasteful your selections are, mixing flowers with stripes or plaid is for advanced style aficionados only!
Black and Bright
When wearing a floral dress, you can add a touch of whimsy with a an additional pop of a bright solid color, as long as the look is anchored with some basic black pieces. At the fittingly named Blossom Ball Benefit in New York, Helena Christensen opted for Thakoon's Walking Rose Billow Dress ($1150) with a scarlet, strappy shoe. She smartly balanced the hyper-hued combo with a black bow belted at her natural waist and a simple structured bag with metallic detail. The overall effect is fresh without being egregiously girly. To get Christensen's look, try mixing Essentials by ABS' Floral Printed Cap Sleeve Dress ($100) with Forever 21's Faux Leather Bow Belt ($8). Peaches Geldof chose Jeremy Scott's Court Dress ($495, 212.219.2688) in Floral Flight for the designer's F/W 09 show in Paris. While the full-skirt, and roses-mixed-with-airplanes print certainly makes a bold statement, Geldof also racked up the flair with a pointy pair of hot pink patent pumps. This look could have easily veered into the frightening land of kitsch, but she was able to steer clear of looking costume-y by grounding her choices with a pair of black opaque tights. Jeremy Scott's Floral Body Suit ($305) or Topshop's Floral Prom Dress ($98) would work well with a bright accessory as long as the look is anchored with simple black accents. The result is daring and darling, without looking overdone or sickeningly saccharine.
Tough as Thorns
Another way to avoid a potentially prissy look is to mix your floral fare with menswear-inspired separates and substantial heels. Charlotte Ronson wore a floral frock from the Summer 09 collection of her eponymous line (Minkpink's Floral Strapless Dress ($88) would also do the trick) with an I Heart Ronson Seaweed Military Jacket ($20) to the launch event for her collaboration with JC Penney. The army jacket de-sweetens the pastel print of her shorter selection, creating a masculine-feminine mix we love! Another way to achieve a tough-chic balance with a delicate floral dress is to add an on-trend boyfriend blazer, as Zoe Kravitz demonstrated at the New York premiere of Mysteries of Pittsburgh. The dark, oversized jacket is the perfect piece to help you transition a horticultural pattern-like Free People's Floral Canal Street Top ($108)-into an evening outfit. If you refuse to wear outerwear, just focus on your footwear and take a page from Erin Wasson's style guide. The queen of grunge-chic added some signature edge to her blossoming blue Erin Wasson x RVCA Slideshow Dress ($155) by wearing a strong, pair of black heels. Her creepers from Phi's Fall 09 collection add a punk element to her fitted mini.
For those of you allergic to the idea of a full-on floral get-up, there are some great accessories available that will allow you to add a touch of this trend without making you look like a Rose Parade float! Leigh Lezark, known for her almost exclusively monochromatic clothing, donned a garden-inspired patchwork Alexandre Herchcovitch shrug to the designer's F/W 09 show. Worn in conjunction with a nude dress from Herchcovitch's S/S 09 collection, she was able to add a bit of blossoming femininity to her otherwise understated outfit. Try See by Chloe's Floral Print Scarf ($175) or Topshop's Floral Print Ladderweave Scarf ($32) to help your outfit stand out from the garden variety, and allow you to get a tasteful take on this spring's blooming trend!-Kate Mulling
Photos of Peaches Geldof and Erin Wasson, from Getty Images; Photos of Leigh Lezark, from Splash.