Despite my New York City–bred habit of wearing head-to-toe black on a fairly regular basis, I have to admit that some of the best pieces in my closet are the ones with allover prints—and not just your standard springtime florals or Breton stripes, but weirder ones, like a pair of Giles Deacon pants covered in a pattern inspired by the head of a screw, or an AllSaints dress in a fabric that looks like a watercolor painting.
Stepping outside your comfort zone when it comes to prints can be gratifying, something that no one knows better than designer Ellen Van Dusen, whose Dusen Dusen line has built a loyal following for its brightly colored, boldly patterned textiles. In any given season, these could range from a print strewn with honeycomb tiles to another covered in labyrinth-like Greek key. And miraculously, it's all totally wearable.
"I think the key to pulling off a bright/crazy print is all about picking something that feels very 'you' and you'll feel great in it," says Dusen. "An easy entrée into wearing bright prints could be by starting with florals or stripes and expanding from there." As for mixing prints, she says, "I like to dress on a theme, like stripes on stripes, florals on florals, etc."
So go forth and try something new—below, we've rounded up six prints we dare you to try for spring.
Squiggles and dots have come a long way from the days when they filled the margins of your history homework; now, they add a graphic touch to off-the-shoulder dresses and midi skirts. Some of the best this season have artistic provenances—Max Mara’s was inspired by Grace Jones’s “I’m Not Perfect” music video while Alice and Olivia’s is taken from Jean-Michel Basquiat’s cover for the hip-hop single “Beat Bop.”
Not big on subtlety? Wear a dress covered in kisses on your next first date. If that’s a little much for you, we also love Muveil’s more understated version paired with a classic white tee.
We may not miss geometry class, but all those trapezoids and isosceles triangles sure do look good on a minimalistic swimsuit or patterned wristlet.
An unusual print can breathe new life into a simple silhouette—and if you pick a one-and-done piece like a shirtdress, you take all the guesswork out of how to style it.
Whether you opt for rainbow hues or a monochrome palette, bold brushstrokes and watercolor designs are too good to leave hanging in a frame.
Less expected than leopard and more daring than standard stripes, zebra makes an impact even when deployed in small doses, like on a miniskirt or a pair of everyday Birkenstocks.
Keep an eye on your feed—you'll see these six items all over Instagram this summer.