Meet The Telegraph's Timeless Style columnist, Anna Harvey: the Ex-Vogue deputy editor, consultant to Princess Diana and author of Timeless Style: dressing well for the rest of your life (£12.89, Double-Barrelled Books).
Many women’s hearts will sink at the news that print and pattern are on-trend this spring, I know. Mine does. For while I really love a print, like many people I find it hard to know how to wear them.
When I think of prints, I think first of my mother’s cushions and curtains which were mainly floral chintz. But of course, prints don’t have to be floral, they can be of anything at all - in fact, this season’s prints might better be called patterns. There are geometric, striped, checked, leopard and tropical patterns in the shops for spring/summer.
Roseburg wrap dress, £190, Ganni; Mixed print dress, £325, Rixo
In spite of my reservations, I enjoy experimenting with prints. I don’t think age comes into whether they suit one or not. Anyone, at any age, can wear a pattern; if in doubt just don’t be over-adventurous. An all-over printed look is tricky to pull off and so I recommend pairing them with something plain and simple - perhaps leave the head-to-toe Brazilian jungle print look to the birds.
Tall women in particular need to beware of embracing pattern too enthusiastically, as it can be overpowering. Smaller, slight women may find it easier to wear the total printed look but smaller patterns are easier to carry off than large, full-blown flowery ones, whatever your build or height.
Printed shirt, £45, Monsoon; Printed loafers, £95, Dune London; Mini gingham bag, £89, & Other Stories; Chevron print trousers, £275, Jigsaw
If you’re keen to give print a try but are nervous of overdoing it, two-toned patterns are easier to wear, being less of a statement than a print of many colours (though I love these, too). A large pattern can look wonderful, but requires a lot of confidence to carry off. Many years ago, I invested in a bold blue and white patterned cotton Jil Sander dress which I can only wear when I’m feeling at my best for this reason.
But don’t be afraid of print. A favourite designer of mine is Duro Olowu, a master of print and pattern. Edina Ronay also has a lovely array of florals waiting to be made to measure to fit you. And there are many good, not overly expensive, labels to look at this spring as well. There are a lot of dresses about - try & Other Stories, Rixo, Monsoon, daydress.co.uk, and Mango. For roses (a perennial classic), you couldn’t do better than choose or be inspired by Dolce & Gabbana; you’ll find their influence in prints all along the high street, and Ganni has particularly good options.
Alternatively, accessories are a subtle way to include pattern in your wardrobe; shoes can look pretty as a foil for a simple, plain dress, as can a 1950s-style patterned neckerchief, as worn by Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina. Either is a nod to the trend but won’t leave you worrying that you look like you’re wearing the curtains.