The Best Prints for Every Body Type (Women)

As a student of patterns and construction, I’ve always found that that well-finished patterns can do wonders for a woman’s body. I love prints, whether it’s architecture, floral, painterly, or futuristic. It’s rightly said that the bigger the scale, the better for the print to stand out. But too much print can be overwhelming too, and much of its impact has to do with your shape. Let’s learn about different body types and the prints that enhance each of them.


LEAN A flat chest, narrow shoulders, small waist and narrow hips define lean body types. High-waisted bottomwear will highlight your hips and combining it with prints and pleats will create an illusion of curves around the lower part of the body. There really is such a thing as too much print, so limit them to measured proportions.


APPLE If you’re broader around the mid-section, go for silhouettes that have a slimming effect on your waist. Drapes, minimal pleats, and deep necks help avoid a top-heavy look. A printed top paired with a plain bottom, or scattered prints create the best optical illusion your body can ask for. Stay away from kitschy patterns, but checkered or houndstooth motifs, birds/animal prints, and abstracts are flattering.


PEAR In this case, the upper body is smaller and narrower than the hips. A ruffled top placed above the waist would do wonders to shift attention to your torso. Avoid loud or bold prints. Long skirts, separates, and midi dresses in vintage patterns and subtle prints are ideal for you. Try abstract patterns or old-school florals in a monochromatic palette.


Hourglass When your body weight is well distributed on the right places—the highlight is a defined waist—an overall print is easy to showcase. Bold gowns, jumpsuits, palazzo pants, or a fitted skirt will accentuate your figure. Floral prints are the key to look good when it comes to a neat hourglass frame. 


Rectangle Straight shoulders, straight hips and bottom, low waist definition, and a near flat tummy represent such figures. Opt for wide-leg trousers, with pleats on the lower section. Vertical stripes, florals, and artsy motifs will create the illusion of movement. Don’t be afraid of bright colours and prints. Balance kitschy patterns with understated colour schemes.


Inverted Triangle With a wider upper body and broad shoulders, the bottom and waist here tends to be subtle. Pick silhouettes and patterns that create a voluminous effect on the lower half. Highlight your figure with an all-over print in sharp monochromes. Embellished tops or a flowing gown will accentuate your waist and divert attention from the flatter lower portions.

Print mixing is on-trend, and some prints can be combined to stunning effect. Think polka dots with florals, or checks with stripes. But it’s crucial to achieve a balance—mixing floral motifs with geometric shapes or art can sometimes end very badly. Above all, avoid a colour clash; if you opt for 2-3 colours on a plain top, add no other on the printed bottom. Too many shades is an eyesore and can turn the most promising look into a gaudy one.

For those intimidated by print on print, add layers or structures in solid hues. Animal prints paired with striped or graphic shapes make for a classic look. The key to using prints to their optimum effect lies in understanding one’s body type. Get the combination of patterns and colours right and you can be sure of a printastic look every time.

Check Shainah Dinani’s collections on her website.

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