It’s a well-established fact that I am fond of colourful style and included in that are colourful prints, classic prints, and prints of all kinds. But the lackluster response on Instagram lately has me wondering if I’m out to lunch when it comes to prints, if they look dated and tired on a 40-something-year-old woman. I’ve been asking myself: are prints still in style in 2020? I set out to find the answer through thorough scientific research (i.e., Pinterest, Twitter, and Google) and share my findings here!

examples of prints prepared by a quilter
I conducted my research in the company of My Quilting Fairy who mixes bold prints on the daily.

Designer prints

I’ve been reading fashion mags since I was a teen and it seems to me that every season showcases designer prints in some form or another. In fact, the more bold and contrasting, the higher the fashion.

Versace 2020 look
Versace Spring 2020 collection.
Chanel Spring 2020 printed dress
From the Chanel Spring 2020 collection.
Dolce and Gabbana Summer 2020 runway look featurng fruit and polka dot print top and yellow pants
Dolce & Gabbana Summer 2020

I liked this post on Glowly which shows that pretty much any print goes including the classics like animal print, polka dots, florals, plaid, and stripes and others like tie-dye, rainbow, and psychedelic. So, prints ARE still in style but what makes them modern for 2020? Most of us can’t afford designer fashion that presumably reflects the latest and greatest trends, fabrics, and tailoring, and we don’t want to wear cheap knock-offs either. What’s an ordinary gal to do?

Boring prints

We end up getting affordable prints from everyday brands which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. After all, these brands follow designer trends and make them more accessible.

Reitmans butterfly print blouse
Perfectly fine butterfly print top by Canadian retailer Reitmans.
Soft Surroundings yellow stripe top.
Soft Surroundings offers pieces that are generously cut and soft indeed, but I find them to be aging every time I try one on.
Geometric print brand by Talbots.
Talbots is a favoured brand of professional women offering quality garments with nice tailoring.

Whatever is in the mall usually ends up in the thrift stores so these are the pieces secondhand shoppers usually find. The problem, no matter where we purchase our prints, is that we tend to wear them in a boring way. THERE I SAID IT. 95% of the time, we wear a printed top with jeans or neutral pants, maybe with a neutral or matching finishing layer and even maybe-er with accessories. We might reverse the formula and wear a printed skirt with a neutral top or we might wear a printed dress with neutral shoes and neutral accessories. The result IMHO is meh.

You can make the argument that it looks classic but I yawn past such looks even if I’m the one wearing them! You can make the argument that a “uniform” saves time and energy when shopping and getting dressed, leaving more for other pursuits; fair, but could not the same formula be executed with more prints and colour? A recent post by Who What Wear calls these looks “basic” (in a positive way) and I have to agree (in a not-so-positive way!). After reading that post, I couldn’t help but wonder if part of the “chic basic” aesthetic comes from the fact that every example features a thin person and relatively pricey pieces. What about average or plus-sized people with a small budget?

Stylish prints

I believe stylish prints for all sizes can be procured from secondhand sources and then we – YES, ordinary every-sized women – can wear them in a stylish modern way! Here’s how:

 1. Make at least one part of your outfit a statement.

It doesn’t have to be the print but it could be! If not the print, wear at least one other piece that is NOT neutral. Some examples of mine from Instagram…

The Spirited Thrifter in gingham pants and a bright yellow top.
For example, I wore a bright yellow top as the statement with my printed pants.
Black top, jeans, printed kimono and red pointy flats to answer the question: are prints still stylish?
My printed kimono is a statement piece but the red pointy flats add more punch!
Are prints still in style? YES when they are worn with confidence with at least one statement piece.
This comfy outfit was akin to public pajamas but the red bag adds the statement it needs to not be meh.
Red polka dot maxi skirt with a black top and denim jacket featured in "Are prints still in style in 2020?"
Here the classic polka dot print maxi skirt in red IS the statement. This is an Anthropologie skirt that I got off Poshmark. Definitely still in style!
Printed Maeve skirt with black top answering whether prints are still in style in 2020 - YES!
This colourful printed skirt is the statement but again, I like to add colourful shoes and accessories to enhance the vibe (er, and satisfy my matchy-matchy heart)!
Are prints still in style in 2020? YES. Olive pants, printed blouse, pink blazer and blue shoes - all thrifted.
One way to make a statement is to include contrasting colours in your ensemble like I did here, making the printed piece the second-fiddle. Similarly, you can mix prints, even neutral coloured prints, to push them into statement territory.

2. Wear confidence.

PRINTS ARE IN STYLE so you can wear them with the assurance that the highest fashion houses are doing the same. I binge-watched  Next In Fashion and I loved it! I loved the competitors, I loved seeing them support each other till the end instead of conniving, I loved the bold designs, and I loved the messaging throughout the show:

Just have fun with prints!

Fashion that looks beautiful and is wearable is never wrong.

With confidence, you can make anything work.

I loved it so much I forgave them for the token use of plus-sized models in just one episode. Baby steps. One only has to look as far as Pinterest to see plenty of examples of women of all ages and all sizes wearing prints and statement pieces with so much confidence it’s contagious!

Allison Kimmey wearing a leopard print skirt with green blouse.
Allison Kimmey is an icon of confidence wrought through years of diet culture and disordered eating and body image. Her Instagram is a MUST FOLLOW and she embodies stylish prints perfectly!
Plus size blogger wearing striped shirt, plaid pants and blush pink jacket and bag.
Do prints make us look bigger? WHO CARES? Just wear what makes you happy because happy looks beautiful.
The Lion Hunter wearing a printed top with plaid blue skirt. Looking fine.
This combo of prints makes a stunning statement. If you’re not feeling confident in your prints, gaze upon the Lion Hunter and be INSPIRED!
Woman wearing a mustard midi skirt with gold slides and a blue striped top to answer the question: are stripes still in style in 2020?
Who can trifle with a woman in a mustard skirt?! NO ONE! Here, the striped top is secondary to the perfect skirt, worn boldly WITH A NECKLACE AND EARRINGS and looking fab!

Are prints still in style in 2020? YES YES YES!

My highly scientific conclusion is that prints of all kinds are most decidedly still in style in 2020 and they look amazing! I don’t know why my Instagram posts aren’t garnering the love those thrifted prints deserve but no matter. I feel confident in them, I love to make a statement, and I hope to inspire other women to do the same!

xoxo Nicole

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Pin graphic for "Are Prints Still in Style in 2020?" by The Spirited Thrifter

1 Comment

  1. Looking at your photos, I noticed prints look good when they are bright or mixed with bright colours (or is that just on you!). Love that kimono and shoes ❤️

    Thrifting is a great way to experiment with patterns, although I don’t always have the imagination required to pick out prints that will look good. I tend to stick to checks, houndstooth, stripes and polka dots.

    Prints on cheap materials or shoddy sewing can look terrible, so best to stick to better quality.

    Now I’ll try not to wear them in a boring way! Thanks for the inspiration.