Spring Trend – Lost In Translation

Spring Pants

One of the spring trends that has gotten a lot, and I mean a lot, of editorial and retail coverage is the printed pant.  The runways in September were full of them – at many design houses and in nearly every cut – super skinny crops and even shorts at Jason Wu, Dolce and Gabana, and Pucci to my personal favorite – flowy palazzos as seen at Elizabeth and James, Missoni and Etro (my personal favorites – GORGEOUS prints).  Some designers even went so far as to create full head to toe looks that left Fashionistas inspired.   

However, this may be one of those fashion trends that are be a bit too “fashiony” for most women outside of Manhattan, Milan, Paris and possibly Miami.  Clearly it is a look that is truly Man Repeller worthy – many will look at those print bedecked pants and think they look like pajamas or are just plain weird.  So it is understandable and completely expected that when the spring retail season ramps up those jaw-dropping, audacious looks will be toned down.

Sadly, as with many highly conceptual trends, so far the translation has not been a universal success in the real world.  Now I know that bold head-to-toe patterned looks might be too much for most people but many of the muted floral and small scale geometric prints on denim or leggings on offer feel less like interpretation and more like a complete miss.  After scouring my favorite sources I have found a few gems, but the bulk of the garments on offer miss the mark. 

I know that buyers need garments that are saleable to a wide audience, but many of the colors and scaled-down prints are blah, and completely miss the sassy spirit of the runway looks.  That divine bold floral at Balenciaga has become a watered-down Little House on the Prairie-ish floral at Nordstrom and Macys.  How sad!  And then there is the execution – the way the prints end up on garments has produced some strange effects – with odd mismatching and unflattering placement of print.  This has been really disappointing as I loved the runway looks and was truly excited to see what the mainstream retailers would do. 

Now some are great – I did some prowling and found some I really love – like these divine Etro numbers.  Alice + Olivia and Elizabeth and James also have several palazzos I am in serious lust with – gosh I wish they made plus sizes!  The Jason Wu printed shorts are adorable, especially paired with a girly top; ditto the Anna Sui short which was shown with the matching top for a romper look that is fresh and flirty.  The cropped, narrow cut pants by Sandro Pressage and Clements Ribeiro evoke an Audrey Hepburn vibe with a modern twist in the bold colors and clever patterns. 

Wearing this look is going to be tricky – with pajama or palazzo pants looks can go from chic or ironic to just weird or sloppy, and skinny cuts in leopard print that will create fabulous “street” looks or may veer sharply to street walking.  To make this work, keep a few tips in mind:

  • When you put printed pants on take a big step back and look at the big picture – pattern placement and what the pattern’s effect is on your shape.  Are there weird lines, flowers in unflattering places, or do they make your legs look short or your body wide?  Make sure to take a critical look from both front and behind.
  • Select tops that play with proportions/color/coverage to offset any flaw-inducing features and to balance the overall effect. 
  • Be careful with cut.  Clearly this is key on fitted pants, but is even crucial on palazzos – don’t let the flowy lines fool you into thinking it’s not important.  Some versions, especially those with drawstrings or gathered waists create awkward volume or bunch at the tummy and crotch when you walk.  Make sure they are cut well and move well.
  • Unless you are super tall take care with oversized prints and horizontal elements in prints, especially with cropped versions, or the prints will “crop” you further.

It is early days yet this spring so I haven’t seen too many versions out and about; I will be curious to see how the trend makes it in the real world.  Meanwhile my first pair – a cute pair of black and white circle-print palazzos – is inbound so we will see if they are a hit or a miss.  I am hoping they are a hit and will be paired up with a cropped jacket and some platform espadrilles – a little modern, a little vintage.  Fingers crossed and I will keep you posted!

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