Printed matters

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Layer as many patterns as possible to make the ultimate statement this
season. Here's how to do it on the high street, says Charlotte Owen

Listen carefully and you can hear the wily, straight-edged shadow of minimalism scampering off into the distance. That's because prints – bright and outrageous, fluffy and embossed, tidy and geometric – are back. And not as a top-to-toe solo performance. Instead of making a statement with one bold pattern, think in terms of the building blocks of your outift and layer stripes, checks and swirls.

More is More

Everyone loves an old classic… especially Meadham Kirchhoff. Gingham pinafores, lace shirts, sequined bustiers and glittery tights? Sure. Oversized furs, tinsel jackets, polka-dot blouses and goofy knitwear? Why not. This is a look where more is more. If piling it all on and layering into oblivion feels a bit much, take your lead from Issa's Paisley-print blouses teamed with cropped cartoonish trousers.

Textural tension

If garish prints in cartoon colours send you running for cover, then textured prints offer another way in. Think a kind of three-dimensional bricolage of jewels, embroidery and fluffy fabrics that creates a textured pattern. Channel Chanel with cross-hatched patterned tweed trousers alongside checked or striped bejewelled knitwear. Or if that's too proper then take a leaf out of Marc Jacobs's book with some grungy clutter – multicoloured Paisley prints, wool jackets and glittering tinsel scarves, all in oversized proportions. Bring it all together with an autumnal palette of burnt orange, bright pink and boozy purple.

Neat and Tidy

A sleeker silhouette may be more up your street, if so, go for tidy tailoring with a mix of tongue-in-cheek geometric prints, such as reworked Paisley, graphic squares, honeycomb grids… Don't be afraid of some primary colour and Warhol-esque brights. Illustration obsessive Mary Katrantzou, showed zingy clashing prints designed with a graphic spirit of ruler-like precision and calculated irregularity. Opt for tidy designs such as tailored cigarette pants, a soft silk shirt or a lightweight knit.

Closer than close

Is it the ultimate clash or ultimate cop-out? Tone down (or up) the clash by rocking prints that are as similar to each other as possible. Take Basso & Brooke's houndstooth prints against triangular checks, or Miu Miu's layers of caramel square and circular checks. Go for prints that are enigmatic variations on a reassuringly common theme: wide stripes with pencil-thin ones or ditzy florals against broad, painterly, expansive blooms. They're from the same gene pool and can be best of friends, but sometimes they clash like hell.

Life and Style
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