Patterns & Prints Guide: Expert Styling & Mixing in Fashion
The density of the pattern means the amount of coverage versus negative space. It ranges from low to high depending on the negative space between the elements.
The scale of the pattern defines the size of the pattern. The smaller the pattern, the easier it is to wear. Generally, larger patterns are recommended for taller individuals, or they can be placed in the areas where you might need volume.
The contrast is a result of combining dark and light colours or colours that are far away on the colour wheel. The greater the difference between the colours, the high is the value of contrast in that pattern. Low contrast patterns and prints are easier to wear and mix rather than high contrast ones. Strong contrast makes the area appear larger. If you naturally have high contrast in your features, then you can use higher contrast patterns and prints.
The order/layout of the pattern determines if the pattern is orderly arranged/structured or loosely/randomly across the garment.
Saturation defines the intensity or purity of the colours used in that pattern. The scale is between muted/soft and bright/clear.
All-over patterns have no negative space; the entire garment is covered with patterns such as plaids, stripes, dots, and checks.
Patterns vs Prints
Often the terms PATTERN and PRINT are used incorrectly but they are not the same. Printed patterns are very different from woven patterns.
A PATTERN is any repeated design, such as a floral, geometric, medallion, etc. It can be woven into a fabric or printed on top.
A PRINT is a pattern, however, it is not woven into the fabric but applied to the top with dye by various methods such as digital printing or screen printing.
Try flipping the fabric over to the backside, if you can no longer see the pattern, it is probably a print. When in doubt, refer to fabrics with a design as a pattern, because ALL prints are patterns, but not all patterns are prints!.