Wearing Print On Print: A Sustainable Indian Fashion Guide

How to wear a print on print outfit? Where is that fine line between intelligent and insane? This is a definitive style guide, a conclusion to #PrintOnPrintChallenge (the past week on my Instagram) that reveals my styling secrets for mixing prints and patterns in one outfit with ease. All of my outfits are slow, sustainable, artisanal fashion from India – my existing followers already know that’s all I primarily wear – but I’m positive my theories are adaptable quite easily over any aesthetic that you may prefer!

  • Using Colour to Your Advantage

This is the most important skill. Seemingly, your outfit is a print on print. But there’s always a method to madness – and my method is a clever trick of colour. Hints and accents of a certain colour can be matched among two different prints, which makes them flow together much better. The safest possible way to do this – a black and white meets a black and white. Quite foolproof, quite easy. The next level from here? Find that one common colour or undertone or accent among your prints and that is what will tie them together!

print on print
All of these outfits have different prints with the same colour palette put together, making print mixing them an easy affair
A Sneaky Approach: These are two very different prints, one sparse and one busy. However, the blue lotus flowers in the kota-doria handloom dupatta (scarf) are quite the same in color as the blue accents in that busy-busy handblock printed Ajrakh kurta. Adding blue cotton palazzo pants and a blue purse further highlights the presence of this blue connection, making it a stronger statement!
  • The Right Balance of Clash and Match

Just like in the outfit above, it’s fun to sneakily slip in some matchey-matchey. All of that clashing is cleverly balanced by some semblance of matching. The observer won’t know what hit them, how are you doing print on print and YET looking so perfectly put together? Use colours, or prints, accessories or any similarity you can think of to also include an element of matching to accompany the element of clashing. This is an intelligent way to make print on print work beautifully.

Without accessories, this pomegranate block printed overlay would be mismatched and nonsensical. The indigo dress that has sacred geometry flowers, and both are handblock prints of Rajasthan. Adding sandals and a purse that match the blue, along with yellow earrings with a strategic little blue peacock was helpful in tying this look together.

 

My earrings exactly match the print on this dress, and their little silver bell is complemented by a statement silver ring. The panelled kurta has multiple Ajrakh prints, complemented by the Ajrakh border on a strikingly turquoise Shibori tie dyed dupatta. My bindi matches the turquoise dupatta, for it was lonely without an accompanient! Strategic matches soften the blow of a super busy and intricate mismatch.
  • Birds of a Feather Go Together

I’m being specific to my particular aesthetic here – I love wearing slow, handmade, artisanal fashion that hails from my land’s textile heritage. For those of you who are also into Indian fashion, my best go-to is layering crafts together. An ikat with an ikat, a Jaipuri Block Print with another Jaipuri Block Print, a Shibori with another Shibori. One of the BEST examples for this is Ajrakh (like the image above), an ancient hand block printed textile of Kutch, India. All the Ajrakh that exists is naturally dyed from a fixed directory of herbs, therefore there are only a limited range of colours in Ajrakh’s color palette. Pretty much every Ajrakh garment will always match with another Ajrakh because they share a signature aesthetic.

Those of you who do not wear Indian textiles can interpret it this way – prints that belong to a particular ‘family’ are likely to go together with ease and look like a conscious style decision. Stripes with stripes, abstract with abstract, florals with similar florals, geometry with geometry, you get the picture.

(Left) Woven stripes on a cotton top pair with handblock printed stripes on Ajrakh pants. All that stripery is interrupted by a solid obi belt, just for chic! (Right) Both the top and saree, if observed closely, have very similar curvy vines all over the – this aesthetic similarity makes them work together. They both also have a warm, ochre undertone in colour.
  • The Main Source of Wisdom

Your inner artist – your creative instinct – has always been gently nudging you to try a certain pairing (until rudely snubbed by your logical brain with, “You don’t know anything about fashion, you can’t make your own style decisions”). Listen to your intuition, the creative side of your mind is far more experienced in images and visuals than the side that thinks in words. The creative side of your mind is also super fashionable, if only you get out of it’s way. I had no rhyme or reason to pair these particular pieces together, but I just did because seeing them together somehow arose an intuitive “Yes!” in me. Maybe it’s because all three are lush, rich colours. It just sparked joy, and so I wore it. Do this often!

Handblock print meets handblock print, in deep and lush colours! A small sense of matching is incorporated by pairing golden earrings to complement that gorgeous golden border typical to a Maheshwari Saree.     
Print on Print with Slow Fashion Sarees! Ikat, Kota Doria, Handblock Printed Cotton and Maheshwari Handloom come together to create a pattern mixed Saree Styling Series.

 

For the first one, I was inspired by the similarity in colour palette between that handloom ikat top and block printed kota doria saree. Wearing silver mirrored pieces for jewelry helped in adding a sense of match with my clash. 
This earthy pairing of a block print top and kota doria saree was matched by the aesthetic and warm undertones, as described in Tip 3.
This was a product of following what I fancied – no sense involved!

If you’d like to know the sources for all the garments and jewellery I’m wearing in these posts, comment below with what you’d like to find out about. I do hope my print mixing tips come in handy for the upcoming festive season, you can tag me @oorja.revivestyle on Instagram to share your experiments – I’d love to see them!

Did you enjoy this post? Do comment and/or share, it helps and how! I’ll be super grateful. Keep the sustainable styling going strong, happy mixing!

 

 

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