April 6, 2010

Chicago Manual of Style—4/6/2010

Everyone knows that April showers bring May flowers—but not just in gardens or window boxes. The spring season has always been the time when stores stock their shelves with floral prints ranging from demure daisies to heavy-duty hibiscuses, and this year the trend seems as prominent as ever.

This enduring trend is popular at price points from couture to chain stores, each with their own spin on the classic. For Spring 2010, high-end design houses like Chanel and Christian Dior showed thigh-grazing floral minidresses, and Dolce & Gabbana designed collarless jackets, boudoir-inspired satin shorts, and billowing blouses adorned with blooming peonies. While the floral print on these garments is rather bold, mid-range chain stores like J. Crew are selling items with more diminutive blossoms. J. Crew’s whimsical Adele romper ($98) features delicate blue, yellow, and green flowers.

Although this perennial trend sprouts up year after year, it’s not an easy one to wear. Florals are often accompanied by fussy frills and can easily end up looking matronly; it’s hard to find a print and cut that’s neither saccharine nor stuffy. The key to wearing florals is to pay attention to the cut and color palette. To avoid looking like upholstery fabric or like I’m playing dress-up in a flower girl gown, I choose pieces with body-conscious details and restrained colors. My newest purchase is a knee-length dress from the Gap ($59,, with a delicate twisted collar, figure-flattering tie-waist, and ruched sides. The pink, yellow, and purple blooms are small and printed on a dark gray background, which prevents the pattern from overwhelming the dress. I’m planning to wear this piece now with rich tones like an eggplant-colored cardigan, and then, as the weather gets warmer, swap the dark colors for summery splashes of pink and yellow.

If you’re not interested in an allover print, another way to capitalize on the trend is by wearing solid-color items with floral appliqués. Anthropologie’s Curling Posies wrap ($88, is a quiet shade of cream, but the neckline is embellished with fabric coiled into the shape of flowers. This item is perfect for pairing with a dress or full skirt. Similarly bedecked is Forever 21’s Lace Front Cardigan ($28), which comes in pretty peach, taupe, and yellow, and features eyelet embroidery and a rosette brooch.

Florals are springing up on home décor items, too. Liberty of London, designers famous for their printed dresses and cardigans, teamed up with Target to created a line of affordable decorative items and kitchenware for the store. Don’t expect any dainty daisies here, though. The set of Dunclare tumblers (8 for $23.99) has a cool sketch-like quality that is a welcome change from their typical flirty, girly floral patterns. The Sixty teapot ($12.99) is reminiscent of psychedelic 60s patterns and would brighten up any kitchen. Various picture frames and throw pillows (starting at $9.99) are other subtle ways to incorporate this trend into your décor.

With clothes and trinkets cropping up in every price range, it’s easy to break out of the winter doldrums and grow your own garden of floral-inspired ensembles and accessories—rain or shine.