How to Wear Printed Pants and Still Look Chic

It’s time for a post I never thought I’d write: how to wear printed pants. A decade ago, I wouldn’t have pictured myself wearing printed pants, especially not at work! I felt like they weren’t flattering for my frame and gave off a very youthful, child-like appearance that I wanted to avoid. Fast forward to a new decade, and here I am, fully embracing the art of the printed pant. 

Here’s the thing. It’s not that printed pants should leave your wardrobe after your teen years, it’s that you need to learn how to style them for your refined taste. If you are anything like the old version of myself, this post will help you break out of that limiting mindset and figure how to wear printed pants. Here a few beginner-friendly tips for dipping your toe into the world of printed pants.

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What I’m Wearing: Nordstrom sweater (similar) | Who What Wear pants (similar) | Jeffrey Campbell boots | Topshop duster (similar)


Tip 1: Choose a timeless print with no more than 2-3 key colors.

Whenever you are introducing a new concept to your personal style, my number one tip is to start small. In this case, starting small means keeping the print down to a moderate amount of color. Remember, you have to learn to crawl before you can walk. Rather than dive headfirst into the printed pants world with a busy print like paisley, stick with a timeless print that has no more than three colors. Plaid or gingham prints are easy because they typically mix the best with neutral tops and can easily transition into workwear. 

Tip 2: Select a solid top within the same color family.

In today’s post, I went for a vibrant pop of color instead of applying this tip because I feel pretty comfortable with wearing printed pants. As a beginner, your best bet is to build up to this outfit option. One of the challenges with incorporating printed pants into your style is knowing what kind of top looks best. 

The easiest way to complete the look is to pick a solid top that is the same color as one of the three shades within your pants. For example, the pants in the outfit I’m wearing could pair nicely with a black or white top. As you get adjusted to the trend, you can then start to introduce more color double-up on your prints

How to Wear Gingham Print

Tip 3: Wear a pant style and print that elongates your frame.

I’ve provided a few tips to elongate your frame when wearing maxi skirts in the past, but height is always something I consider when making a purchase. Because I’m 5’2″ and primarily choose flat or mid-heel shoes, I try to find trousers that elongate my body. 

Vertical stripes, clean lines, and appropriately cropped pants can help offset any height challenges you face. If you’re searching for wide-leg pants, try a style that comes up to your natural waist and includes straight lines. You have a bit more freedom with the print choice if you prefer a slim fit pant, but you do still want to be mindful of the hem. For a cigarette-style or tapered pant, aim for the slacks to hit just above your ankle.

a guide to wearing printed pants

Tip 4: Keep the additional accessories minimal.

The “more is more” mentality of fashion can quickly enter busy territory if you aren’t careful. In the case of wearing printed pants, you want to ease into accessorizing so as not to detract from the focal point of your outfit. I’d recommend ditching the carryall bag for a small crossbody and wearing only your signature jewelry.  

Tip 5: Wear printed pants with a heel.  

Last but not least, break out the heels! Specifically, break out the heels with a single sole instead of the platform style. A platform can look a bit clunky with prints, but a minimal heel will elongate your frame without taking away from your outfit. I particularly love this option with slim, cropped pants.

jeffrey cambell white boots outfit ideas


5 Ways to Style Printed Pants

TL;DR? If you don’t have time to read the full post, pin it for later to catch up on all the details! Here’s a quick recap of how to style printed pants:

  • Choose a timeless print with no more than 2-3 key colors.
  • Select a solid top within the same color family.
  • Wear a cut and print that elongates your frame.
  • Keep the accessories minimal.
  • Style it with a heel.  

tips to style printed pants as an adult

What tip would you add? Are you a fan of printed pants, or do you prefer to keep it simple with solids?

As always, you know I have a board for every mood! Be sure to follow on Pinterest and check out my HOW TO WEAR | printed pants board to get some additional outfit inspiration!

Recreate the look featured in today’s post:

how to style gingham pants


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