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Pearl studs, Ivanka Trump ankle strap nude pumps, Judith Leiber gemstone belt (all own) hat and leave print dress c/o Coolibar, wooden mirrored sunglasses c/o Winkwood, mini bag c/o Belorita

Summer dresses often come in busy prints. Read how to accessorize a busy print dress to avoid being scanned by whom ever you meet.

  1. What Is Accessorizing?
  2. Why Is Accessorizing Busy Print Dresses Difficult?
  3. Always Consider the Situation You Dress for
  4. What Are Busy Prints?
  5. How to Accessorize a Busy Print Dress?
  6. Drama Queen, Eclectic or Artsy Style
  7. Tricks to Remember (Your Shortcut)
  8. Top of the World Style Linkup Party No. 261

Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post.

What Is Accessorizing?

Accessorizing is about finding pieces that compliment and complete your look. This post provides some guidelines to navigate the tricky territory. It’s not a math equation or a cooking recipe, but helps to reduce the time of trial and error to find what looks the best. Or it’s a shortcut of Isaac Mizrahi advice on having style Try everything with everything and look what looks the best wrong. - Isaac Mizrahi #quote #style Click To Tweet

Why Is Accessorizing Busy Print Dresses Difficult?

To demonstrate the problem, let’s start with a print dress with only two colors like black and white. Accessorizing sounds easy, on first thought, right? However, the dress bears the challenge of a busy print. The print would also be busy when it were polka dots, small thin stripes (of different width makes it even worse), stars or florals. Thus, adding accessories becomes tricky and you can quickly look like trying too hard or not trying at all.

While on a solid black dress you can add a lot without going overboard, on a busy print, even when it is just black and white, accessories must be used sparsely. The goal is to adds style to your look, but not to overwhelm it overwhelm it. Consequently, adding black and white spectator pumps to this leaf print or to a polka dot print dress, for instance, is not an option. The shoes would compete with the print of the dress.

50 years old woman in leaf print dress, sunglasses, hat with belt and mini bag
Own Judith Leiber gemstone belt, hat and leave print dress c/o Coolibar, wooden mirrored sunglasses c/o Winkwood, mini bag c/o Bellorita

Always Consider the Situation You Dress for

To make it work accept the print as the statement. Think about what you have to add for the life situation and weather you dress for. Do you need a hat, tights, bag? Will you need outerwear and umbrella? What type of shoes will work with what your plans are and the outfit? It these needed pieces you own won’t work with each other and the dress, and can’t take the supporting role, go for a solid one. It’s not worth your time to try to get it work.

What Are Busy Prints?

As said before, there is not one-fits-all recipe or equation. The size of the print, the colors and even your size and shape may play a role. Here a list of prints that may be considered busy:

  • Paisley
  • Polka dots
  • Floral prints
  • Small geometric prints like diamonds
  • Any print that seems not to repeat

The print and cut of the dress as well as your personal style also play a role which accessories work. This applies also for looking cool in crazy prints.

How to Accessorize a Busy Print Dress?

When pulling the look together, always ask yourself if it is you. If not, skip it! When you don’t like what you see in the mirror, the look doesn’t work for you even though it may work for the next woman. Here are some ideas on how to accessorize busy print dresses that may work for your personal style:

  • Sure, you can always add a pop of color to a black and white dress like red or green or even yellow pumps and a matching clutch. Pearl studs in black or white or metal color look nice with this leaf print as well as with a floral dress. This would be a very classic look.
  • Avoid the pop of color with a black and white polka dot dress. Too 50s! Instead go for simple studs and black pumps or ballerina flats. This would be a very Romantic Style.
  • A gingham shirt dress also would with this footwear leading also to a romantic outfit. Adding a headband, especially with flowers may be too much for a woman in midlife whose primary personal style isn’t romantic.
  • Another easy way to accessorize busy prints is to match the add-sons to one of the colors of your dress. It hasn’t to be a perfect match. In the case of a floral dress with pink roses on blue, for instance, red or coral shoes or beads as well as bag look nice.
  • A subtle or neutral color accessory works well with a busy print dress.
  • A wide brim slouchy hat, gladiator leather sandals and jewelry all in neutral colors works well with a Bohemian Style print dress.
  • When you are Iris Apfel pile on. More is more, and less is a bore. - Iris Apfel #quote #fashionicon Click To Tweet
  • When your primary or secondary style is Dramatic, Artsy or eclectic try to treat accessories like mixed prints.

Drama Queen, Eclectic or Artsy Style

When your primary or secondary style is Dramatic, eclectic or artsy, you may try to add further bold pieces to a busy print. Here to art is to keep the look grounded and have the confidence to pull the look off.

This means the result must be you wearing the look vs. the pieces using you as a hangar. In other words, you must have an attitude.

In the example outfit of this post, I grounded the look with black (the hat, clutch), added nude to ground the look on me (pumps, clutch). I added the gemstone belt for drama. The gold is repeated in the chain of the clutch. The round pearls on the clutch and studs.

stylist in busy print vacation dress flesh color heels and black hat

style blogger in black white print dress accessorized with wide brim hat, crossbody bag, flesh color ankle strap heels
Alaskan woman in mini dress accessorized with hat, heels


over 50 years old Alaskan in leaf print shift, braided ponytail, brim sun hat, high heels
Outfit details: Pearl studs, Ivanka Trump ankle strap nude pumps, Judith Leiber gemstone belt (all own) hat and leave print dress c/o Coolibar, wooden mirrored sunglasses c/o Winkwood, mini shoulder bag c/o Bellorita


When you like the outfit, why not pinning it to your Pinterest board?

Interested in “How to Dress for Success in Midlife”? Buy the book now to never worry about what to wear when.

Tricks to remember (Your shortcut)

Look at the cleavage to decide which type of jewelry this dress can take.


Now that you identified the type of jewelry, search for a piece that matches the vibe and colors of the print as dicussed above.

What are you wearing these days? Are you more Coco Chanel or Iris Apfel? Just curious.

Coco Chanel said take one thing off. I always said put another one on. - Iris Apfel #quote #style Click To Tweet

Top of the World Style linkup No. 261

Top of the World Style linkup party logo

Welcome to the 261st Top of the World Style linkup party.

Penny Kocher in wide black skirt as style winner
Penny Kocher of Frugal Shopper became Top of the World Style Winner. Photo from her post.


Salazar in grey top blue oversize blazer, loafers and jeans
Salazar of 14 Shades of Grey became Top of the World OOTD Readers’ Fav. Photo from her post.


Alison of Midlife and Beyond in leather trousers and floral shirt
Alison of Midlife and Beyond became Top of the World OOTD Readers’ Fav. Photo from her post.


Congrats Ladies! Grab your award buttons.


Gateway to the party


See these awesome looks at the Top of the World Style #linkup party. #timelessstyle Click To Tweet

Want to throw your own party? Or do you want to get a free feature at the party? Then send me an email.

Photos of me: G. Kramm

© 2020-2021 Nicole Mölders | All rights reserved

This Post Has 13 Comments

  1. aquamarinastyle

    You always accessories beautifully, Nicole, so your tips must be spot on! You look adorable in that hat!

    xx Darlene

  2. Suzy Turner

    You look absolutely gorgeous! I’m totally loving the floppy hat on you!
    Suzy xx

  3. donnadoesdresses

    You look totally hot and fun in this outfit, Nicole – love the hat and belt!! I wear printed shoes with printed dresses but it’s not for everyone – as long as we’re enjoying ourselves I guess that’s the main thing!
    Donna 🧚🏻‍♀️🙏🐝

  4. I just love this black and white palm print, that hat gives it an elegant look and your legs look great in those heels!

    curly crafty mom

  5. Jodie

    I love this Nicole!! It’s a perfect way to make it so fun.

  6. Jacket Society

    I love this look on you Nicole, looking fab!

  7. Jess

    Gorgeous outfit! I love palm prints and the hat is elegant!

  8. Rena

    Wow, you created a great look!
    xx from Bavaria/Germany, Rena
    Dressed with Soul

  9. Lucy Bertoldi

    I love your tips on accessorizing- so true that it’s not always evident when it comes to black and white prints. You look amazing!! Please link u with me this Friday:) xx

  10. OMG, Getting into HATS, lately…not hate, lol. Although with the current political climate, that might read for the times as well, lol

  11. I full-on LOVE that dress, and that hat is EVERYTHING. GREAT look. I’ve been getting into hate lately too. I never really thought I was a hat person until I started spending a lot of time in Florida. go figure.

  12. mireilleftm

    I love your choice of accessorize: that has is quite amazing and your shoes are so pretty. Great tips.

  13. shelbeeontheedge1

    What a fun dress! Accessorizing bold prints can sometimes be challenging. Great tips!


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