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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. Many people struggle with what accessories go with a print dress. This also is true for what shoes to wear with a print dress. Read on! This post answers these questions and how to accessorize a busy print dress to avoid being scanned by whom ever you meet.



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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

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?

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 like a landscape or newspaper print.

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


What Accessories Go with a Print Dress?

  • 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, white or metal 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 1950s! Instead go for a Romantic Style with simple studs, black pumps or ballerina flats.
  • 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 your style is maximalist like Iris Apfel pile on. Recall her motto “More is more, and less is a bore.”
  • When your primary or secondary style is Dramatic, Artsy or eclectic style try to treat accessories like mixed prints.


What Are the Best Accessories for a Print Dress?

Here are some easy-to-follow tricks to remember (Your Shortcut). Look at the cut 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 discussed above.



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.

Take Isaac Mizrahi advice on having style:


Try everything with everything and look what looks the best wrong.


When your primary/secondary style is Dramatic, eclectic or artsy, you may try to add further bold pieces. Herein the art is to keep the look grounded and to be confident to pull the look off, i.e.,


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


In the the black-and-white dress outfit, the black color grounds the look (hat, clutch). The nude color grounds the look on me (pumps, clutch). The gemstone belt adds drama. The gold repeats in the chain of the clutch. There are round pearls on the clutch and studs. These elements keep the look together.


style blogger in black white print dress accessorized with wide brim hat, crossbody bag, flesh color ankle strap heels
Pearl studs, Ivanka Trump ankle strap nude pumps, Judith Leiber gemstone belt, hat and leave print dress c/o Coolibar, Winkwood wooden mirrored sunglasses, mini shoulder bag c/o Bellorita.



Example: How to Accessorize a Floral Dress?

The outfit idea below features accessorizing of a busy color print. Pick one color or two of the print and repeat it in the accessories like the pink and orange.


style blogger over 40 in colorful outfit with stripes and floral print
eShakti floral print fit-and-flare dress, Paloma Picasso kiss belt, Ivanka Trump cap-toe pumps, striped Coach fabric tote, and Winkwood wooden sunglasses.


What Shoes to Wear with a Print Dress?

Pick a pair in the vibe of the garment. Either repeat a color of the print or the color used to ground the look.


Final Remarks: What Is Accessorizing?

Accessorizing is about finding pieces that compliment and complete your look. This post provided some guidelines to navigate the tricky territory. It’s not a math equation or a cooking recipe, but reduces the time of trial and error to find what looks the best. It’s all personal.


Coco Chanel said take one thing off. I always said put another one on. – Iris Apfel.


Are you more Coco Chanel or Iris Apfel? Just curious.


Photos: G. Kramm

© 2020-2023 Nicole Mölders | All rights reserved

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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. I love this look on you Nicole, looking fab!

  7. Jess

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

  8. 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!