There may still be a chill in the air, but if you believe what the groundhog says, spring has sprung! So it's time to coax your favorite lightweight spring clothes out from their back-of-wardrobe winter hibernation, and give them an early start to the season.
But if you thought those pretty pieces weren't wearable until May — or at least your next beach vacay — think again. Using items from Aussie brand Camilla's hot new "El Duende" collection, now available in the U.S., we'll show you how to style fun prints and lightweight looks so that you can channel a chic and unique New York state of mind, right this instant. If anyone knows how to style prints for life off the beach, it's Camilla's owner, founder and designer, Camilla Franks, who spends much of her life on planes traveling for inspiration for her designs, as well as between her home base in Sydney and second home in India. She can go from winter in London to summer in Mexico with the same suitcase — therefore layering is key.
Read on for our simple tips for styling prints like a fashion-savvy New Yorker — keeping in mind, of course, that rules were meant to be broken. (We New Yorkers love to break the rules!)
Rule #1: Toughen up. No true New Yorker would dare go anywhere without her trusty leather biker jacket — especially when it serves to toughen up an otherwise ultrafeminine look. So try mixing prints with leather and suede pieces. Instead of pairing a pretty, printed dress with a cardigan or blazer, try adding a a motorcycle-style jacket to instantly ramp up your outfit's "cool girl" factor. Or, if you're more into doing the boho thing, accessorize with a suede bucket bag or oversized fedora to give off some major Sienna Miller/Kate Moss vibes like we did with Camilla's Lift the Veil A-line Frill Dress piece above .
Rule #2: Tone it down (a little). Want your spring prints to be the star of the show? Let them take center stage by keeping the other aspects of your outfit relatively simple. If the weather allows, go bare-legged, keeping your shoes and accessories low-key and streamlined. Try not to get too fussy with your hair or makeup, either: It's time to let your pretty prints shine! Of course, that's not to say you can't get creative. Get that must-have '90s style by adding a simple fitted tee under a printed slip dress, or cover up with an oversized sweater or jacket in a solid color that won't compete with your print.
Rule #3: Get textural. As any New Yorker will tell you, the weather here can be frustratingly unpredictable. The solution? Layering. Well-done layers only look like a fine art, but they're easy to achieve — just so long as you've got the right pieces to work with. Since you want your gorgeous print to do the talking, pair it with something that's of a heavier material — think, a fuzzy sweater over a light, flowy dress, or a structured velvet blazer with a sexy mini. And the hands-down easiest way to keep those layers looking sophisticated and effortless? Stick with neutral colors like creme, gray and oatmeal. That way, there's no limit to how many pieces you can wear at once, and you'll never have to worry about matching or "overdoing" your look.
Rule #4: Play with contrasting colors and prints. Unless every item in your wardrobe was purchased from the very same brand (and chances are very slim that that's the case), you'll probably have trouble finding an exact color or pattern to match your printed pieces. Heck, even black comes in a million different shades. So instead of trying to match, have some fun accessorizing with contrasting hues and prints. Does your print have lots of blues in it? Try pairing it with something yellow, like a shoe or handbag. Mostly red or orange? Go for gold, turquoise, or even a pastel lilac shade. And if you still really and truly can't stand the idea of not matching... choose one of the lesser colors in your print and go from there. The less overwhelming the color is, the easier it'll be to fake a match.
Check out the outfits below for our take on styling festive spring prints with a New York twist. Don’t forget to check out the Camilla Style Guide to learn how to style and reinterpret Camilla's most versatile pieces, such as the Round Neck Kaftan and Drawstring Dress, so you can go from dancing barefoot in the sand in a flowing kaftan, and then transform it into a sparkling minidress for when you are sipping champagne at the bar overlooking the ocean.