I used to think that flowers were only fit for curtains. Flowery frocks? Much too fussy and old fashioned! But how times (and my mind) have changed! Flower prints, bring them on I now say! Contemporary prints have now become so vibrant and ‘fashionable’ that even I have succumbed and love the brightness and freshness that they bring to our everyday dressing.
And just so you don’t think I am totally fickle where fashion is concerned or will go with anything if it becomes ‘trendy’… here’s my take (excuse?) for my change of mind. The difference now, I think, is that flower fabrics are so much subtler and varied than they ever were before. You can get ditsy prints (tiny flowers) or bold patterns, abstract flowers, or true to life flowers. And many of the colour combinations are beautiful, even with a touch of the psychedelic sixties (see Essential Antwerp) if you want to stand out from the crowd.
A quick note for the oldies (like me) among us. Do you remember the original ‘flower power’ movement? Think beads, fringes and colourful kaftans. When protesters against the Vietnam war in California threw flowers as they walked the streets. Flowers became symbols of peace and started to become a big part of the fashion scene. You may recall Mary Quant’s giant poppy images on knitwear, pretty patterned hippy dresses, flowery hair bands, and bright colours everywhere. If you Google Woodstock (that first ever pop festival) you will see loads of images of what I mean.
I have a modern version of the Mary Quant poppy design – knitted into an alpaca sweater – just perfect for the changing weather. And I remember a long, dark red trench coat I bought in the sixties. You could find something almost identical today, I’m sure. And think of the game-changing sixties mini. This has been reinvented time and time again since then. And minis are around right now for those of us who are long legged – and brave enough!
And what goes around comes around. We young-oldies know this well. And it’s particularly true with our clothes. Designers are always looking to the past to find inspiration. Time and time again we see styles that we remember from ages ago.
It’s just the same with flower fabrics. They have been reinvented in the same vibrant form as in the sixties. In between then and now flower prints became dark and dowdy, or too frilly and boring. Or at least, that is how I remember it. You may disagree and say that there were lovely flower prints around in the eighties and nighties. But I never seemed to find them.
But now, there is no doubt that flowers have been brought back to tempt the young and old(er) alike. There is a huge choice of prints available from most contemporary brands. You can be just as bold or discrete as you want. There are extravagant flower patterns or subtle small prints in colours that suit all complexions.
One of my favourite brands for ‘flower’ inspiration is the Swedish company, Gudrun Sjoden. They produce a wide-ranging selection of patterned (and plain) fabrics for their outfits, some with a delicate edging of flowers, some with bold designs from top to bottom, all in vibrant and unusual colour combinations. It’s easy to pick up one piece to liven up your wardrobe, or several pieces to make a co-ordinated outfit. Or just a flowery scarf will do wonders to add a cheery glow to whatever you’re wearing.
But there are plenty of other choices online and in store. In fact, most brands, whether designer or high street will give you something to choose from if you want to dip into the floral trend.
- M&S – Jersey Floral Funnel Neck Long Sleeve Top £25
- Boden – Crew Neck Jersey Midi Dress £80
- Hush – Kensington Long Sleeved Dress £85
- Boden – Relaxed straight jeans £96
- Thought: Mehri Gots organic cotton floral quilted jacket £54
- Boden: Printed modal scarf £24.75
- River Island: Jacquard floral bomber jacket £79
- One Hundred Stars: Flower Vase Stone Gown £85
- Embassy London: Iris leather boots £145
- Embassy London: Hatter Italian leather boots £159
- Pavers: Leather ankle boots £54.99
- Jones The Bootmaker: Floral lace up boots £69.99
- Boden: Blouson sleeve blouse £120
- The Bias Cut: Fabienne Chapot Rizo Floral Embroidered Cream Jumper £159.99
- Cloudberry: Rachel drape blouse from One Hundred Stars £80
So why not check out flower prints – they could just be just what you need to bring a refreshing addition to your wardrobe this autumn.
This article was written by Maggie Cox – former journalist, fashion retailer and author of It’s Never Too Late To Look Great! Turned 80, she has a quirky take on what young-at-heart-oldies can, and should, wear. She encourages mature women to have fun with how we dress – to push our boundaries to a more adventurous style.
You can read Maggie’s other articles about style for the older woman here