How to wear… printed trousers

How to wear… printed trousers


When it comes to trousers, most of us like to keep things simple. That tends to mean a few good pairs of jeans, classic suit trousers, chic wide legs, tailored track pants – all in easy-to-wear, sensible block colours. If there’s a print, it’s likely a sober check or subtle stripe. In the summer, however, we start to long for something a little more vibrant, a little brighter and breezier, maybe with a dash of colour thrown in.

This is where the printed trousers come in. Many of us will have a pair of loose, airy bottoms we break out when abroad, but once we get home, that palm print or floral or tie-dye is immediately way too loud, way too flashy, way too ‘yoohoo! I’m on holiday!’ for everyday wear. But as sustainability becomes an increasingly urgent issue, we’re eager to make our wardrobes work harder for us, and items reserved solely for a few wears on a two-week holiday are falling out of favour.

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Which makes it all the better that fashion has embraced a sense of wanderlust this season. Chanel even turned its catwalk into a sandy beach, complete with its own ocean and lifeguard on duty.

Printed trousers are central to the collections’ carefree, escapist mood. Natacha Ramsay-Levi’s designs for Chloe brought us to Ibiza and Morocco, offering hippie scarf print trousers with rope belts and toe rings, and the designer herself came out for her bow wearing a pair, teamed with a white T-shirt and tailored blazer. The effect was polished yet laid-back.

This air of sophisticated ease was discernible at Tory Burch too, where Mediterranean cruises provided the inspiration. Bold trousers printed with toucans and tropical motifs were styled with canvas sneakers and cosy cardigans for a relaxed touch.

The surfer girl acted as muse for Etro this season, where the house’s signature paisley pattern was edged with California cool. The models were sun-kissed and the colour palette was zingy, yet the collection had a real-world feel. The trousers were high-waisted with a straight cut, and a black-backed tropical pair worn with an intarsia knit jumper and blue slides looked perfect for a weekend brunch.

Burgundy floral trousers were paired with a quilted blazer in the same shade and contrasting butter yellow cord wrap belt in a boho take on power dressing.

Printed trousers have flourished off the catwalks too: Victoria Beckham favours large windowpane checks in zesty orange and white, while Katie Holmes prefers a more muted patterned silk style.

The most straightforward way to avoid looking too holiday is to keep the top half and shoes modern and streamlined. In Victoria’s case, a crisp shirt and neat crew neck lends the trousers a workwear-appropriate finish, while Katie’s trousers come off looking smart with a black blazer and pointed pumps. Equally, put them with a plain white tee and trainers and the result is contemporary casual – just steer clear of flip flops or pool slides.

If you’re going more casual, look to model Doutzen Kroes. Her floral trousers are given an urban twist with trainers, a grey jumper and denim trench: she’s pictured here at a Michael Kors fashion show, but the effortless styling means she could just as easily be on a Saturday shopping trip with friends.

To play it safe, keep things simple and opt for muted tones on top, whether it’s a sharp white blouse or a basic knit. Likewise, avoid fussy accessories and shoes: let the trousers be the star.

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