Prints charming

AFTER seasons and seasons of block colours on the catwalk, it was inevitable that someday, our prints would come. Autumn-Winter 2010 sees the return of dramatic patterns, prints and paisleys. While the print phenomenon certainly brought a lot more colour to the runways, it will pose a serious styling challenge to any fashionista who has developed a dependence on colour blocks for her wardrobe staples. AW2010 demands a more creative approach to styling. Matching two or three colours no longer cuts it. Clashing colour blocks are more fashion forward, and even the most pattern-phobic among us will need to flex their fashion muscles and incorporate a little print into their look. This trend is everywhere from knitwear â€â€ where snow-flake patterns are the order of the day â€â€ to separates, where tartans, stripes, florals, and the all-important animal print, reign supreme. The good news is that the shops are full of fabulous prints that will bring your look bang up-to-date. However, creating a capsule wardrobe can be tricky with such a variety of patterns to choose from. It's vital to ensure your key items work with each other, rather than against each other. The best advice here is to select staples like trousers and skirts in single colours and confine prints to tops, scarves, tights and other accessories. Get the balance right and you're on the way to a look that oozes modern chic. Get it wrong and the result could give you a serious fashion headache. Top tips for a look that's fit to print: Animal aspects: Fur and feathers flew on the international catwalks this season. And no, we're not referring to the antics of Naomi Campbell. The natural world is a huge source of inspiration for designers and the high street alike with prints from leopard to zebra. Feathers feature in everything from skirts to handbags, and furs â€â€ both real and faux â€â€ abound. If you want an investment buy that's still on trend, keep animal elements to trims and buttons, which can be easily changed over the coming seasons. Coats and jackets with fur or feather collars offer an ideal opportunity to buy into the trend without making a long-term commitment. Paisley park: From its origins in 16th century Persia to the present day, the appeal of paisley is never-ending. Symbolic of luxury that veers into decadence, it's one of those patterns that you'll either love or hate. But even if you adore this exotic print, Herald eXtra advises that you buy wisely. While it's a print perennial, paisley's fashion appeal is cyclical. Once it falls out of favour, it will quickly date your look. Vintage vibe: Print is another of those trends that looks to the past for inspiration, with kitsch florals and hillbilly checks continuing to rule the rails. Shows like Mad Men provide great inspiration for print-lovers, with Joan, Betty and Peggy working zany â€Ëœ60s patterns into the epitome of vintage chic. Funds-conscious fashionista will find second-hand and vintage shops an ideal hunting grounds for original prints. Cool contrasts: When it comes to prints, you can certainly have too much of a good thing. A little pattern is chic, a lot can look cheap and tacky no matter how much the garment set you back. If you love leopard, balance the look with block colours in camel and chocolate browns. Similarly, a flash of zebra print and feathers are great with black leather for high-octane eveningwear.