Trend Alert: This Is How You Wear Tropical Prints
This palm-leaf mini is a natural fit for petite or straight frames, but anybody can sample a taste of the tropics in the form of a toucan clutch or raffia bangles.
To buy: Cameo polyester-blend dress, $170, piperlime.com for info (available in late May). Serpui Marie straw clutch, $195, shopabientot.com for info. R.J. Graziano raffia bracelets, $45 to $55 each, 212-685-1248. Kate Spade enamel necklace, $248, 866-999-5283. DV by Dolce Vita faux-leather sandals, $59, dolcevita.com.
If You Have a Straight Figure
This body type can get away with all sorts of bold patterns, but keep one rule in mind: Avoid anything shapeless or oversize. That can further diminish small hips, says Stafford.
How to wear it: Embrace the peplum to transform a boyish frame into va-va-voom curves. Emblazoned with a sinuous print, the peplum here is twice as effective. Everywhere else, go sleek.
To buy: Cameo polyester-blend top, $178, anthropologie.com. Boden cotton-blend pants, $88, bodenusa.com. Jené Despain earrings of coral, Swarovski crystals, and gold plate, $198, jenedespain.com. Kayu straw clutch, $185, kayudesign.com. Nina Originals suede heels, $148, ninashoes.com.
Tropical Romper for Straight Figures
This romper is drapey and relaxed, but the cinched waist carves out an hourglass silhouette. Looks exotic with metallic sandals.
To buy: Shades of Grey by Micah Cohen polyester romper, $161, Capulet, 415-796-2489.
Tropical Skirt for Straight Figures
Swishy pleats in a standout floral bring dimension to slight hips. Wear with a chambray button-down.
To buy: Darling Clothes viscose-blend skirt, $79, darlingclothes.com.
If You Have a Tummy
Island dressing is a breeze with a few fail-safe visual tricks: Use busy prints to keep the eye moving (not zeroing in on your middle), disguise the stomach with ruching, and downplay bulges with a colored or dark background.
How to wear it: Create the illusion of an hourglass shape with a style that uses fabric gathers near the stomach, says Jacqui Stafford, the author of The Wow Factor ($25, barnesandnoble.com). The knot in the center of this dress cinches the waistline; neutral accessories with hints of green pull together the look.
To buy: BCBGMaxAzria polyester dress, $248, bcbg.com for info. Elizabeth Cole earrings of Swarovski crystals, brass, and gold plate, $168, elizabethcolejewelry.com. Deux Lux clutch of faux leather and cotton-blend fabric, $85, deuxlux.com. A.V. Max gold-plated bangles, $45 for five, avmaxaccessories.com. Stuart Weitzman raffia sandals, $275, zappos.com.
Tummy-Disguising Tropical-Print Skirt
Any hint of a pooch gets lost in the dark, while the flowery border makes the palette summery. Looks lean with a black top.
To buy: Rhyme Los Angeles polyester skirt, $59, piperlime.com for info (available late May).
Tummy-Disguising Tropical-Print Top
A loose, boxy top excels at hiding love handles. Pair it with high-waisted slim pants.
To buy: Sam & Lavi rayon top, $138, 831-458-3080.
If You Have Full Hips and Thighs
“Play up the upper body with a fun print,” says Dawn Del Russo, the founder of Bella Dawn, a shopping service in New York City. For patterns below the waist, skip ones that are vibrant or large in scale, which exaggerate hips.
How to wear it: A collared shirt brings structure to the top half and evens out hips. It’s okay to opt for a bright color on the lower body, as long as the cut is forgiving, as with this hides-all-sins flowy skirt. Pale accessories match without battling for attention.
To buy: The Limited stretch-polyester blouse, $50, thelimited.com. Miss Selfridge skirt. Gemma Simone metal earrings, $28, gemmasimone.com. ZAC Zac Posen leather bag, $295, couture.zappos.com. Zara leather sandals, $36, zara.com.
Topical Belt and Top for Full Hips and Thighs
If You Have a Large Bust
It’s best to stick to prints on the bottom half. But if you decide to go for it above the waist, make sure the design is elongating and doesn’t accentuate your size, says Del Russo: “A simple flower can easily turn into a bull’s-eye.”
How to wear it: Offset punchy pants with a tucked-in basic to avoid looking boxy. No need to match accessories perfectly. Even a pop of red swings with this jungle motif.
To buy: Finders Keepers pants. Calvin Klein polyester-blend blouse, $59, Macy’s, 800-289-6229. Ann Taylor necklace of Lucite, glass, and metal, $80, anntaylor.com. Mar y Sol raffia clutch, $85, shopmarysol.com. Coach leather sandals, $248, coach.com.
Tropical Top for Large Busts
The vertical lines of the feathers help minimize the chest, and the cut up top is wide enough to conceal bra straps. Make it work-worthy with a pencil skirt.
To buy: Longchamp cotton blouse, $255, 212-223-1500.
Tropical Shorts for Large Busts
“Divert focus from the chest by emphasizing other assets, like great legs,” says Stafford. Make them Palm Beach chic with a white tee.
To buy: JCP cotton shorts, $26, jcpenney.com.