Privilege Blog

Patterns, Prints, And General Pickiness

What kind of prints do High WASPs wear? Prints, mind you. We aren’t talking seersucker, madras, gingham, or plaids, which should be woven into the fabric.

Funny you should ask. I thought about this for a long time. For the most part, prints make us nervous. By definition, prints have something going on. Which might lead inexorably to attracting attention. Which might cause terrible shame at having Put Oneself Forward. But let’s assume that psychoanalytic tradition has inspired the modern High WASP to break out. Get a little bit wild.

Extensive analysis reveals that we dress in shirts that look like men’s ties. However, the answer to why this should be so is less apparent. I can only offer the facts.

Grandes Dames will wear paisley.

Or a foulard. In silk satin, or cotton voile. Bien sur. Prints make us want to speak French. I don’t know why.

A Sturdy Gal loves your pin dot.

While the Artsy Cousin infinitely prefers prints from other countries. Africa, for example. But no one wears batik anymore. The 70’s killed it.

And everyone will don the occasional cheerful floral, within limits. Liberty of London is a favorite. (They make little bitty suitcases, oh my god). Liberty patterns are now available, of course, on a few Target items. For clothing, judicious mix of proportion and color is required. This below might be pushing the boundaries but I just couldn’t resist. It’s spring, after all.

Finally, when on vacation and feeling quite giddy with sun and extra alcohol, we might wear Lilly Pulitzer. I’d love a pair of these pants, to wear with a too-tight white tank, some large sunglasses, and a hangover. Did you know that her “Pulitzer” comes from the same family that endowed the eponymous literary prize?

Or possibly, for men, a Hawaiian-patterned bathing suit.

By the way, it turns out that fabric sites are a great way to amuse oneself. All those colors. All those shapes. Highly recommended for procrastination, if you’re in the market.

Paisley, Layout Sparks
Foulard, McTextiles
Pindot, Warehouse Fabrics
Floral, Purl Soho
African, Unique Spool
Lilly Pulitzer, as herself
Hawaiian, Aloha Outlet

*With thanks to DocP for the suggestion to post on this topic.
** With thanks to Lauren, I had put up an ikat print for the Artsy Cousin, and it’s not a print, it’s woven. Here’s the link anyway. Ikat is gorgeous. Ikat, Marla Mallet

21 Responses

  1. Prints always feel like a minefield to me. My background is WASP of the northern Maine sort on one side and eastern european on the other. I have lived and worked with high WASPs, but high WASP style is not my native language. I feel that most of the time "I know it when I see it" in terms of prints, but given that I shop what is available in the plus size world, compromise (or a retreat to solids) is unfortunately sometimes necessary. Examples, as above, and a little deconstruction, as in the link yesterday, are helpful.

  2. And this is why I love this blog. Awesome resources, ideas and references! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Lauren, you are right. I had put in ikat for the the Artsy Cousin and then realized I was breaking my own rules, since ikat is woven…so I switched it out for African prints. Ha. I will correct. Thank you.

  4. I love prints, and since I have neither High Wasp credentials nor aspirations, that's okay. Above, I especially love the paisley and the circles, the Hawaiian print not so much. I just bought a Catherine Malandrino silk jersey dress in a multi-coloured print called Mozambique — I love it, but I suspect some High Wasps might politely avert eyes . . .

  5. Lilly is not on my radar…being very westcoast far from Lilly Central, the weather (think rainforest!) issues that are not conducive to donning her pink and lime tropical prints. They are perfect for holiday makers going to warm and sunny climates.
    Personally I think prints and patterns always look better on others.

    I did wear a shantung silk skirt to my son's wedding that was patches of silk scallops in black, cream, pewter and grey…it used to be my profile pic, maybe you remember it?

  6. I think you have this one nailed. Might you agree that some geometric prints are high WASP… similar to your African print, maybe a chain link? What about animal prints… too much?

  7. Lindy, yes to geometric, how MANY chain link wrap dresses have I seen, and for animal prints, I think they are the de rigeur allowed rebellion. If that makes sense. Hostess, I shy away from prints usually myself, hence some head scratching when I wrote this. I don't remember your skirt – perhaps a show and tell? And Mater, yes, well, but we are TELLING on the High WASPs because if they would avert their eyes they need to be strictly spoken to.

  8. Arty cousins wear Marimekko. And of course, the Hermes scarf-pattern blouse, but would be "wearing a print"?
    My mother was a big foulard-print wearer, to this day when I see that small repeating print I think of her.

  9. Fascinating as ever Lisa. Can I ask, does Anna Wintour dress high wasp? I notice she usually wears print shift dresses.

  10. Interesting. I noticed there was quite a stir that 2 actresses wore print gowns to the Oscars this year. Some say yay, but most seemed to feel nay. Not sure myself.

  11. What a lovely and informative post. I think I always love the flower designs…

  12. Oh yes Ikat is fabulous as is garden chain. I like all of it except Lily P. I have to draw the line somewhere!


  13. Isn't looking at fabrics so fun?? Even better yet, being at the store and touching them all..! But perhaps lusting after fabric in such a way is not something High WASP would do.

    Hope you're well, dear.


    ps: I like that you added a picture of you on to the profile. Very nice.

  14. The minute I saw the subject of this post, I said to myself, "Polka dots!"

    Boy, you DO know your Sturdy Gals, don't you?

  15. Yes to Marimekko. Yes to Etro – my brother lives in it. Yes to Sturdy Gals:). Yes to touching fabric. Yes to not sure about prints to the Oscars. Yes to Lilly and hangovers, again. And Turquoise, so nice to see you hear. FF, my definition of High WASP is long, complex, and tongue in cheek. I need to make a page and put it up, working on that.

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