Ditch your ditsy prints… and embrace eye-catching ikat

Ditch your ditsy prints… and embrace eye-catching ikat

  • The High Street has an excellent summer alternative to the floral dress
  • READ MORE: I’m a fashion expert and these are the 3 prints that will make you look outdated in 2023 

As IF it wasn’t tricky enough dealing with the capricious weather — one moment torrential rain; the next a Mediterranean heatwave — there’s an additional dimension to our wardrobe dilemmas this year.

The death of the floral dress. According to John Lewis, the flower-sprigged midi dress — for years a staple at every wedding, picnic or garden party — has had its day.

Many of us still love florals, of course, as our recent piece on M&S showed. But the fact remains that, just like skirt lengths and denim styles, prints can date, too. 

So what should you go for if you don’t want to fall foul of the fashion police? Happily, the High Street has an excellent summer alternative — the ikat print.

Jacket, £162, and trousers, £126, mariadelaorden.com; shoes, £145, Iris & Ink at theoutnet.com

Top, £75, monsoon. co.uk; jeans, £32.99, zara.com; shoes, £35, schuh. co.uk; hat, £45, aspiga.com

Dress, £89 fatface.com; shoes, £95, dune london.com; bag £79, whistles. com; all necklaces, £160, carousel jewels.com

The print’s exact origins are unknown, but are likely to be Indonesian — ‘ikat’ in Indonesian means ‘bind’, and the print’s distinctive look is derived from binding yarns with a tight wrapping before dyeing them. 

As with tie-dye and batik, the bound parts resist the dye and a pattern forms.

That’s the science bit: but what should you be looking to buy? The beauty of ikat prints is that they look instantly summery, like sunshine in clothing form. 

The print lends itself particularly well to sundresses, kaftans, smocks and swimwear.

Unlike florals, ikat prints have a blurry quality that can make them feel less stark — East’s shirt dress (far right) is a good example. 

For a more striking look, opt for a two-tone ikat print, such as the one on the wide-leg trousers from Opportunique, a London-based brand.

Dress, £280, anorliving.com; shoes, £299, lkbennett.com

Shirt, £100, withnothingunderneath.com; trousers, £200, opportunique.com; shoes, £299, lkbennett.com; bag, £55, aspiga.com

Dress, £165, aspiga.com; shoes, £110, and bag, £75, boden.co.uk

Dress, £76.45, east.co.uk; shoes, £95, dunelondon.com

One of the best things about ikat is its versatility. You can wear it in the brightest colours, or the subtlest ones, and each will give a totally different effect. 

But make sure you team it with neutrals. Monsoon’s smock top, for example, looks great with white trousers (far left).

In terms of accessories, let ikat be the star. Try brown, white or metallic sandals that will tone with, rather than compete with, your print. Enhance the fabric’s earthy credentials with a basket bag.

There’s an edginess to ikat that ditsy floral prints don’t have — but trust me: soon, you won’t be missing your trusty floral midi at all.

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