Novelty Print in the Real World

I LOVE novelty print. Love. Love. Love. Love. Love.

Like a dress with old fashioned grills on it? Don’t mind if I do. A dress with hot air balloons? Yes, please. Dress with pies and cakes? Uhm, obviously . Novelty print is my crux, man. I will wear novelty print everywhere from my office, to school, to events, to the grocery store, to family parties, to day to day errand running. The trick is figuring out exactly how to style novelty print. Here’s my few ideas on how to take these awesome pretties from your office to a wedding in only a few moves.


Photo: Forever21 Fox Print Dress with Modcloth Skirt.


1.) Dressing Up for the Office

We all love wearing quirky, comfortable, business-y and professional styles to work. I’ve worked everywhere from being a middle school and high school substitute teacher, to a Community Relations Director for a national non-profit, as a Marketing & Development associate for a local theatre, an event planner, etc. And I have totally had to make pieces work all year round from 8th grade English class – to opening night of Death of a Salesman – to a day-to-day office building. And you can absolutely make novelty print work in all of those places!

These are my three must haves for professional-izing novelty print:

A.) A Cardigan or a Blazer

This just tends to mellow out the crazy print. It covers up sleeveless, strapless, backless novelties. It just gives you a little more coverage for an office setting. Especially if your office is like mine and changes between an arctic tundra and the Sahara every other day. It’s great to go in layers! It can also be great for helping define a waist line, showcasing the bust, and helping you fake an hour glass! And the greatest part is…you can do this all year long! You can wear thicker, softer, long sleeve sweaters in the winter and you can rock short sleeve or three-quarter length sleeves in a light jersey or breezy spandex in the summer. Then the obvious. If you can rock a tailor fit jacket or a straight up blazer over the novelty – DO IT! It’ll be awesome. It’ll define your shape, let you express your personal style, take the outfit from the 1950’s straight to your modern office. And blazers come in plus sizes in like every color! I myself have a black, gray, burgundy, royal blue, and a green plaid blazer. No excuses!

B.) Minimal jewelry

Sometimes LESS IS MORE. If you are wearing a dress to the office covered in dinosaurs or bicycles or cats or pies or Disney or maps any other myriad of prints (those mentioned are just a few that I personally own and wear all over the place) – you don’t need a lot of jewelry! I wear gold and silver bangles every day and a promise ring from my darling Preston most days. Pretty much every other day with novelty print is bare wrists, fingers, and necks. Adding too much bling takes your look from “office standard” or “business casual” IN ADDITION to a super busy novelty print is just to much. You are already making a statement with your print. Don’t overdo it. If there’s way too much to look at  – you basically just become one of those houses at Christmas time that has nineteen inflatables on the lawn, and reindeer on the roof, and a nativity in between the inflatables, and lights on every inch of their house and it looks like someone threw up tinsel in random spots. It’s just too much to look at it. Settle down. No one ever needed THAT much Christmas spirit and no one needs to have to process 19 parts of your outfit.

C.) Some solids or neutrals

If you’re going big with the print – go casual with your other pieces. I like to rock solid tights, solid cardigans, solid shoes, and solid purses to go with novelty print. It really brings the outfit back to the “Business Casual” or “professional” style with those added neutrals. You can also really compliment an accent color in the pattern with a cardigan.

Pros: They are flexible and will go with several outfits, they draw less attention to your wild print, they are generally timeless as other fashions go in and out of style.

Cons: They are not super exciting. But when you are wearing a dress with DINOSAUR print – sometimes you have to sacrifice a cardigan. 


Photo: Modcloth MAK Cardigan, Modcloth Dinosaur Dress, WeLoveColors green tights, Avenue shoes. – Adding a cardigan & some fun colored solids to a print!

2.) Dressing up to go out

Pretty much do the absolute opposite of what I just said. Let me explain.

So, this is also a big one. How do you take a look from office to the theatre or from day to night? People want to wear novelty prints from night clubs to a wedding. Since these prints can vary from the “lolita”” to the 1950’s housewife to the modern day – this one can be a bit trickier to get just right – but it definitely is doable! You start stripping down and adding some glitz! And don’t be scared to show a little skin!

A.) Shoes…Oh my god shoes!

This is the time to go all out on your shoes! This is a time for bright colored heels, strappy sandals, patent leather, and novelty shoes! This can take your outfit from an odd pattern to “an outfit”. I’ve seen ice cream sundae shoes with ice cream dresses, bright red heels with cherry print dresses, black patent Mary Janes with lolita peter pan collar dresses, and strappy sandals with summer novelty prints. They can totally add that “fancy flair” for a wedding or a night club or even a date night out with the hubby.

B.) A Fun Clutch or Purse

This is totally a fun way to add a pop of color or texture to an outfit! I don’t have very many fun purses but I utilize the absolute heck out of every single one. They can totally draw an eye, add a bit of sparkle, and be a great place to store your phone, ID, credit card, and lipstick. And these can vary from a clutch for a more formal night, a long strap or cross body for a club or somewhere you need to keep it close to you. Totally go crazy with the purse!

*My must haves for things I find vital to carry in my purse may be its own post one day. Thoughts? Opinions? Actually, I like that idea. That’ll be next week.

C.) Hair Accessories

Add a ribbon, a headband, a fun hair-tie, a bow, a clip, a barrette, anything! This can make you look a little more put together and look like you are tying in your make-up and hair idea together. A ribbon can take you from plain to lolita or a headband with some gears or metals can take it totally punk or gothic and a hair scarf can make you totally vintage. This is an easy way to tie outfits together!


Now – this is a stage still (again, long time actor) from a play called Cirque with black and golf fishnets, high heels, a heavier make up look, and an ankle band for a more “glamorous” look. The dress is Modcloth, tights are from Target, heels are from zulilly, and the jewelry was a gift!

*Pictured: Joe Swaggerty – Photo Credit: Chris Francia

3.) Dressing For Day-to-Day

Now…when I say day to day – I mean the boring and the average. This is a Saturday off that you are going furniture shopping, getting the groceries, and eating dinner at home! This is to wear out to the mall or Target (because honestly, we all love Target)  or out bowling. These days are (unfortunately) far more common than the date night/wedding/going out style tips listed above. There is pretty much only one style tip I have for this one:

A.) Go loose!

This one is definitely the most fun and the easiest to wear. Throw it on. Don’t worry about creating “an outfit”. Let the adorable print and fun pattern speak for themsevles! I mean, you got it for a reason, right? Love the print! Embrace the quirk! Rock the frock! This also makes your wardrobe even more versatile. If you wear your prints like they are day to day and casual – then they can be casual. It’s all about how YOU wear them. Pair them with flip flops and a pony-tail.


Photo: Modcloth Pie Dress, thrifted pink cardigan, Avenue shoes. *Flip flops, no make up or tights were perfect for this casual day on the dock.


Now my dear Preston helped me justify my dress addiction this way:

“When I buy a suit or a dress shirt – I can pay anywhere between $40-$60 for a shirt, $100-$300 for a suit coat, $80-$200 on a pair of nice pants, $25-$50 on a pair of jeans, $10-30 for a tie, and $50-100 for a pair of dress shoes. If you can get a dress and a cardigan for $100 for a whole outfit – you are totally getting a deal!”

I never really thought about that. Wearing a $100 dress with a $40 cardigan and a $40 pair of shoes – we are still TOTALLY coming out as a good price for an outfit.

I just wanted to give you that little piece of fun idea or history. Just so next time Modcloth or Torrid or Eshakti has an awesome dress – and you can get a fairly good price for it – you’re paying a totally reasonable price for an outfit!  


Photo: Preston & I in our Christmas photos. Featured: Modcloth’s Effie’s Heart Carrot Dress, black ballet flats from Walmart & a silver bow headband from Target. Sometimes less is totally more. (Credit: Lauren Althea Adkins)

So here’s the “end of blog” spiel!

Follow me on instagram for more OOTD and style tips: @abby_hoy

I’m thinking next week I will do a special giveaway! Stay tuned for more details on that!

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Love all you wonderful ladies (and gents!) out there!

How Very,

Abby ❤


Photo: Modcloth Unicorn top, thrfited pink skirt, black WeLoveColors tights, Charming Charlie headband. (I forgot my shoes when I took the pic.)


  1. Kelly Anne

    I adore novelty prints– I have dresses with kiwis, ice cream cones, cartoon cats, flamingos, watermelons, bicycles, and more– and agree about adding solid coordinates to make the outfit acceptable in more social environments. Nice blog.


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