Summer sizzle

Give your wardrobe an exotic makeover for high summer. Shayantani Sinha goes wild for this season’s trend for all things tropical
The Community By Shayantani Sinha
Published on June 1, 2014

No matter what the weather’s doing outside, you can guarantee a sunny mood when you’re wearing tropical prints. Once reserved for suitcases and desert islands, the Hawaiian shirt-inspired look has moved from beachwear to street wear this summer. Whether you prefer palm trees, tricolour parrots or explosions of hibiscus, there’s a tropical print out there to transport you to sunlounger mode, wherever you are in the world. Go on, join the tropical party.


Going retro is the hottest way to tap into the trend. Rummage through charity shops for authentic Maui-inspired prints that look like they’ve been transported straight from the tropics. To achieve the look with brand new clothes, look for prints with a faded appearance, as though they’ve been through one too many post-holiday spin cycles. If you prefer bright and bold Hawaiian-esque florals, keep the silhouette of your dress classic and simple to let the print do the work. Tropical clothing isn’t for everyone, so try embracing your inner hula girl with a tropical flower headband for occasions like parties and festivals — also perfect for disguising bad hair days.


Say ‘Aloha’ to modern-day tropicals. Think florals on acid with overgrown tropical blooms mixed with animal prints, or against a neon backdrop. If the mix of tropical prints and uber-brights feels too OTT, pare down with crisp white basics like a shirt. Separates, like a blazer and shorts or blouse and trousers, in matchy-matchy tropicals instantly look fresher than an ocean breeze. Pastels and pale colours have a limited shelf life so look for tropicals against a dramatic black background for a print that will easily transfer through to autumn.


If you really want to be transported to the beach, photographic prints are the way to go. These prints are so lifelike and realistic they make you want to step into the sandy scene and sip on a pina colada. Sunset prints have the most dramatic backdrops, complete with fiery hues and moody shadows.
Photographic prints work best for daytime on bikinis, beachwear and dresses, but if you want the look to work for after-dark, try sequins. They may not be quite as life-like but the trade-off is shimmering palm trees and hibiscus flowers that make for perfect cocktail attire.


Borrow your man’s tropical shirt and make it your own. Once the laughing stock of the bar, retro print shirts are now a hot staple. It’s OK to wear it oversized and boxy, as long as you balance it out with fitted bottoms or flaunt your legs. The high street has come up trumps with 2013 tropical versions for females too, if you prefer a fitted version. Short-sleeved numbers will look just as good in the office as slung over a bikini. To really turn the casual vibe on its head, wear buttoned-up to the top for a prim ‘n’ proper take on the paradise trend.


The Community offers these exclusive tips only for you:

  • Use the print to your advantage – all-over prints work best on petite frames, adding length and dimension, while strategically-placed prints will slim down a curvier frame and create a more flattering illusion.
  • To wear this traditionally summer trend in autumn, choose printed blazers and scarves in more muted colours, such as deep jewel tones.
  • Tropical prints are often loud and vibrant so keep the rest of your outfit subdued.
  • For a more conservative tropical look, keep your outfit simple and tailored, wearing one key piece paired with neutral colours and clean lines for a more sophisticated look.
  • Tropical accessories are the easiest way to tap into the trend and will add a pop of colour to your existing wardrobe.

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