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What do you think of paisley for blouses or skirts?

Certain interpretations of the droplet-shaped botanical pattern can conjure up Beau Brummell wannabes and trippy hippies.

Jaimie Duplass/Getty Images/iStockphoto

The question

"What do you think of paisley for blouses or skirts: charmingly retro or hopelessly dated?"

The answer

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An Etro aficionado would say neither.

The venerable Italian fashion house is known for its intricate, richly hued paisleys that appear on everything from handbags to blazers. It is true, though, that certain interpretations of the droplet-shaped botanical pattern can conjure up Beau Brummell wannabes and trippy hippies.

Large, widely spaced patterns in particular can be risky; paisley is most appealing when all those boteh (the droplet shapes) are packed in like flamboyant little cells at a microscopic rave. Garments sporting this motif are best worn with a less-is-more attitude and blouses or skirts can represent substantial surface area, so keep the rest of your outfit solid and neutral in tone (think black, navy, camel or charcoal).

Etro has been able to use paisley time and again because the design team reinterprets the pattern while applying it to classic silhouettes.

Too much playing around, though, and our eyes can no longer handle the print. Remember, you never want to dizzy someone with your look – it's not a "high" fashion message that you want to be sending.

Amy Verner is The Globe and Mail's Paris-based style reporter. Have a fashion question? E-mail style@globeandmail.com .

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