Trend Report: Tribal-Print Skirts

Much like switching to bright nail polish or embracing a steady rotation of summery skirts, my infatuation with bold, tribal-print pieces inevitably emerges when we transition into warmer months—and for good reason! Designers consistently come up with new and refreshing ways to incorporate these indigenous motifs into our spring wardrobes, whether they’re rendering these prints in hyper-bright color palettes, paring them with punk or utilitarian accents, or emblazoning them on our favorite separates. Today, our focus is on the latter, specifically: tribal-print skirts. It doesn’t matter if they’re mini or maxi, these essential items give any ensemble plenty of visual intrigue and have a cool, global-wanderer vibe that feels perfect for spring. Accordingly, I’ve rounded up some top-notch runway references and a few of my fav celebrity looks—including Mary-Kate Olsen and Margherita Missoni—to demonstrate all the reasons why this is a must-try trend this season!

But before I break down the celebrity iterations of this trend, let’s discuss its nuances. For the past few years, designers have given us extremely assertive tribal prints, often created digitally and produced in acid hues—but that’s not on the menu right now. Chalk it up to the season’s spotlight on all things ’70s and bohemian, but the current trend is decidedly earthier and more organic. That doesn’t mean you need to break out your caftans and dashikis though, as today’s skirt-centric focus offers a more modern approach to wearing these African, South American, and Indonesian-influenced prints. For example, at Etro I spotted a gorgeous selection of batik-style separates, like the Silk Tribal Skirt ($825, 212.317.9096), which was expertly-paired with the Cotton Embroidered Peasant Top with Cut Out Shoulders ($2850, 212.317.9096), resulting in luxuriously chic mix of patterns and textures. Additionally, I was over the moon for Diane von Furstenberg’s fantastic display of graphic-prints, especially the eye-popping motif on the ankle-grazing skirt featured above. While the Etro prints mentioned have a traditional look, I like how this particular pattern offers a more playful and modern alternative.

One of the great things about these bold skirts is that there are so many ways you can transition them into your wardrobe! If this is your first time wearing these eye-catching patterns, I suggest taking a page from Keira Knightley and Harley Viera-Newton’s stylebooks and let the print take center stage. For example, Knightley outside the Comedy Theatre in London wearing a Suno multi-colored skirt with a basic black top, Rick Owens leather jacket, suede Acne boots, and tights.  At the CFDA celebration party at J. Crew in New York, Viera-Newton wore Herve Leger’s Claudine Geometric Jacquard Skirt ($1150) with Maje’s Epice Black Top ($241) and Office ankle boots. I’m also fond of the way one stylish civilian on Street Peeper addressed this trend by styling her print skirt with a blazer and lace-up shoes for an unexpected, pseudo-preppy outfit. Again, it’s important to note that each of these ladies made their skirts the focal point of their looks by styling them with simple, understated pieces in neutral tones.

If you’re feeling a little bit more daring, try incorporating some texture into your ensemble a la Mary-Kate Olsen and Taylor Tomasi Hill. Snapped out in Paris last month, Olsen opted to style her Balenciaga Resort 11 skirt and Cutout Boots ($1275, 310.452.4070) with a furry coat, while Marie Claire‘s Style and Accessories Director Tomasi Hill took it one step further at the Brooklyn Museum Artists Ball a few days later, by accenting her amazing mullet-style, floral batik-print skirt—from Thakoon’s F/W 11 collection—with a pair of Alexander Wang Pre-Fall 10 fringe heels and bold bracelets. Finally, if you consider yourself an advanced dresser, turn to the queen of graphic prints—Margherita Missoni—for some smart styling ideas. The tastemaker recently caught my attention at the IFC Films screening of L’Amour Fou earlier this month when she paired a bright pleated skirt with a light blue striped top and gray zig-zag peep-toe heels—all by Missoni. The combination of prints made for the perfect high-impact look.

Fortunately, you don’t have to invest in such high-profile designer pieces to add this look into your own repertoire!  I’ve tracked down tons of alternative options that are sure to make a smash this season. If you fancy Olsen or Knightley’s tribal-print minis, we suggest checking out Myne’s Tyler Printed Skirt ($158), Georgie’s Rafina Skirt ($145), and Forever 21’s Tribal Print Skirt ($15). I also approve of Torn by Ronny Kobo’s Astrid Aztec Print Skirt ($143), which offers a more fitted silhouette similar to the styles seen at Etro. Of course, some of you might prefer a longer hemline, so I’m also including Tucker’s Flowy Long Skirt ($385) and Mara Hoffman’s Fishtail Long Skirt ($36) into the mix. My final pick is The Addison Story’s Layered Triangle Print Skirt ($112), as the neutral color combo would look excellent worn with a basic black top and simple wedges.

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