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Fall's hottest prints for a wardrobe upgrade, according to stylists

There's more to your animal print obsession.
Illustration of different patterned fashion items
TODAY Illustration / Target / Shopbop / Ann Taylor / Zara

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As the weather continues to change, so does our wardrobe. Fall is the perfect season to play with different prints, patterns and textures. And when it comes to print, animal motifs reign supreme in the retail world. From multicolored flannel shirts to plaid oversized blazers, there are an array of prints and patterns you can mix and match.

While leopard print continues to be a favorite during autumn, there are other designs leading the charge this season. Beyond '90s trends continuing to make a comeback, a brush of sequined prints are also popping up across several retailers.

"We’re seeing everything from pastel plaids to psychedelic prints," said New York City-based stylist Gloria Cospito. "Among the many prints and patterns to choose from, the ones that still feel fresh to me but that I also think have lasting power are animal prints, prairiecore florals and tie-dye."

Whether you like to keep it neutral or bold, prints offer a smart way to zhuzh up an outfit. Shop TODAY talked to different fashion stylists and uncovered the hottest prints that will put your best look forward this season.

Prairiecore print

Florals are usually seen throughout the year in different designs. From hibiscus floral fabrics to rose prints, this one in particular feels less vibrant than your typical summery flowers. "Rather than the winter florals we’re accustomed to in fall — where the background is a darker color like a navy, black or burgundy — these prairiecore florals often feature light backgrounds and shades, but the desaturated tones differentiate them from the bright florals that can feel very rooted in summer," mentioned Cospito.

Universal Thread Quilted Jacket

A good way to transition into the season is with a lighter tone that matches the fall foliage. This quilted jacket will keep you warm while adding a hint of color to neutral pieces.

Rebecca Taylor Cotton Button-Front Blouse

If you are going on a countryside getaway, add this number to your luggage. The marmalade tones and beige background will match your corduroys. Also, this is a great daytime look for any fall affair.

Free People Road Trip Patched Coveralls

This one is for the adventurous free spirit! Dive into the season with a unique patchwork-inspired jumpsuit. The rustic design has tiny florals and stripes to give it a more feminine vibe.

Plaid pattern

This is one of the most classically worn patterns during fall. While this print is borrowed from Scotland, plaid usually reminisces the punk rock era and is a symbol of anti-conformity. The pattern has been spotted in movies like "Clueless" and "The Breakfast Club", making it one of the most gender-inclusive prints.

"This print is a key staple this fall and winter and has been showcased in a range of [high-end] to affordable pieces," added stylist and fashion editor Audree Kate Lopez.

Wild Fable Knit Flare Pants

This fun statement piece will be the center of attention when you wear it. Try a warm color like light brown, orange or mustard for a complete revival of the plaid look.

Nine West Remal Loafer

For a festive moment, slide into this pair of loafers. It's hard not to wear this kind of footwear all season long. Wear them with a solid outfit to draw extra attention to the shoes.

Tommy Hilfiger Plaid A-Line Dress

For an easy outfit to wear to work, add this one to your closet. This A-line dress comes with sheer sleeves and a classic collar to give you a polished look with minimal effort.

Ann Taylor Plaid Kitten Heel Mule Pumps

Update your office wardrobe with these mule pumps. It has neutral hues that won't clash with your fall essentials and it will add a hint of elegance to anything you're wearing.

Frank And Oak The Plaid Overshirt-Dress

This overshirt dress adds plenty of versatility to your closet. Wear it like a dress with the added belt or layer it over your outfit. It has a light faded pink color that will complement most of your dark pieces.

Brunette The Label Plaid Jacket Long

The mix of colors and parallel lines add a relaxed feel to the jacket. Style it with your favorite loungewear for an elevated fall style.

Argyle pattern

"In addition to preppy plaids, argyle has made a strong case this season with preppy sweater vests, knit skirt sets and cardigans," said Lopez. Argyle pattern is made of diamonds and has overlapping motifs which add a three-dimensional design (think: diagonal lines and inverted squares). Also, this is a great pattern to update your wardrobe basics.

Anthropologie Stripe Tights

A detailed print accessory can add a signature style to your neutral ensemble. Wear these argyle tights for a conservative and classy feel.

Free People Argyle Viola Sweater Skirt

Most argyle print pieces are attributed to expensive clothes, but that doesn't have to be the case. A simple argyle-printed skirt can make your outfit more sophisticated and put-together.

STAUD Tommy Beaded Bag

Complement your cozy outfit with this multicolored handbag. The traditional print gets a more avant-garde display thanks to the mix of hues. Plus, this is a great fall accessory to slowly introduce patterns into your wardrobe.

Floral print

Though a bit unusual, big florals have made their way into fall's trend list in the form of darker hues and abstract flowers. As seen in recent ready-to-wear runway shows, designers like Jason Wu, Rachel Comey and Alexander McQueen brought a sense of formality to this common print.

"Florals are usually distracting, [but] I find them easier to match with neutral prints such as houndstooth and checkers," stylist and image consultant Amanda Sanders told Shop TODAY.

White House Black Market Mesh Turtleneck

This floral top offers a more redefined look to your typical summer daisy top. Also, the mesh adds an edgy vibe without looking too overwhelming. Add a pair of slacks and gold jewelry for the perfect business-chic look.

Zara Floral Print Dress

Yes, you can wear mini dresses during fall. This black and floral design gives a particularly daring feel to your outfit. Pair it with red stockings or knee-high boots for a romantic vibe or keep it simple with ankle-strap sandals.

LOFT Floral Smocked Blouse

Your work outfit doesn't have to be boring! Add a romantic flair to your dress pants with this floral blouse. It features a flowy design and a flattering smocked mock neck for the ultimate boss chic look.

Mango Floral Print Dress

Opt for a bohemian-inspired dress like this one for your next apple picking adventure. The long-puffed sleeves and flowy fabric offer a great shape to most body types. Also, this dress is constructed with sustainable fibers that will last you until the next fall season.

Animal print

This timeless and fun print can elevate any fall wardrobe. However, stylists recommend always keeping an eye when mixing and matching animal prints. "Make sure the dominant print is mixed with a smaller pattern," said Sanders.

Also, this is a great print for beginners, along with those who have a more traditional style. "Animal print is a really great print because it can act as a neutral in your outfit. Since most animal prints come in a neutral color, they pair easily with bright or dark color and generally have a tight design so it's not overwhelming at first glance," mentioned Lopez.

Zesica Knitted Sweater Cardigan

This light cardigan will keep you stylish yet slightly covered during chilly days. According to one reviewer, "the material is a nice thickness to provide warmth, and the material is not scratchy at all."

Le Superbe Wide Awake Tee

This zebra print top will add a wild twist to your weekend attire. Pull this look together with your favorite boyfriend jeans and a pair of ankle boots for a casual yet edgy feel.

Skechers BOBS Sport Squad

These shoes are the ultimate fashion meets function with their unique leopard print. Aside from their trendy design, these sneakers support animals in need. For every BOBS from Skechers purchase, Skechers donates to help save and support shelter animals.

Aldo Greenwald Crossbody Bag

Not ready for a full animal print look? Try an accessory in a dark animal print. Lopez uses this print as a starter with her clients. "You can start small with an animal print shoe, bag or belt and then work your way up into larger items like a coat, blazer or pants. It's easier to digest versus a bold floral, large checker or loud geometric print."

En Saison Animal Print Babydoll Top

If you're looking for an animal print other than leopard, try this tiger stripe print with denim. With a black and brown tonality, this babydoll top keeps the feminine silhouette while adding boldness to a look.

Chinese Laundry Saldana Heeled Sandal

Add a pop of color to your outfit with this playful sandal. It is comfortable enough to pair with denim, yet extra chic to wear with a black dress for a dinner date.

Checkerboard print

The classic black-and-white grid pattern is making a resurgence. However, designers are spinning the color wheel and adding different colors into checkered styles this time around.

"Geometric prints have brought a Y2K futuristic vibe to the season with matching checkered sets, colorful print suiting and mini dresses. Shapes range from checkers, mixed stripes and abstract shapes," said Lopez.

Vans Checkerboard Slip-On

While Vans resonate with skater boys and ska bands, this iconic brand always elevates a simple outfit. The two-tone slip-on has a comfortable silhouette that can be paired with most casual looks and neutral pieces.

Mango Checks Knitted Sweater

Another item to give your capsule wardrobe some pizzazz, this light pink sweater goes well with dark bottoms and it offers a nice way to reinvent your classy garments. It also comes in black and white for a more subdued style.

Nasty Gal Checkerboard Sequin Blazer Dress

What if you can combine print and texture? Take your outfit to glamorous new heights with this sequined checkerboard print dress. P.S. Sequins have become a major street trend for the fall.

Ann Taylor Checked Oversized Trench Coat

Update your traditional coat with a neutral checkered trench coat. This one adds a hint of elegance to any outfit with a self-tie belt and knee-length silhouette.

Tie-dye print

Surprisingly, tie-dye has made its way back to the fashion forefront. This '80s-inspired print is having a major fashion renaissance thanks to shows like "Saved by the Bell" and the power of joy-dressing.

"People are playing dress-up again. They're excited to get dressed to leave the house, and they're not being as rigid with styles and fashion rules," added Lopez.

AFRM Sailene Dress

While this can be an unconventional print for the fall, it plays well with this blend of trendy colors. This maxi dress features a turtleneck and thumbhole detailing for a cozy yet playful vibe.

Pistola Denim Darya Sweater

If colorful tie-dye is too much for your taste, try a darker take on the design. This lightweight crew neck sweater is a smart choice to transition your wardrobe into fall.

Houndstooth print

Traditionally worn as woven wool fabric in Scotland, houndstooth continues to be one of fall's major prints. "Houndstooth is the most neutral pattern because is black and white and easier to match with another pattern," advised Sanders. However, we're also seeing it pop up in a multitude of colors this season.

Sdencin Houndstooth Pattern Knit Sweater Vest

The pullover sweater vest has been one of the hottest pieces this season. "Sweater vests are back and people are wearing them as a top," said Sangers. It works for any fall occasion and there are many ways to style it with. For example, we love wearing a vest over a crisp white shirt for a nostalgic '90s vibe.

Lulus Get the Grade Green Houndstooth Tweed Mini Skirt

Just like a little black dress, this mini skirt can become your next must-have in your capsule wardrobe. Plus, it makes a great transitional piece to match with your favorite fall sweaters.

Ann Taylor Houndstooth Turtleneck Sweater

This turtleneck is a smart choice for the classic woman who needs an upgrade from her typical black sweater. Wear it with leather pants, a black skirt or boots for a chic office look.

White House Black Market Houndstooth Jacket

Another fall-worthy statement piece to add to your wardrobe, a black-and-white jacket with a subtle print is a great way to make an outfit more appealing.

Tips for mixing prints and patterns

While there is a saying that fashion has no rules, there are a few general rules of thumb to stick to. According to Cospito, it's important to consider two things when mixing patterns: scale and color. "Scale can help you decide what pieces to pair together. Generally, whichever pattern is on the larger scale will become the statement piece, while the smaller scale pattern will act as a neutral."

However, Cospito isn't afraid to mix patterns within the same scale as long you keep the hues into consideration. "Considering the colors in patterns will help you pair pieces that complement each other rather than clash," she said. "Look for prints and patterns with similar tones (cool-toned or warm-toned hues), the same background color or within the same color family for a patterned take on a monochromatic look."

Ultimately, though, the main point is to always have fun and see what works for you.

Tips for mixing printed shoes

Like any other design rule, always consider tone and texture. Though print- and pattern-inspired shoes aren't commonly seen, it's usually better to give footwear its own spotlight.

"Print and pattern from head to toe is definitely a look, but my recommendation is to pair a solid shoe with a print outfit," mentioned Cospito. "I like to consider balance in my styling and a gorgeous print shoe can get lost in an outfit of many other patterns, but will shine when paired with an outfit of solids and maybe one print."

If you're a risk taker and love to try new things, Lopez suggests matching the footwear with the color in the print. "You don't have to wear black boots or white sneakers to complement the print, so have fun with it and add a complementary color, chunky sole boot or a new texture like patent leather, velvet or suede."

How to accessorize prints and patterns

When it comes to adding accessories, Lopez recommends keeping it simple with solid metal jewelry, a neutral bag or a pair of jeans. "In addition to playing with prints, people are playing with added details like feather or shearling trims on a jacket or pants, beaded bags, colorful lucite rings and embroidery — all things in the late '90s / early 2000s era," she adds.

While most solid colors can be mixed with prints she also suggests "to look at a color wheel and pick complementary colors (orange and blue, green and purple) or analogous colors (red, red-orange and orange) for a baseline.

Sanders also recommends that another way to introduce patterns and prints into your wardrobe is to add a leopard accessory with your sequined outfit. "Use it as an accent to address the pattern."

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