It happens every year, and here it is again: It's spring, and prints are back in style.
This is both good and bad news. The good part is that you can wear all the same crap you wore last year, and you'll still look fine. The bad news is that you can wear all the same crap you wore last year, and you'll still look fine.
And judging by all the runway shows just wrapping up, the same will go for fall/winter 2008 as well: lace-up heeled booties, plenty of hosiery, shift dresses, delicately flared skirts, undefined shapes. It wasn't the most exciting to look at, but it's sure going to be friendly on the bank account.
Tribal (or "ethnic"—but I prefer tribal, which sounds less colonialist) prints are easily characterized by their loud geometric patterns, usually in earth tones with one or two splashes of color thrown in. The difference this time around, though, is that the prints seem to be largely African-inspired. If "African-inspired" sounds like a pretty loose term, it is: The continent is rich in regional textiles, but this current resurgence is nothing like the Cross Colours movement of the late '80s/early '90s. It's really just all the same dresses and all the same blouses you've been wearing for three-plus years now, but in brighter colors and prints.
The easiest way to incorporate the prints into your wardrobe would be through accessories, such as this $9.90 cloth Forever 21 tote. Although it features panels of tribal prints, it's juxtaposed by some floral panels and pulled together with the black straps. There's even some sparse usage of wooden beads and bells (!) thrown in—trendy without making too much of a statement. And you won't feel bad if you stop carrying it after four months.
Tribal prints are nothing to be alarmed at. And you shouldn't feel compelled to go out and purchase an item featuring loud prints to fit in. At all. Come a few months, it'll be back to the blah grayscale anyway.
Although, if you do give in, I highly recommend heading to your reliable cheapo store of choice—Forever 21, I'm lookin' at you. I'm sure there will be an abundance of cute print sundresses to pair with your flat strappy sandals—all for less than $40. Not everyone has disposable income for disposable fashion.