Spring Shopping Guide: Ikat Prints

Just last week, I was having one of my periodic dramatic moments in which I wondered if we'd ever see spring, because I'd simply die if I had to wear my winter coat one more day. And then, all of a sudden, today was gorgeous. Spring at long last, and thus a totally appropriate time to begin my spring shopping guide posts. First up are ikat prints, which are totally not a new thing—especially if you shop in department stores, which have been pushing them for several seasons now—but in the deft hands of Joseph Altuzarra, ikat looks incredibly fresh and summer-appropriate. Summer, you say? I thought we were talking about spring! Well, as we all know, spring lasts like five seconds in NYC, so let's get straight to the good stuff, before the weather beats us!

All options in the $$$ section are from Mr. Altuzarra, but the print that really got my attention was the blue version, as seen in this deliciously flattering sheath dress. Now, Altuzarra is a smart designer, not because of his obvious talent, but because of his marketing skills as well--he's mentioned that he designs with an older woman in mind—smart, because that's who can actually afford to pay $2,000 for a dress.

You know Altuzarra really has a good thing on his hands with these ikat prints, because I tend to hate the color orange and yet I love the warm color scheme of this ikat-print pencil skirt. Once again, the cut is flattering (who doesn't look good in a pencil skirt?), with big patch pockets to slim the hips even further. And did I mention it's made of silk?

Surprisingly, the most affordable of the three featured looks in this category is Altuzarra's Nyala dress (okay, $1675 is by no means a bargain, but give me a moment). It's one of those dresses that looks like a top and a skirt, which normally I find a bit contrived, but this one looks natural and well-balanced and interesting. It's also the most subtle ikat interpretation of the three, meaning it will live in your closet forever.

Thankfully, if you don't have $2k to drop on a daytime dress, there are plenty of great lower-priced options, including this leather-trim sheath by Milly by Michelle Smith. This is what we in the biz call a "desk-to-dinner dress" (the meaning is fairly clear) and thus a worthy investment.

BCBG is chock full of groovy block prints this season, and while they're not technically ikat prints, they're pretty darn similar, and much more wallet friendly. The Elouise sheath dress also falls into that coveted desk-to-dinner category, with the bonus of fun hot-pink trim.

But if you want something a little trendier, there's Otte's Ellen dress, a more casual fluid style with a high-low hem. You can wear it to brunch or even to the beach, but I'd throw on a belt and take it out for a night on the town.

As I mentioned earlier, department stores have been fans of ikat for several seasons now, so it's not surprising that all of a sudden, polo tops like this one by Anne Klein all of a sudden look trendy. But if anyone asks, you'll say it's vintage, right?

And, really, why even bother shelling out nearly $2,000 for the Altuzarra when this Jones New York ikat-print skirt is $39 (plus an extra 30% off at checkout at press time)? Okay, it's not silk and you'll probably need to size down (bonus!), but hello.

I particularly like this Everly Clothing ikat-print blouse from Piperlime, because the scale of the ikat print is so tiny that it doesn't scream IKAT, making it much more versatile and work-friendly. I'd actually wear this with another print, like a striped or tie-dyed skirt, but it's the kind of piece that also looks great with jeans or cargo pants or capris...or, you know, everything.

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