Ikat prints being are having their moment.  Today I want to talk about how to embrace this trend for work.  If an office environment is more conservative or corporate, the dress code tends to be more classic.  Therefore, it can be hard to be overly trendy.  The best way to do a trend for the workplace is through your accessories.  This way your wardrobe can remain timeless and all you have to do is change up how you finish the looks.  If you’re looking to wear an ikat print and don’t know how, here are some ideas on how to wear it as a scarf.

What is an ikat print?

Before we move on, let’s first establish what an ikat print is, as the process of creating a true ikat (pronounced ee-KAHT) print is quite elaborate.

Most prints are created on woven fabric, meaning that the fabric is created first and then the print is, for lack of a better word, stamped on.  It’s a bit more complicated than just stamping but I can explain screen printing another time.  Ikat prints are much more difficult to create because the yarns of the woven fabric are actually dyed beforehand and then woven into fabric.  How it works is bulks of yarns are bundled together and resists are created.  These resists are created with a wax-like substances that keep any dye from sinking through, sort of like tye-dying, only you are dying yarns, not fabric.  This requires tremendous skill because the weaver has to figure out ahead of time where on the yarns these resists will be in order to create a pattern.  The more colors you add to a these yarns the more complicated it gets.  But it gets even harder, if that is possible.

If you have any knowledge of how fabric is woven, you know it’s done on a loom and  the fixed yarns placed on the loom, that run up and down, are called warp yarns.  To weave fabric, yarns that are called weft yarns weave over and under through the warp yarns.  In design school we had a trick for remembering what the warp yarns and what the weft yarns were. Weft rhymes with left and weft yarns weave from left to right.  Anyway, going back to those dyed bundles of yarn, they are the fixed warp of the loom and, to create the fabric, weft yarns are woven in.  Because the warp yarns were pre-dyed, you get a feathery, one directional pattern after the fabric is created.    Lastly, and not to make your brain explode, sometimes weft yarns are dyed the same way these warp yarns are and when these two dyed yarns are woven it is referred to as a double ikat pattern.  You can watch an ikat print being made here.

And now y’all can go on Jeapordy and rock it if the the answer: “A process of dying warp yarns before weaving a print” comes up.  “What is an ikat print, Alex?”

Needless to say, not every ikat looking print is real and most are just printed fabrics designed to look like one.  There is no way you can get a $20 top that is a true ikat, it’s just way too labor intensive to be that cheap.  However, you don’t have to be loaded to afford and wear an ikat print.  Nowadays, especially given how trendy they are, there are many ikat inspired prints at all price points that are not woven in the traditional way but printed on fabric to look like them.

While you can definitely get ikat printed clothing (you can’t swing a dead cat without stumbling on some garment in an ikat print), I chose to focus on ikat printed scarves in today’s post because, back to what I said earlier, accessories can be a great way to give a classic work look a refresh, and, considering Sunday posts are all about getting dressed, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to not only address ikat prints but show you how you can accessorize using them.  Additionally, everyone is always asking me for scarf posts.  You can read another one of my scarf posts here.

How to Accessorize with an Ikat Print Scarf for Work

The beauty of scarves is that they often give women the opportunity to add some color to more somber work outfits.  Plus, ikat print scarves, along with other types of printed scarves, are like little road maps for the color combining challenged.  Remember when I wrote that post on how to use accessories as a guide for color combining?  (Missed that one?  Read it here)  You can use your scarves to not only add some color to your look but to introduce color through your other accessories.  Here are three work looks using ikat print scarves to give you some ideas.

Outfit #1

In this outfit, a red and white ikat print scarf adds a little something extra to this very classic look.  If you notice, the shirt has a micro pattern of triangle shaped dots.  Print and pattern mixing can be very confusing for many.  A tip to do it right is to play with scale.  Because the size of the dots in this J. Crew shirt is much smaller than the red ikat print scarf by Calvin Klein, the mix works.  Often very large prints or patterns mixed with very small ones blend nicely.  The rest of the pieces in this outfit are a pair of red trousers from Reiss, a navy blazer from Tory Burch, a pair of Boden flat navy slingbacks and a pair of earrings from Nordstrom that have a design that work so beautifully with the classic ikat design.

Outfit #2

I have been so obsessed with yellow lately.  It’s such a bright, happy color but, sadly, few people really look good in it.  Winding a scarf around your neck can be a simple solution for clothing in your closet that may not be the best color for you.  Plus, a printed scarf gives you some opportunity to play with color.

Few would immediately think to pair purple with yellow (unless you are me and a bit of a color freakazoid), but the ikat print of this scarf from Piperlime shows that it is a gorgeous combination.  Not only does the scarf bring a more universally flattering color near the face, but it finishes the look of this yellow shift dress.  Lastly, I popped purple elsewhere with these purple suede flats from Anthropologie and a purple and gold bracelet.  Lastly the outfit is styled with a simple pair gold stud earrings.

Outfit #3

This is a pretty typical work outfit, a pencil skirt and blouse.  Without accessories it can get pretty boring.  However, with just a punch of this ikat print scarf from Nordstrom, not only is the outfit more interesting but it brings in some color.  Using the colors in the print, I added a pair of turquoise Stuart Weitzman pumps a delicate turquoise bracelet and simple hoop earrings.  This is the beauty of accessorizing, especially using them to address trends.  Once you’re done with the ikat print craze, you can keep the outfit and add something different.

Shop for ikat print scarves

Jumping on board the ikat train?  Check out these scarf styles and get on board!