What to wear when you're allergic to florals

Lisa Lennkh 10 May 2018

Florals are everywhere but what to do if they still don't catch your fancy? Here's a remedy for staying classy throughout the flowery seasons

As much as I adore flowers (and look forward to them ushering in spring each year), I’m completely allergic to floral clothing. From Liberty’s heritage prints to Cath Kidston’s retro florals, they all give me the sartorial equivalent of a sneeze and a headache. If you’re of a certain age, floral prints can easily go very wrong. I don’t own a single floral print in my entire wardrobe, and I have no plans to change that.

So, how did florals come to be such a spring staple in the first place? It’s because in ancient cultures, flowers acted as a mode of communication, sort of like primitive emojis. Flowers held meanings which were hard to express but easily understood.

To the ancient Chinese, peonies and cranes signified wealth and good fortune. The Japanese used cherry blossom to symbolise kindness. Persians and Hindus used the lotus to represent peace and transcendence. The historical language behind flowers and their meaning on textiles has mostly been lost over time, but many people still find them beautiful.

Designers are perennially inspired by florals and know that many women love wearing them, so stores are suddenly blooming with floral clothing at this time of year. 
I, however, happen to agree with Miranda Priestley’s deadpan line in The Devil Wears Prada: “Florals? For spring? Ground-breaking.” In terms of style, the romantic and girly feeling of florals doesn't represent me, so how do I make spring-like sartorial choices if I’m skirting florals rather than wearing a floral skirt? Mostly, I’m inspired by the colours I see in nature at this time of year; the cerulean blues of the sky worn with cloud white, the intense wild-azalea pink I seek in a lipstick, or a cheerful pair of daffodil heels to liven up a muted outfit. I might be allergic to florals, but I'm not immune to the the colours of the flowers that inspire them. To paraphrase Edna St. Vincent Millay, “I will be the gladdest thing under the sun! I will touch a hundred flowers and not pick (or wear!) one.”