What initially felt more like a blast from the past, once playful black and white patterns found their way back on the catwalks adorning a full spectrum of sexy and flirtatious 1960s silhouettes, eventually turned into quite the abstract geometric obsession. Before we knew it the fashion world had already surrendered to the graphic madness and now the black and white prints are being introduced as one of spring 2013’s most notable fashion trends. Which is far from being a bad thing given their means to evoke quite the iconic looks.

The modern renderings of 1960s / mod fashion bring back center stage the bold stripes, exaggerated checks and houndstooth, all while keeping the color palette to a minimum and mixing exuberance with a slight note of restraint when it comes to other elements. Possibly proving tricky to style and wear without hinting towards a not-so-glamorous black and white “uniform”, it’s better to leave any sorts of misconceptions behind and turn to the runways for the best kind of striking inspiration.

Black and white patterns on the runway


Just like when sticking to the plan results in the most favorable outcome, when it comes to the black and white patterns it is indicated to stick to a theme, to a style, to a vision. The tendency to overdo a look is as always beyond tempting, but at the same time it’s keeping things to a fashionable simplicity that guarantees a desirable effect: keen on making you noticed, while becoming relevant.

Black and white stripes on the runway at Oscar de la Renta S/S ’13

Mix & Match.

If keeping it simple seems rather plain and unexciting, there’s always the option to mix and match black and white graphic patterns. For some this process comes effortlessly, for others instead it requires some sort of practice, but whichever the case it can lead to some gorgeous end looks.

Black and white patterns on the runway at Michael Kors S/S ’13


Think exaggerated shoulders, high-waisted pants, structured blazers and high heels. The image of the early 1990s comes instantly back to mind, with all of its powerful vibes and effervescence. For even more of a loud impact, this spring the harlequin print is getting a modern make-over via the bold lace appliques and heavy styling. Magnified accessories or not, this sort of look will amp up the fun factor.

Black and white harlequin print on the runway at Balmain S/S ’13


Maybe the most faithful translation of the mod fashion’s essence, applied of course to the modern times we are living, the clean, elongated and sharp silhouettes featuring a black and white checks pattern still appear timeless and elegant. Styled with low-heeled pumps, chic bouffants and flirty accessories, there’s no possible way these garments will end up looking anything but fabulous.

Black and white checks pattern on the runway at Louis Vuitton S/S ’13

The fun side of the 1960s, with its ultra mini silhouettes and quirky accessories implies taking a few risks but what would fashion be without a few broken rules and other such rewarding activities? Go big or go home, this seems to be the positive note that keeps the 60s outfit fantasy rolling, reading in the exaggerated bowlers, oversized sun-glasses, small box bags and demure white gloves.

Black and white stripes on the runway at Moschino S/S ’13


For night, the black and white patterns put on a coat of shiny sequins, blending together effortlessly almost hiding delicate inserts of black sheerness. The accessories are being kept to a minimal, the beauty look refined, with a strong focus on thick eyebrows and black-and-white, strictly monochromatic makeup. Add a modern version of the famous bed hair and you’re all set and ready to go.

Black and white patterns on the runway at Marc Jacobs S/S ’13

Black and white dominates the newsstand

Having already noticed this not-so-subtle incursion onto the runways, you need only look at the influx of 2013 magazine covers to feature this burgeoning spring trend if you want more supporting evidence.

Louis Vuitton’s mod 1960s inspired use of black and white checks has proved particularly appealing to magazine editorials and covers, while others have opted for graphic black and white stripes or retro-inspired ruffles.

black and white checks
Daphne Groeneveld covers DANSK magazine, spring 2013, photographed by Hasse Nielsen

nadja bender for numero
Nadja Bender covers Numero magazine’s February 2013 issue, in a shot by Sebastian Kim

black and white stripes
Agyness Deyn covers InStyle UK March 2013, photographed by Rankin

kati nescher vogue uk
Kati Nescher for Vogue UK’s February 2013 cover

The ideal accompaniment to a graphic black and white print, it would seem? A 60s inspired hairstyle.

Picture inspiration

If you want more visual inspiration on how to style graphic black and white prints come spring, visit the gallery by clicking on the thumbnails above.

Share some style:

Want to keep up with fashion?

Once a week, we send out an update with the latest fashion trends, styles and collections.
Get yours direct in your inbox and keep ahead of fashion.

Our newsletter is spam free and your email address will never be shared or sold.