The GIF Guide To Fall's Best Prints

Way before the leaves start turning, we begin to notice a seasonal shift in our wardrobe. The clock strikes midnight on Labor Day and, suddenly, most of the colors in our closets disappear, only to be replaced by a wave of blacks and blues. Though we turn to a couple of bright hues here and there this season, now's the time when we save the spotlight for those dizzying, eye-catching prints that liven up our #OOTDs when our layers have seemingly given up. And, this year, the classics are getting a makeover: The polka dots have become the statement-makers, the pinstripes get miniaturized, and the houndstooths go preppy.

To celebrate these wardrobe warriors, we're bringing prints to life, literally. Consider this animated guide to the season's hottest prints an amuse-bouche to the real-life spectacle, 29Rooms. (Stay tuned.) Wear them, mix them, and fill your wardrobe with them. We've got everything you need to ramp up your fall wears with the craziest patterns (starting with these GIFs), ahead.
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Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
Polka dots are a classic, and while the print doesn’t make its mark on the runway each season, the dots always return, consistently straddling the line between highbrow and whimsical. This season, designers are bringing ‘em back in an oversize, non-uniform capacity. Opt for polka dots to add a playful quirk to an otherwise plain look.
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Don't stress over mixing prints — this wool pullover does all the grunt work for you. The polka dots are still here, but they're spread out and, as such, become secondary to the stripes, making for an offbeat pattern.
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Perfectly symmetrical spots can be quite the accent print. Here, the dotted panel that runs across the A-line skirt contrasts with the black background and pink trim.
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Polka dots are most striking when they're all over. When they're slightly larger, though, they take on a more graphic quality.
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The irregular spots give this silk shirtdress a painterly air.
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On the other hand, sizing the dots down can also have a dizzying effect. These tiny, scattered spots play a trick on the eye, making them a stunning neutral in any wardrobe.
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You might not think much of these white-on-black polka dots when the dress is laid down flat. But, when worn, the sheer tulle sleeves allow the bright spots to pop against your skin.
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Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
Snakeskin and other exotic textures are a mainstay in luxury markets (both in apparel and accessories), as are the exorbitant price tags that come with them. What we've been noticing for fall, though, are graphic photo-real prints that recreate the rich look and feel of actual animal hide, rendered on silk and polyester. No animals (or bank accounts) harmed.
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Slither into this halter-neck, open-back snakeskin-printed number. The loose fit makes it a solid end-of-summer piece, as well as a great layering item for fall.
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Shorty get low.
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You already want to keep a more reserved, flattering work dress in rotation in your closet. The all-over snake print ups the ante on traditional officewear.
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All the luxury and sheen of exotic textures at a sweet price point.
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Silky smooth, but fierce to the eye.
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Pair with your favorite knit and this silk-wool blend skirt is half of the perfect transitional outfit.
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Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
Houndstooth tends to be associated with grandmas and prepsters alike, but there’s a reprisal afoot — this tried-and-true print is making a cool comeback for fall. From bottoms to outerwear, bright and graphic iterations abound that will make any simple outfit insta-cool.
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This isn't the punky houndstooth you knew and loved: The new wave of broken checks goes beyond black and white, incorporating bright hues for an even more eye-catching effect.
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Leave it to Mary Katrantzou to take the most obviously graphic of patterns and turn it up a notch. The bright yellow and burgundy jacquard front packs a visual punch, especially against the translucent silk silhouette.
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Even in black and white, the print brings impact to longer silhouettes, like this vintage Yohji Yamamoto maxi-skirt — not for the faint of heart.
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Houndstooth goes prep in this oversized-checked style: The orange, white, and blue palette makes the style feel more feminine, while the large buttons on top give it a playful finish.
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Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
Tartan and plaid are the comeback kids that will never quit. Each fall, we wait patiently for the version that will make its way down the catwalk and into our hearts. This year, it's all about unexpected accents and crisscrossing instead of tight, rigid plaids.
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Plaid can go one of two ways: prep or punk. This season, we're going for the latter. After all, a scrunched-up crop top lends itself better to concerts than seminars. (Although, with a sleek high-waisted trouser, it can certainly be dressed up.)
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We just want to be wrapped in bouclé tweed all winter long.
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Go tartan.
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The uniform skirts of our youth take a more structured approach to grown-up dressing. A layered, asymmetrical hem on this mini has shape and volume to it, so it doesn't feel textbook.
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The bright, layered tartan gives this top an electric finish.
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Peekaboo plaid.
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Illustrated by Elliot Salazar.
This pattern has stuck by you through interviews, conservative dress codes, and other professional endeavors that attempt to suck all the creativity and joy out of selecting an outfit. These stripes allow you to show some flair, in otherwise rigid settings, and for that we are grateful. In the spirit of reclaiming the suit and other items typically reserved for 9-to-5 wear, we're incorporating barely there pinstripes into our off-duty wardrobe in a way that's super subtle. The result, though, is anything but.
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Pinstripes get tiny: It's less about creating a striped effect, and more about subtly disrupting a monochromatic look with a hint of contrast.
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Now this is a pinstripe power suit we can get behind.
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Ramp up your off-duty wear with some put-together pinstripes.
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Read between the (very faint) lines.