PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 January, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 14 January, 2008, 12:00am

Being able to wear ethnic prints without looking like a backpacking hippie is a skill that few are able to master.

High-fashion designers such as Dries Van Noten, Nicholas Ghesquiere for Balenciaga and Ennio Capasa for Costume National have all managed to modernise ethnic looks with crisp tailoring or by cleverly matching tribal prints with streamlined pieces. But you don't have to pay designer prices.

The key to this look is to pick one ethnic statement piece. And unless you have oodles of confidence and charisma a la Lynn (above, left), don't attempt to pull off her eclectic mish-mash of ethnic influences. As stylish as she looks with her colourfully printed top, leather braided headpiece and Aztec belt, this look will crash and burn for most people.

Another great way to wear ethnic pieces is to contrast the traditional aspect with modern pieces.

ZY (above) has slipped on an oversized, black-and-white tribal print shirt with super short black shorts and black opaque tights. The key to her look are the too-cool-for-school sunglasses designed by Kanye West for Alain Mikli (G/F, 28 Wellington Street, Central, tel: 2523 0103). Her look is streamlined, unfussy and the monochromatic palette makes her look more like a hipster than a hippie. To find ethnic pieces to work your look around, check out Artistic (Shop 145, La Foret, 24-26 East Point Road, Causeway Bay, tel: 2972 2773) for blouses, dress, skirts and accessories with Mexican, Indian or Arabic influences.

For something with a more Native American feel, check out vintage store Retrostone (1/F, 504 Lockhart Road, Causeway Bay, tel: 2838 6419). Check out Yiu Wa Street behind Times Square for stores selling inexpensive ethnic pieces from India, Nepal and elsewhere.


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