I’m just gonna pat my own back here: one of the most frequent comments I receive about my clothing choices is how good I am at pattern mixing. It’s definitely become the most fun about discovering fashion and developing my own looks.
I’ve always been a visual person. I love patterns and textures and colour. They really do make me happy and help stabilize my moods. People often tell me that they could never pull off some of the bold looks I do, or that they have no idea how to mix patterns. If you feel the same, I want to assert that YES, YOU CAN MIX PATTERNS LIKE A PRO.
Allow me to prove it to you with my very first Style Guide. I’m gonna start with the easiest introductory pattern mixing rules and build up to some of the more “complicated” ones. With a little confidence, you’ll be mixing patterns like a true qween in no time.
Botanical + Geometric
The first rule for pattern mixing that I usually see is to mix stripes with floral. It’s virtually a staple that we see everywhere, and while I stand by it, I have found myself getting a little bored with it. Floral will pretty much go with any geometric. I know some geometric prints like gingham, plaid or houndstooth can get pretty intense, but if you’re starting out, mix your floral with some stripes or polka dots. It’s foolproof.
Another great “introductory” rule to remember is to match your pattern colours. In this example, I’m following the botanical + geometric rule while also using my lilac polka-dot top to match the softer grey tones in the floral skirt.
Big + Small
When pattern mixing, you want to ensure that one pattern still holds attention over the other. There needs to be a dominant part of the outfit to focus on. Here I’ve got a Christmas example where I mixed my busy daintily-printed poinsettia skirt with a larger buffalo gingham. Even though the skirt is very busy, the larger print still ends up pulling attention. It also pulls the red of the berries in the skirt, which unifies the look.
It’s hard to go wrong pairing black and white patterns. In this one, I’m going with double the graphic print. The nice thin with black and white is that it also allows for the addition of colour.
Utilize A Colour Palette
Think of an outfit like a room you’re designing. When you design a room you typically follow a colour palette. So, when putting an outfit together, think of the busiest piece as the palette. In this super pregnant example, I used my long cardigan and pulled the violet/blue stripes with my leopard dress. To add some extra boldness, I also pulled the blue with a skinny belt.
Animal Print Can Be Neutral
Plenty of people are calling leopard print a neutral. I can agree to that statement to some degree. (Really, I just need to invest more leopard print so I can properly test this theory.) That being said, I do find that most animal prints can be utilized in a neutral manner if adhering to the colour schemes. I’ve provided two examples here.
Once you’ve got that all down, you can add further appeal to a look by adding solid colour blazer, tights, glasses, eyeshadow or even your lipstick. The mass of colour acts as an anchor for the ensemble and will definitely catch attention.
Utilize Patterned Accessories
If top + bottom pattern mixing is a bit too intimidating you can always match your scarf or your belt (or in my case, tights) to another garment.
When In Doubt, Don A Belt
Maybe you’ve followed all the above and you’re still unsure. Your best is to put a belt on to break the patterns. Below is an example of an outfit I put together with a skirt that I struggle with mixing in new ways. I love its bold print and colour, but I’ve only ever managed to mix it with stripes. I managed to find this great vertical-striped floral top that mixes really well. It’s got similar colours and contrasts with the skirt, but without the belt, I feel that the patterns would meld together.
Mix with Abandon!
Once you’ve got it all down, you basically do whatever the hell you want. In this one I’m pairing a botanical with a neutral, a big print with a small print, and a monochrome print with a colour print.
So that’s it!
As I’ve mentioned at the beginning of this post, I love colour and patterns. I love fashion. Taking risks is a simple way to build confidence and be a little more daring in my day-to-day life. Fashion doesn’t need to be vain or superficial. It’s fun and inclusive and feel-good. Anyone can step out of their comfort zone. Even you.
So please let me know if my tips help you. Share your Instagram profile if you choose to take pictures of your ensembles. I’d love to see them!