May 5, 2014

10 Secrets Of A Master Pattern Mixer

Pattern mixing commandments to look sleek, not schizophrenic.


1. Match fabric when mixing patterns



You’ll catch me in crazy pattern combinations, but upon close inspection you’ll notice that the fabrics match. Whether I’m matching or even clashing prints, I make sure they’re of the same material, like only silk or only cotton. Matching fabrics give your outfit a sense of continuity and keeps the silhouette consistent.

2. Pair a small pattern and a big pattern



Tiny patterns piled on top of each other look busy and give onlookers a headache. Two or more large patterns seem clownish and overwhelming. One small pattern and one large pattern strikes the perfect balance between bold and ‘bleh’.

3. Find One Common Color


To make the outfit cohesive, no matter how mismatched the patterns, there should be at least one common color present in every aspect of your outfit. Start off with matching neutrals, like navy, then graduate to pairing primary shades such as ruby or aubergine.

4. Ground Your Outfit With A Solid


Sometimes the defining difference between a tasteful mix of patterns and ‘Ugly Betty’ is a grounding solid. With every 2 patterns mixed, make sure there’s at least one solid colored item in your common color or a neutral.

5. Start With Stripes

via avantgardedesign

via avantgardedesign

If you’re a pattern mixing novice, stripes are the easiest pattern to mix and a fabulous place to start. Just grab a classic navy and white striped shirt and pair with any pattern that includes white. Pattern mixing for dummies!

6. Choose Contrasting Colors

via Harper's Bazaar

via Harper’s Bazaar

Two strong mixing prints will give you patterns purpose. If you combine similar colors, such as red toile on white with red and white paisley, your look will seem muddled and accidental. People should be able to tell that you’re mixing patterns. Leave no room the assumption that your pairings are accidental.

7. Learn To Love Leopard


Leopard can horrifying or spectacular, depending on how you use the notorious pattern. For newbies to the pattern mixing game, leopard is the natural successor to stripes. Leopard’s rich legacy has made the ferocious print a practically neutral pattern.

8. Avoid Matching AND Mixing

via patternpeople

via patternpeople

If you’re mixing patterns, you should under no circumstance be matching patterns. It’s just a terrible, awful, no good idea. You’ll end up looking like a ratchet Sunday school teacher.

9. Neutrals Are Necessary 



Every outfit must include a strong strain of neutral. Patterns, in particular, should include at least one neutral shade to contrast with the bright colors. Never underestimate the necessity of neutrals.

10. Accessorize Wisely

via The New York Times

via The New York Times

Too many embellishments will make you look schizophrenic, but without finishing touches your outfit will seem haphazard. As I mentioned earlier, grounding is important when mixing patterns: you want strong, steady statement pieces. So when the times come to accessorize a mix of prints, go for bold pieces of substance in a solid color like a wide cuff, broad belt, metallic statement necklace, or heavy pendant. Delicate jewelry is a rookie mistake- smaller pieces will only get lost in your ensemble.


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