How to wear patterns together as part of your personal style

fashion style tips

Fashion style tips for how to wear patterns together

Patterns are an easy way to make an outfit look visually interesting. When you create outfits like this you can showcase your creativity, personality and create visually appealing outfits without needing a lot of accessories or layering. Pattern mixing within an outfit provides visual interest to your outfit without fussiness.

When considering what patterns to wear, evaluate your frame- if you are larger framed, smaller patterns will be lost on you. If you are petite (5′ 4″ or less), then large patterns will overwhelm you. So how do you know? This will take some experimenting and trying on clothes, but assess yourself visually and see if you like the effect or you want to change part of it. Confirm the patterns to overwhelm you so that you don’t look like you are wearing a tablecloth.

The process – how to wear patterns together

  1. Match the colors in the patterns or have a consistent and common color in the patterns (black and white, tan and ivory, all blue, all pink etc.),
  2. Match the size of patterns – meaning small with small or big with big
  3. Match the type of pattern (i.e. all florals, all stripes, all polka dots, etc.) or match classic patterns together (stripes and polka dots, animal print and stripes, florals and stripes, etc.).or
  4. Do a combination – mixing size of pattern that share colors or type of pattern that share colors.

And remember- go easy with the shoes and accessories. The patterns are the statement.

Check out these three examples.

  1. Wear neutrals with neutrals (shared colors)

    Wear a patterned item with a solid item that shares one of the colors in the pattern. Start with patterns that are in your color palette so they are easy to match with your existing wardrobe. So in the examples below I am wearing a black skirt with a patterned top that is black and ivory. I advance this by then pairing the top with a taupe skirt and then finally a black and ivory skirt. The process: choose a pattern and pair with a color that is in the pattern (eg. black), then pair it with a color that isn’t in the pattern (taupe) and lastly wear the patterned top with a patterned bottom that shares the colors – eg ivory and black.

    How to wear patterns together

    How to wear patterns togetherHow to wear patterns together

  2. Small prints with small prints (shared colors)

    Wear neutral patterned items together to start and then progress. In this example we see the small print shirt with the neutral linen skirt (basic) but it shows a more sophisticated level of styling because the top isn’t paired with denim (for example). I then advance this by wearing the top with the small polka dot skirt. It works because the navy in the print of the top is also in the skirt (sharing the same color). For advanced, I layer a striped jacket – also ivory and navy.

    How to wear patterns togetherHow to wear patterns togetherHow to wear patterns together

  3. Classic prints and shared colors

    Go bold! What classic prints do you have that you can mix together? Polka dots and stripes, floral and plaid, etc.  Also, consider going for complementary or analogous colors (see the color wheel) for help on color theory. So this could mean mixing a green and white patterned top with a blue skirt. You would wear an orange print top with purple trousers. In this example you see the progression from basic (floral top with denim), then with a lovely red trouser (pulling out the color of the flowers in the top) and then finally the pattern mixing of the floral top with polka dot pants – sharing the color royal blue.

    How to wear patterns togetherHow to wear patterns togetherHow to wear patterns together

How to wear patterns together
This outfit won a style contest for Phoenix Fashion Week for the theme “Mixed Prints” – the blue is what ties this outfit together and makes the pattern mixing work! I also layered on a scarf that shares the same color palette.

What method of pattern mixing speaks to you? What do you have in your closet to start experimenting? Start creating new looks this week and see what you come up with.


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