Flares, structured shoulders, maxis – trends come and go, and often come again…and go again. We expect it, so when it happens it isn’t that shocking and they certainly aren’t groundbreaking. But every so often fashion breaks one of its own rules, and the anti-fashion becomes fashionable. An industry all about pushing the limits of its own norms and trying to create something new when “new” has been done, this isn’t at all surprising. So in this way, the old rule don’t wear more than one pattern at a time is…well, so out.
In fact, while pattern mixing started off as a trend some years ago, it has overstayed its welcome a little too long. You might call it a staple, the original rule voided. While we can’t say for exactly how much influence bloggers have had in changing this, we’d like to say the added amounts of voices in fashion have made all of these rules, like don’t wear navy blue and black together or don’t wear socks with heels seem silly and backward. If you can rock it, then why not, right?
That said, we’re not all natural born Susie Bubbles. When it comes to figuring out which patterns mix together and which patterns look like a mess together, some of us need a little direction. So, if you’re a pattern mixing newbie eager to dip your little fingers into multiple patterns at once, here are 10 tips on how to mix patterns like a pro, including six nearly sure shot patterns to mix.
Tip #1: Mix only two patterns. Advanced pattern mixers, such as Ms. Susie Bubble, can mix seemingly endlessly amounts of patterns. If you’re new to this though, stick to only two to warm up to mixing patterns.
Tip #2: Pattern mix in small doses. A good way to give pattern mixing a go is to start by mixing on separate, say your top, and an accessory, such as a scarf or a belt. You can start off even smaller, by pairing a pair of patterned shoes with patterned socks if you wish. This way you can baby your step into the look until you’re more at ease with it…because feeling unconfident never looks good on anyone.
→ See example from StellaPNP
Tip #3: Mix patterns of similar color schemes. The easiest way to mix patterns safely is to mix two patterns of similar colors. This is a good way to look fashion-forward without looking too edgy. If you’re really uneasy about pattern mixing, try it out first with two patterned pieces that are only black and white.
→ See example from Yan
Tip #4: Mix “classic patterns." Just ask Pucci or Diane Von Furstenberg – there are a whole range of patterns out there just waiting to be thought up. Though all patterns are game for mixing, classic patterns, such as stripes, plaid, gingham, florals, polka dots, and animal prints are the easiest to mix without looking too aggressive. It isn’t advisable to mix two pieces of the same (for example, floral on floral) until you become more advanced.
→ See example from TurquoisePassion
Tip #5: Try these mixes that usually pair together quite well.
-Florals and stripes
-Florals and plaid
-Plaid and stripes
-Stripes and gingham
-Leopard and stripes
-Floral and polka dot
Tip #6: Treat textured materials as patterns. Some articles of clothing are made of materials that are inherently patterned, such as tweed. Since these patterns are usually of a smaller scale, they are great for mixing with bolder prints, which leads to my next point…
Tip #7: Let one pattern do most of the talking. Pattern mixing works best when one of the patterns is bolder or larger than the other one, especially when we’re talking about pattern mixing separates. If the patterns are close in color (tip #3) and in size, you run the risk of looking like you’re wearing a suit. A clown suit, not a cute suit.
→ See example from TurquoisePassion
As you get more advanced you’ll find you want to take your pattern mixing to new levels. Here are four more tips should you wish to continue down this road.
Tip #8: Wear two similar patterns in different colors. You see what I did there? I just negated my own point. Rules schmools and all. In all seriousness, there are ways to mix patterns of two different colors – the trick is to unify the patterns in some other way. A similar pattern in different colors just works especially if you Tip #9 tie the colors together with accessories or shoes.
→ See example from Purplewang
→ Another example from Ruffian Spring/Summer 2013
→ More examples from Preetma Singh
Tip #10: Wear two different patterns in different colors…so long as the colors are in the same family. A more aggressive form of pattern mixing, you can wear different patterns in two different colors by unifying them by color family. Examples would be pink and red, blue and purple, etc. Basically, they should be next to each other on the color wheel. Tie together with accessories, again.
→ See example of me on Street Peeper
Tip #11: Wear it with confidence. If you try this and you aren’t comfortable – change. It’s okay to make mistakes, but if you’re going to go through your day shaking in your boots because you’re worried about what you’re wearing, there’s no reason to put yourself through that. Confidence is key.
Did this seem like a daunting map to pattern mixing? Hopefully not! If anything, just remember, that the way to keep from looking like you just got dressed in the dark is by paying attention to how your patterns can match. See if they can be unified somehow and trust your own judgment. If they look good to you, go.