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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Pattern Mixing Primer

I'm still learning and playing with pattern mixing, but here's a few tips that seem to work for me.

1. Color match.

Two patterns in similar color schemes doesn't feel conflicted, because the eye can see the outfit as a united whole via the color scheme.

Leighton pulls out the black on black pattern mixing

A beautiful example from All Day Long I Dream About Suits

2. Style match.

You see this combination a lot with the 'ethnic' trend in clothes right now. Basically, any two/three/four/bijillion prints that feel 'ethnic' get thrown together. And, magically, it works.

I think this tip was at work in my pattern play EBEW outfit yesterday.

Both patterns have a stylistically Swedish feel about them.


Mixed ethnic prints from Suno


two different flavors of florals photo via Garance Doré

3. Use patterns in different scales.

Two big patterns compete more with the eye than a big pattern + little pattern. Think of the little pattern as an echo, or the backup chorus...


Big and little animal prints


Big print + Little print Tucker for Target dresses... I happily thrifted BOTH of these dresses from my local Goodwill


4. Feeling match.


As in, match how you're feeling! Think of pattern mixing as your fashion Jelly Belly box of recipes. Two distinct flavors (lemon + coconut) when put together give you something new (lemon meringue pie).

I also had a set of perfume once from Bath and Body works. Each one was labeled with a feeling - like "flirty" or "romantic" or "exciting". So say you wanna look romantic and professional:


I like to mix patterns like I'm mixing flavors. For example, a few floral (romantic) fashion flavor combos:
Floral Flavor Combos: Pattern Mixing



Do you have any pattern mixing tips? You can share them in the comments!

14 comments:

thatdamngreendress said...

this is great advice- I love your examples. I'd say another good rule of thumb is that stripes and polka dots go with pretty much everything!

vintageglammz said...

Thanks for these tips. Im not a regular pattern mixer, but I guess I tend to stick with tip no.1. I can't believe pattern mixing used to be a big no-no. How far we've come!

Jamie - Thrifty Threads said...

Haha, I have to agree with ThatDamnGreenDress...I have almost stopped considering stripes and polkas a "print" because they seem so neutral to me. haha...that must be part of the Anthro aesthetic taking over.

I think all your tips are fantastic. I definitely tend to follow the guideline of choosing prints that use the same color scheme so that the prints don't seem to be competing with one another.

theclotheswewear.com said...

Awesome tips! I love playing with prints and second the comment about how stripes and dots go with everything. Just recently created three different outfits mixing floral and stripes with varying amounts of pattern from large, medium to small. Goes to show that you don't have to go bold to mix prints. So happy I found your blog though EBEW, I'm enjoying your posts!
Van // The Clothes We Wear

Lisa - respect the shoes said...

Loads of great advice, and I love that you're never afraid to play with bold color!

Jazzy E (hivenn) said...

Love these! x hivenn

Style Journey said...

Pattern mixing scares the crap out of me! I have experimented with florals and stripes in little doses and I do like it. Next up for me is polka dots and stripes.

My little knowledge about pattern mixing is stay within the same color palette. I have also seen large and small prints mixed.

Debbie said...

Thanks for these tips! I definitely want to try more mixing. I really love the look in that first picture.

Teal @ Expecting Chic said...

Great inspiration and tips! I always have a hard time mixing patterns. The only thing that has worked for me as I babystep into the trend is mixing subtle patterns, as in tiny stripes with a tight herringbone. I'm going to try to work some of your tips!

Carolyn said...

pattern mixing is so fun. these photos are inspirational

Becky said...

Great examples! I love Blair's outfit the most, and that suit/tie combo is amazing!

Jessica said...

Great tips and love the pics you showed as examples!

Jonathan said...

These patterns could even be used as a theme for wallpapers, printed neatly to a material that's used for walls.

large format printing

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