There’s always a cool lady that turns heads as she walks by in her effortlessly put together outfit.
She’s smart, stylish and has an eye for color and pattern. She has put together different prints and patterns and somehow it looks fabulous>
Do you ever wish you can mix fashion prints and patterns like an expert? It’s not as hard as it looks. Let’s discover how to mix print and patterns today.
Mixing prints and patterns like an expert
Learning the art of mixing patterns couldn’t come at a better time.
Designers have been featuring more beautiful patterns and fashion prints recently.
70s fashion with its love of stripes and patterns is on trend, as well as florals and graphic, grid prints. With so many good prints in style to choose from, it’s time to get bold and try combining your favorites.
You can see here the prints that are on trend in this piece on the 12 best trends for fall 2019 for women over 40.
Guidelines on how to mix prints and patterns
I have one rule that serves me best when I mix fashion prints and patterns: keep colors cohesive.
This rule is what saves me from making an obvious fashion faux-pas.
Five of my easy, secret ways to a cohesive color story that makes me look like a master at mixing prints include…
Sticking to two colors.
My favorite color combo for mixing prints is black and white.
Picking one busy item
Picking the busiest print item and coordinating it with a simpler pattern piece that has fewer colors in it.
Choosing same brand pieces
Mixing and matching patterns from the same store or brand. This will help you not clash, since most brands often work with a limited color range each season.
Layering with a solid color
Breaking up the different printed pieces by layering a solid on top to quiet down all the pattern.
A good way to do this is with a coordinating solid jacket or cardigan, where only a touch of pattern from the top shows through.
Have someone else do the thinking for you
Buying a dress where the fashion print is already mixed for you.
Here are some ideas for fashion print mixing
In the collage above:
This look works because of the muted color palette which all works together. You could have difficulty combining two sets of vertical stripes but choosing a top with horizontal stripes and a skirt with vertical stripes works.
Some prints like stripes and dots are naturals for mixing.
Start with the naturals and build up to bolder prints as you get more confident.
Some favorite, versatile prints that are easy to mix with almost any pattern are:
- Polka dots
- Grid patterns
You can use these three patterns to mix with more complicated prints like busy florals, swirls or abstract prints.
Below are more ideas for you on how you could these patterns together. These stick to the same color palette, with a pop of yellow, for a cohesive look.
Another idea on how to successfully mix prints and patterns is all about repetition.
Try making a whole outfit out of different stripes or nothing but polka dots together. There are two ways to do this:
- Use a large pattern for the top with the same pattern in a smaller scale for the bottom, or vice-versa
- Use the same scale for both patterns, but keep the colors the same. A fun, inventive way to do so is by using a white skirt with black polka dots with a black top with similar sized white polka dots. The mirror effect of the pattern’s colors in reverse is interesting and unique.
The outfits below use the same color palette, with a pop of red in the accessories.
If you decide to stay monochromatic with your pattern mixing, have some fun with a bold accessory statement like a brightly colored belt or contrasting shoe, like above.
A capsule wardrobe for mixing prints and patterns
Here are some ideas if you are looking to put together a capsule wardrobe where everything works either together, or you can also pair tops and bottoms with the block-colored pieces you already have in your closet.
Printed and patterned tops
I’ve stuck to a palette featuring black, white, red and blue here to ensure that everything is easy to coordinate.
These are some of the easiest prints to mix. Look out for stripes, polka dots and florals.
Printed and patterned pants and skirts
When it comes to pattern mixing, you can opt for smaller patterns on your skirts and pants and larger patterns on your tops, or vice versa.
Accessories to use with your printed and patterned clothes
If you are print and pattern mixing, I would try to keep the rest of your accessories relatively simple and cohesive so that your outfit doesn’t end up looking too busy.
Sticking to a color palette of three colors, including your accessories, is a good way to get started with more pattern mixing.
Shoes to wear with your printed and patterned clothes
When it comes to your shoes, you could opt to keep your outfit neutral, and add a pop of color with your shoes.
Or, you could opt for neutral shoes so that they don’t take the attention away from the rest of your outfit.
How to mix prints and patterns like an expert – A capsule wardrobe
Here are some outfits created from the pieces chosen above.
40+ women wearing prints and patterns
Below are some fabulous examples of 40+ women who have stylishly mixed prints and patterns using different techniques.
Georgette (above) has tried one of my favorite techniques – the mirror image technique.
Her skirt is black with white polka dots, while her top is white with black polka dots. She also coordinates her striped shoes, and adds color with her red jacket.
Get a similar polka dot skirt here.
Galiya (above) has teamed a zebra-print top with a skirt featuring animals. It works because it follows the same theme. She picks up the yellow stripes in her skirt with her yellow bag. Here is a similar print top.
Kimba (above) shows one of this seasons big trends, checked wide-legged pants, worn with a striped top. Checks and stripes are a great combination to try. Check out a similar pair of wide leg windowpane pants here.
I asked a few other style experts who love to mix patterns on how they do it. Here is their advice:
Los Angeles based stylist Ali Levine:
“You don’t necessarily have to stick to the same color, but try shades based around a central color palette or theme. The easiest being neutrals to build around. Once you’ve mastered putting prints together in blacks, browns, and even grays, it’ll be much easier to step up to shades of purple, blues, reds, etc… and eventually mix up colors too!”
Singapore based Lindsay Narain, founder and designer of the women’s label VAUGHAN:
“Stripes in a complimentary color palette will befriend your houndstooth without a second thought – especially if the two prints are contrasting in size (for example, a thick, bold stripe with a smaller houndstooth). Layer a striped sweater over your houndstooth blouse, or pair the latter with a horizontal striped skirt. If you keep it in the same color family, you can’t go wrong.”
Lauren Vacula (above), mixed print lover and fashion blogger at A Lovely Side Project:
“Take notice of the size of the prints you’re working with. Pair a smaller print with a larger print (think thin stripes with bold florals) and vice versa (delicate polka dots with a substantial ikat print). Varying print scales will keep your outfit looking interesting instead of too busy.”
Annette Harris, a Washington DC stylist and Certified Image Consultant
Annette trained under Stacey London, famous stylist and host of TLC’s “What Not to Wear”. She offers my favorite advice:
“Own the look! Looking confident is half the battle to stylishly mixing and wearing prints.”
How will you mix prints this season?
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Feature image by Megan