Mix Masters: Pattern Mixing 101

Pattern mixing can be intimidating – you don’t want to look too busy or like you’re crazy – but if you follow these simple rules, you’ll nail it every time.

1. Establish a commonality


Even though you’re mixing it up, your patterns should still have some uniting element to tie it all together. Sticking within a color scheme is a great example of how you can create a thread that unifies the outfit and keeps your patterns from clashing or looking busy. Another great way is to go uniform with your texture – satin top with satin pants will look clean no matter how many patterns are involved.

2. Balance the pattern sizes


Two large patterns paired together will look off, just as two small patterns can look dizzying. Mixing a small pattern with a large one strikes a balance that works well together and evens out the ensemble.

3. Stay away from competing or matchy-matchy pattern choices


Florals are great, but you don’t want to be the floral lady, decked out head-to-toe in flowers. Instead, if you’re wearing a floral skirt, balance it with a striped top. It’s the difference between “wow!’ and “whoa!”

4. Give your prints some room to breathe

Separating patterns with a neutral solid can go a long way. A busy skirt with a patterned scarf will look sleek with a neutral blouse to space it out. This is a great way to dip your toe into pattern mixing without going full-throttle if you’re just trying it out.

5. Embrace old favorites

It can take a while to feel really comfortable boldly mixing wild patterns, so a good jumping off point is to wear patterns you already have in your closet, like leopard or houndstooth, paired with something a little edgier. It is truly the best place to start and you’re more likely to feel confident which means you’re more likely to look great.

If you follow these simple rules, there’s no way you’ll mess it up – so get out there and start mixing it up!

Do you mix patterns? Tell me why or why not and, if you do, upload photos to show us your looks!

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  • Susan Grayson

    Very nice to match. I love to mix and match style. By the way, What happened to Pinterest?? Why are you not using Pinterest?

  • Mariana Hernandez

    awesome, thanks for that

  • Ramie Roberts

    those floral bell bottoms were made for me but I wouldnt mix them I would go with a solid t and love them forever and ever like my children.

  • Lemon Meringue

    Actually I’m quite surprised how good pattern mixing can look! I absolutely adore the floral thing that’s going on in the third picture (big & small flowers). I’m not used to mixing patterns. I do have clothes with both finer and bold patterns, but always stay on the safe side by wearing one piece at the time on a (usually) black background. I do use bigger coloured accessories like bags and scarves to add a little extra in all the blackness, but still on the safe side. This post triggers me to be a bit more fierce with the patterned look, I will take a plunge in my wardrobe to see if I can start right away. Or I just might have found a good excuse for a little retail therapy this weekend!!! After all, it’s Mothers Day on Sunday!

  • Lisa Marshall

    As rule I am not at all adventurous with prints, but now I’m inspired to mix florals, the way you said, mixing a big print with a small print. My mum always told me never mix stripes and florals, but I’ll have to try this as I never knew it could look so good. Thanks so much. Look out here I come.

    Lisa x

    Lisa x

  • Suzanne Brown

    I don’t I’m soo boring :( I want to, guess I just don’t know how this helps ;)

  • Tracy Vives

    Sorry, but I think that wearing a multitude of patterns just makes a person look sloppy and uncoordinated.