5 Tips on How to Mix and Match Patterns + Prints - The Closet Conundrum III

In Part I of my Closet Conundrum Series we talked about 5 Questions you can ask yourself whilst Shopping in order to minimise mispurchases, in Part II we had 5 Questions to ask yourself to help with the dreaded closet purge. Now in Part III we are going to talk about 5 pointers for mixing and matching patterns like a pro.

In recent years, bright, colorful patterns have had yet another Renaissance and pattern & prints mixing has become an ever more popular sport. Today I am going to give you five easy tricks & some extra hints on how to participate even if you consider yourself a pattern newbie. Or thought you couldn't dare. Let me assure you, you can. It's a lot easier than you may think and looks oh so stylish, chic and not to forget funky when done well.

5 Helpful Hints on How to Mix & Match Patterns + Prints

1. Repeat color in two or more garments

Repeating colors in two or more of the garments you plan to wear helps to match them, or build a bridge, despite the pattern they are sporting. For example you could match a blue flower print scarf with a plaid patterned shirt, if both are sporting some of the same color. It does not necessarily need to be the main color, but in the beginning you might want to stick to that.

Laura Bailey, found on Pinterest
palm print skirt, striped shirt, zebra animal print sunglasses, emerald green duffle bag, short red hair, 7 volte oltre
Palm Print Skirt, Striped Tee, Zebra Print Sunglasses

Here is an example of what I meant with bridging. As you can see, I used a bag that is repeating one of the colors of the shoe pattern to build an optical connection to the sweater, which in itself shares obviously the white with the shoes.

plaid pattern shoes, blue metallic clutch, black & white splash pattern sweater, culottes
- And An Alternative

2. Classic patterns in neutral colors for beginners

If you are a mixing virgin, the easiest thing for choosing the second pattern is to stick to the classics like stripes, polka dots or, if you like it, houndstooth in black and white. Since the colors are neutral they go with practically everything. Incidentally, they go funky well with each other too!

Striped jacket, polka dot pants, Leandra Mendine, Man Repeller
Leandra Mendine, Man Repeller (thanks!)

3. Animal prints are neutrals

Johan Hoekstra (thanks!)

You might have seen this expression around the internet, usually referring to leopard print, but in my opinion it goes for all the other animal prints as well. Let's take a look at some of them, starting with zebra. I've said above that stripes are an easy to mix thing, especially if they are in black and white.

After all, what is Zebra if not drunken black & white stripes? (tweet it!)

"Zebra Botswana edit02" taken & submitted by Paul Maritz - Wikipedia


And giraffe? That's so neutral, you wouldn't even see them, would they be laying down. Now all that is left to do is imagining a tiger (think Thundercats) in a plaid shirt and you'll see what I mean. My inquiring mind asked itself why this is so, and my own take on it is: They work with everything because that is what they, essentially have been designed to do by nature.

Bottom line is that animal prints go well with almost everything. Any color, any pattern, they will hardly ever look out of place. If you don't want to take the full plunge, if you'd rather ease in, consider adding an animal print accessory like a belt, a pair of sunglasses, a bag or wearing a pair of animal print shoes together with another print in your outfit. Here in my example I am using a cow print bag and the zebra patterned sunglasses.

cow print bag, black and white splash pattern sweater, zebra sunglasses, red open toe booties, culottes
A Dash of Red

4. Repeat the same theme of pattern.

This means, mix stripes with stripes, checks with checks and so on. In different colors and strength sure, but staying in the same family of patterns. In this example from the Armani Privè Fall 2014 Couture collection, he combined big evenly distributed polka dots with different sized and messy polka dots. Absolutely love this coat btw.

In my own look, I combined different types of squares in the same outfit. And did what I already mentioned in point 3, that is, if you would rather dip your toes first, use accessories to bring the patterns to the look.

Armani Privè Fall 2014 Couture, style.com

yellow lace up shoes, chessboard check messenger bag, plaid socks, plaid bomber jacket, short red hair

5. Big goes well with small

If you have a shirt with big stripes, combine it with a skirt with thin stripes. Or a skirt with a small flower print. Or as we see here my example instead, huge dots combined with a smaller but different pattern. Of course you could switch it around and wear the smaller pattern on top and the bigger at the bottom. Depending on your body type one might work better than the other. You can also take another look at the Armani outfit above which is a good example of this as well.

Sass & Bide SS15 - style.com

P.S. Sorry, I couldn't resist all those animal pics...

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