If you're a regular reader of the Citizen, you're probably aware that I am a big fan of wearing mixed prints. Early blog attempts can be seen HERE, HERE and HERE. As you can see, there's a common thread in the way I pattern mix, a method to my madness so to speak, and I'm going to share it with you today.
One of the easiest prints to mix, in my opinion, are floral patterns. You can do a fair share of mixing floral prints with pretty much everything from polka dots, stripes, leopard, and get this: FLORALS. It's so much fun! A small sampling of my past efforts can be seen HERE and HERE.
Pattern mixing may look complicated but anybody can wear mixed prints when you apply the following six simple tips.
The Citizen's 6 Simple Tips for Wearing Mixed Prints:
Tip #1) Unify by print. Unite the prints by a theme. Start by choosing a single pattern or pair up two prints that make sense together. Take floral on floral for example. Or gingham on gingham. By pairing two or three garments with the same type of print, you can bring some order to all the busy-ness of the patterns.
You can then move on and pair differing prints that make sense to be together. For example, try polka dots with stripes. Or floral and stripes. Or Polka dots and, well, anything. Playing with simple geometric patterns is a great way to add interest to your outfits. Just select one or more print to work with, and build your outfit from that.
Tip #2) Unify by color. The next thing you'd want to do is unify your outfit by color. To add harmony to your ensemble, you're going to want to have a common color or set of colors in your garments. For example, 3 floral are pleasing together when there are common colors in their patterns, like the pink, cream and green/blue in my outfit shown. Although the florals patterns are different in scale they all are comprised of a combination of pinks, greens and creams, and some blue. In a way, they "match." Even though the blues and the greens don't quite match, the hues of the pinks do, and that helps unify and pull the look together.
An Easy Mix: try black and white. A great color combo to start with are the "non-colors:" black and white. You may discover that almost any black and white print work well together when you as long as the garments share a similar drape (see Tip #4). Black and white make a simple yet powerful color scheme; the strong graphic quality of black with white makes it an easy way to get a bold look with very little effort.
Tip #3) Play with scale. Pattern mixing looks more dynamic when you play with the scale of the prints. Imagine tiny polka dots with big, fat stripes. Calico is made more exciting when paired with a large "grandma floral" cabbage rose print. Bold diagonal stripes would look wicked if paired with delicate lace print. When you mix up the size of the print, you add interest to your outfit.
Tip#4) Pull together by drape. Choose garments that are similar in drape. By drape I mean they share a similar fabric texture, weight and fluidity. Or as the alchemists used to say: Like attracts like. So a crisp starched cotton works well with a canvas twill, silk flows like milk with silk or rayon, and so on. This principle applies universally to dressing. When you wear garments that match each other in drape, your outfit will look pulled together. Here, my JACOB rayon top and vintage rayon shorts "go" in spite of being different floral patterns because they both hang in a similarly fluid matter.
Tip #5) Experiment, Experiment, Experiment. Experiment and don't be afraid to look foolish. The best combinations come from the most foolhardy (um, I mean playful!) and random pattern mixes, like leopard and floral, or plaid with chevrons. Sometimes the look works, often times not, but be willing to try something new, and you may discover a new pattern to play with. This is not rocket science, folks: we can all do this, so don't be afraid to experiment, and don't be afraid to look foolish. I'm not saying LEAVE the house looking foolish, but most definitely be willing to feel like a clown when matching your baby blue gingham button-down with that Dale of Norway snowflake-motif sweater and your vintage brocade silver hot pants while cavorting in front of your full-length mirror.
Last but not least:
Tips #6) Have FUN! If you can't apply this last principle, don't even bother getting dressed. Pattern play is just that: P-L-A-Y. It's about having fun with what you wear. So if you're not enjoying the process, go back to your safety-locked formula of a neutral bottom stopped with a solid color top.
The following is a list of prints you'll love to mix it up with. Creating a successful mix is part of the fun. You may notice that they are what we call "classic" prints. Classics are items that have a proven track record, they are staples tried and true. I also find that they "play well with others."
- Dots (Swiss dots, Polka Dot etc)
- Hounds tooth
- Glen plaid
And for advanced pattern mixers:
- Tartan Plaid
- Animal prints (including zebra, leopard, jaguar, cheetah, etc)
- "Tribal" prints (Ikat being just one example)
- Lace (Lace is special because it's both a texture + a print)
Am I leaving anything out?
Do you pattern mix?
What prints do YOU like to mix with?
- rayon floral print blouse c/o JACOB
- rayon floral print blouse, Buffalo Exchange
- vintage cotton floral jacket
- floral print sandals, Target
This post is linking up to Visible Monday over at Patti's Not Yet Dead Style.
It's simple to join: just visit and post something that makes you feel confident and visible that day.