15 Ways to Mix Colors and Patterns Like a Stylist
Learn how to mix it up in a way that looks personal and intentional instead of just crazy!
I love to make adventurous choices when it comes to fashion. As a busy mother of three, there are days when putting my outfit together is my only chance to unleash my creativity. One of my great joys comes in mixing pieces in an unexpected way.
Sometimes it works...and sometimes it doesn't.
That's ok though. They're just clothes! They come off at the end of the day.
I've been mixing colors and patterns for some time now, and I've developed a solid sense of what works and what doesn't.
As with any fashion adventure, the rules here are made to be broken. If you're looking for some inspiration before stepping into this new concept, though, the guidelines below can help you find a safe place to start.
Here are my personal findings for this fun trend:
1. Start simple. Mixing black and white patterns is nearly foolproof, and it always ends up looking modern and effortless!
2. Tie your outfit together with a single unifying factor. When mixing patterns, keep the same color scheme throughout both pieces.
3. Pair your outfit with minimalist jewelry and a sleek ponytail. This will help your look to appear purposeful and elegant, rather than messy.
4. Stay within one tonal family. Mix colors in the same group - for example, jewel tones on jewel tones, pastels on pastels, brights on brights. This will look natural and cohesive.
5. Using a tonal spectrum of one color can also be a visually striking choice. For example, you might pair a navy blouse with a sky blue pencil skirt and cerulean pumps.
6. When mixing patterns, consider their scale. Tiny prints should stay with tiny prints, and medium with medium. Avoid mixing oversize prints. It can be visually overwhelming.
7. Wear a matching patterned top and bottom set, but mix them so the top and bottom are in different hues. For example, identical plaids in yellow and blue can look really cool together - as long as the plaids themselves match.
8. Regard animal prints as a neutral.
Due to their wild associations, animal prints can feel intimidating. Aesthetically speaking, though, they are as simple, neutral, and natural as patterns get. They're easier to pair up than you'd think! Just follow the tonal and scale advice above.
9. Try to avoid mixing BOTH colors and patterns in the same look. This can be too much. You want your outfit to be interesting, but also look neat and intentional.
10. All patterns are prints, but not all prints are patterns. Don't confuse the two. Patterns are simple, repetitive, and cover the whole piece of clothing. Prints, meanwhile, do not have to repeat in a predictable way. For this reason, mixing a non-repetive print with another pattern can create visual overwhelm.
11. Keep your silhouette neat. Frills, flowiness, and extra volume are usually a fun way to add interest. Mixed with multiple colors and patterns, though, they can add an unwelcome element of messiness. This look works best with simple, tailored cuts.
12. Choose shoes that add polish to the outfit, but don't distract from it. Look for neutral colors and clean lines. Keep them free of embellishments.
13. Keep makeup simple and polished. I like to set off a mixed print outfit with minimal eye makeup and a bold or nude lip, depending on the overall look. Try out both and see which look rings true.
14. To add to the cohesion of your look, make sure your accessories match your outfit's vibe. For example, a trio of bohemian floral prints can be anchored with brown leather sandals. Use a pair of sculptural earrings to play up the modern feel of a fuschia pencil skirt and cherry red silk blouse.
15. Follow your instincts. Some outfits will feel right, but may not follow the rules above. Wear them. You'll look awesome.
Be wild. Create a persona. Set a mood.
Wear whatever makes you feel like the most powerful version of yourself.
Just have fun with it!