The Do’s And Don’ts Of Mixing Patterns

Mixing patterns is a dangerous game, but played just right, and the effect can be powerfully entrancing. While some may want to opt-out of it altogether, a little mixing and matching is a healthy way to keep your style playful and fresh. Go about it carefully and don’t leave it all to chance – read on to find out the dos and don’ts of mixing patterns. 

Do: Stick To A Palette 

When mixing and matching patterns, the emphasis should be on the patterns, not the colors. So, choose a dominant tone and select patterns in varying shades of it for your larger items of clothing. You can add smaller bursts of colors to your outfit with accessories. 

Don’t: Overload On Color 

Too many dips in the rainbow, and your style may come off as color-blind rather than colorful! Limit your color scheme to charm the senses, not overwhelm them. For formal occasions especially, it’s best to stick to a neutral palette. 

Do: Play Around With Proportion

Are you mixing patterns of the same type? Change up the size of the patterns to add balance. Large windowpane checks on a suit, for example, can be matched with a smaller gingham check on a shirt or tie. When mixing three of the same type, go for a large, medium, and small. 

mixing patterns

Don’t: Make All Your Patterns The Same Size

While doing so might seem to make things easier on the eye, wearing patterns of the same size actually does the opposite. Wearing all checks, all stripes, all polka dots, or any pattern of the same size may very well make you look rather cartoonish. 

Do: Switch Up Line Direction

For looks with multiple stripes, try putting together stripes that go in different directions. A horizontally-striped T-shirt will go well with a vertically-striped shirt. Wearing vertical stripes for tops and horizontal stripes for bottoms is also another tried-and-true combination. 

Don’t: Line Things Up Exactly

If you’re going to wear stripes that go the same direction, at least vary the width of the stripes. This will save you from looking overly matchy-matchy. While you should definitely put some thought into your outfit, it shouldn’t come off as too studied. 

Do: Mix Different Types Of Patterns 

Wearing one type of pattern is an elegant choice, but so is mixing patterns that are as dissimilar as possible. You can mix one simple and one elaborate pattern, like stripes and florals, or mix the roundness of polka dots with the angularity of checks. That way, each pattern will appear striking in its own right. 

Don’t: Mix Too Many Patterns

As you can probably imagine, mixing too many patterns can be a recipe for disaster. Still, there are exceptions to every rule. Mixing three or more patterns with a black-and-white palette can be whimsically bold. If you’re tempted to flout the rules and take on some risks, just be sure to do it with attitude. 

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