A Guide to (Subtle) Pattern Mixing

Pattern mixing is a fun way to incorporate pieces you normally wouldn’t think to wear together into unexpected, yet cohesive, look. While there are no rules in fashion, some of us like to have guidelines with pattern mixing to keep our outfits looking more put-together rather than clown-ish. Here are my rules on how to mix patterns seamlessly:

  1. ¬†Pattern size makes all the difference. Two smaller prints will be too busy, while two larger prints will look dis-proportioned. Aim to mix one of each and you’ll look like a pattern-mixing expert.
  2. Mix different textures and fabrics. This is a really easy way to mix patterns that will give you a polished look. For example, a silk top with a silk skirt in different patterns might look like one big silky mistake, but if you paired a silk floral top with a linen striped skirt, you’ll create a look that’s pleasing to the eye.
  3. Use a color theme to compliment the patterns you’re mixing. For example, If you have a floral skirt that has a few different colors involved, choose one of those colors in a more subtle, pattern top. Complimenting colors between the patterns makes a big difference.


What not to do:pattern mixing

The two images above are examples of how I wouldn’t pattern mix. While I appreciate their willingness to try new things, there’s a few things I would change. The image on the left uses patterns in equal size, and instead of complimenting colors, it dominantly uses navy. The image on the right uses two smaller patterns together, which creates a rather busy look and leaves no place for the eyes to rest.


What to do:

IMG_8119These girls nailed it. Each look follows all three rules for subtle pattern mixing to create a stylish, cohesive look. They have mixed bigger patterns with smaller patterns, different textures, and complimentary colors without looking too “matchy-matchy”.


Keep in mind that style means something different to everyone and these are only my opinions. My main focus when creating an outfit is to look put-together, so I gravitate towards more conservative approach to pattern mixing that relies on subtlety rather than loud/bold.


How do you pattern mix?

all images via pinterest

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