How to Mix Patterns

Mixing patterns can be hard if you're not sure what you're doing. You may think that it's better to avoid if you're not sure, because mixing the wrong patterns can look terrible. But you can learn a few easy tips to learn how to mix patterns the right way and look good doing it.


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    Wear stripes that flatter your figure. You may encounter clothing with horizontal, vertical, and diagonal stripes. Each is best-suited to a different body type:
    • Horizontal lines are best for lean and thin people. These stripes create the illusion of a wider body. People with heavy torsos should avoid horizontal lines.
    • Vertical lines help to create the illusion of a taller body. Vertical stripes are best for pants and bottoms, as they make your legs appear long and thin.
    • Diagonal stripes can be worn to hide a little extra weight on your body.
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    Consider where on your body you are wearing certain patterns. The complexity and location of certain body parts can affect how a pattern looks. On the hands and feet, for example, complex patterns like plaid, tartan, or flowers can look garish, creating the illusion that the hand is misshapen.
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    Match colors. Make sure that the two or three pieces you're pairing have a common color, even if one is slightly lighter than the other. One of the most important things about matching patterns is making sure the colors look good together. For example, a medium green flowered infinity scarf would look good over a light green striped top. The color of the main pattern should contrast with the background color to create a multi-dimensional look.
    • Repeat colors in patterns. Repeating colors from pattern to pattern can help even disparate patterns seem related. Accentuate shared colors in the patterns. If you use one pattern, such as a stripe, repeat it somewhere, even if the color and scale change.
    • If you're just wearing two plain items of clothing, like a t-shirt and jeans, try not to make them the same color. Sometimes you can get away with it, as with a blue jumper and jeans, or army green trousers and a green top, but you should usually avoid it.
    • When mixing patterns, you only want one item of clothing to stand out, so that both patterns don't stand out and blind you. If you're going for a bright pattern, try teaming it with a pattern of a lighter shade, or even grayscale.
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    Use varying sizes of patterns. One of the patterns should be thinner or smaller. The other should be medium or large. If you're wearing a flowered scarf with a striped shirt, the shirt would look best if it had thinner stripes, and the flowered scarf had medium sized flowers, scaled to the size of the scarf. The contrasting sizes help put the focus on the accent of this outfit. If the stripes were big, the outfit would look wacky and disproportionate.
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    Break patterns up. Especially if you're wearing a long garment, like a dress, belts or jackets can be used as accents to stop patterned clothes from looking garish. This is especially true when wearing multiple patterns. Subtle patterns and showy patterns can make outfits look more balanced, and can act as accents for each other. If you are so not sure about teaming up the pattern, pair it with one solid color.
    • Don't mix two heavy patterns, such as floral and abstract. It may make you look tacky. 'Busy' patterns, such as camo or animal print, tend not to look good when paired.
    • If you're wearing a few patterned purple shirts layered, then wear a chocolate-brown vest over it. Team a heavy mirror work scarf with a plain black dress to make the scarf stand out.
    • Make sure that you never wear a top and bottoms with the same pattern going in opposite directions. For example, don't wear a t-shirt with horizontal stripes, then leggings with vertical stripes.
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    Consider the 60/30/10 approach. Stick to 60 percent of a favorite pattern, 30 percent of a second pattern, and 10 percent of a third as an accent. Try three patterns in a range of scales, such as a narrow stripe, a midsize geometric, and a bold floral. Include solids in supporting roles elsewhere.
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    Take your cues from common garment pairings. Many trends and styles are popular because they're consistently pleasing to the eye. Consider the following clothing combinations:
    • Patterned pants or leggings with a solid top. Striped is okay if you think it will work. It depends what color and pattern the pants or leggings are.
    • Colored jeans or capris with a floral-patterned short-sleeved shirt. These shirts look good tucked in and puffed out a little at the bottom. If you choose to tuck in, belts look good also.
    • Thin striped skirts often look good with patterned top. A small polka-dot maxi skirt looks great paired with a medium or large floral patterned tank top.
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    Go easy on accessories while wearing patterns. You don't want people to get confused as to what they should focus on. If you are wearing an abstract-patterned dress, you can complete your look with simple diamond ear studs. The same holds true for shoes and belts. Remember that the pattern you are wearing should be the prime focus of your overall look.
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    Match buttons. If all else fails, try to match the place of the buttons on your top and bottom. For example, if you have a jumper that has buttons that go down the left arm, try to get some shorts maybe that have buttons going around the left pocket. This doesn't always work, but its worth a try if you are having one of those mornings when nothing at all seems to fit!

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Categories: Fashion