How to Mix Prints

Two Methods:Mastering the BasicsTrying Failsafe Print Mixes

Ready to give your style a bold update by mastering the art of mixing prints? Pairing plaid and floral or stripes and polka dots is a fresh way to incorporate more possibilities into your wardrobe or home décor. See Step 1 and beyond to learn how to mix prints without clashing.

Method 1
Mastering the Basics

  1. Image titled Mix Prints Step 1
    Repeat colors. The most essential thing to remember when you're mixing prints is that the prints should have at least one color in common. Repeating colors is the way to help prints complement each other instead of clashing. Colors can pull two completely different prints together and make them look like they were made for each other!
    • One way to repeat print colors is to choose two prints with the same dominant color. For example, you might have a lime green-striped skirt and a paisley with a lime-green background.
    • For a slightly bolder look, choose a less dominant color from one print and match that color with your second print. For example, if you have an ikat print with a touch of rose, pair it with a rose-colored plaid.
    • The colors don't have to match exactly, but they should be close enough that it's clear they are meant to go together.
  2. Image titled Mix Prints Step 2
    Pick a big print and a small print. If you have too many prints in the same size, your outfit or home décor could end up looking busy. Think of prints in terms of their size, and choose a big size and a smaller size to go together. Having prints in a range of sizes creates visual harmony instead of headaches.
    • For example, if you have a skirt with a large floral pattern, try pairing it with a thin-striped top.
    • If your couch has a big plaid pattern, use throw pillows with a smaller print.[1]
  3. Image titled Mix Prints Step 3
    Follow the 60-30-10 rule. If you're mixing three different prints, aim to have the largest print take up 60 percent of the look, choose a medium print to comprise 30 percent of the look, and have the smallest print make up the last 10 percent as an accent. This balances the overall appearance of the prints and keeps them from being too overwhelming.
    • For example, you might wear a maxi skirt with a large floral pattern, a mid-top with a medium stripe print, and statement necklace with a small colorful print.
    • In your home, try pairing wallpaper with a big, bold print with a chair or sofa with medium print and accent pillows or lamp shades with the smallest print.
  4. Image titled Mix Prints Step 4
    Use a solid to break up prints. Sometimes two prints that would otherwise clash need something solid to break them up. Choose a solid color that matches both prints and feature it prominently in between the prints, rather than having the prints layered on top of one another. This gives the eye a chance to rest instead of jumping back and forth between busy prints.
  5. Image titled Mix Prints Step 5
    Mix two similar prints. Prints that are similar in scale but come in slightly different colors can layer beautifully. This is a great way to mix prints if you're after a more conservative, monochrome look that works as well in the office as it does on a weekend.[2]
    • For example, if you have a peach and white polka dotted top, trying pairing it with a black and white polka dotted skirt.
    • At home, try working with 2 - 3 different plaid prints in one room.
  6. Image titled Mix Prints Step 6
    Mix bold patterns with low-contrast patterns. Another great way to incorporate a variety of prints is to choose one that's bold and another that's low-contrast, such as a neutral-toned ikat print. This allows you to create an interesting, finished look without too many overwhelming colors or prints.

Method 2
Trying Failsafe Print Mixes

  1. Image titled Mix Prints Step 7
    Consider stripes a neutral. Stripes are so easy to mix with other prints that they may as well be considered a neutral, like denim or black. When you're at a loss as to how to mix a complicated print with another one, just pick your favorite color from the print and find a striped version of that color to add as a second layer. Believe it or not, stripes match everything from paisley to ikat to polka dots, so when in doubt, let them be your fallback.
  2. Image titled Mix Prints Step 8
    Mix polka dots with plaid or stripes. Round polka dots offset the straight lines in plaids and stripes, adding interest to any outfit or room. Choose large dots and small lines or large lines and small dots, but remember not to mix two prints of similar scale.
  3. Image titled Mix Prints Step 9
    Mix two kinds of animal prints. Style experts often say that "animal on animal" is the way to go when mixing prints. The organic patterns in animal prints like leopard and tiger stripes naturally look great together. Don't be afraid to use contrasting colors when you're mixing similar animal prints!
  4. Image titled Mix Prints Step 10
    Mix black and white prints. You can't go wrong when you mix two different black and white prints, so this is a great option for beginner print mixers. Black and white polka dots look brilliant with black and white stripes or gingham. You can go bold with your print choices if your color scheme is black and white.[3]
  5. Image titled Mix Prints Step 11
    Use accessories to ease into print mixing. If you're just not sure if those floral pants are going to look right with your paisley top, try experimenting with print mixing using accessories at first. For example, introduce a bold new print to your wardrobe in the form of a scarf or belt instead of a blouse. Wear a pair of patterned earrings instead of buying a funky-printed vest to see how it feels to mix prints. At home, go crazy with throw pillows, framed pictures and throws before you splurge on new wallpaper or reupholster your sofa. Once you get used to mixing and matching prints, you'll start sensing what works and what clashes.[4]

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