Fashion Fridays: How To Mix Prints

tdr fashion friday

mixprintsHappy Friday, fashionistas!

Today we’re talking about something that may be daunting for some, exciting for others.  The topic?  Mixing prints, aka one of my favorite things to do!

Long gone are the days where you couldn’t pair stripes with polka dots or plaids together.  We live in a world of diversity, versatility, color, patterns, and millions of different backgrounds… as well as the freedom to express some of those at the same time.  Like wearing British plaid with an exotic leopard print.  Or a nautical stripe with a feminine polka dot.  Freedom, people!!

Chances are you’ve seen this trend and thought there was no way you could ever pull it off — but I’m here to give you a foolproof guide to mixing different prints and patterns to look chic, not silly.  So break out the patterns — it’s time to have fun!

Rule #1. Pick prints with a similar color/colors in the print.  For instance, if you’re pairing ikat and leopard, make sure at least one of the colors matches, like beige ikat with the beige leopard.  It helps ground the patterns since they have similarities in color.  Try to make the colors as close to the same shade as possible, too.  For instance, don’t pair a navy and white striped top with a baby blue leopard bottom.  Try to keep the blues both navy, or both baby blue.

Rule #2. Pick ONE bold piece that you’ll showcase.  For instance, if your main focus is leopard print harem pants, make the printed top less of the focus.  Or if you wore a plaid shift dress, pop a gingham shirt underneath for a peek of a print — still keeps the plaid shift as the main focus.

Rule #3. Stick with TWO patterns at the most!  Mixing more than two prints can be tricky and veer into costume-y territory.  Two prints are ideal.

Rule #4. Try to keep scale in mind.  If you have a larger striped bottom, try pairing it with a smaller polka dot on top.  Pairing two different prints with relatively the same size can appear overwhelming, depending on the print.  It can work, but it’s trickier to find that appropriate print/scale balance.

Rule #5. Still afraid?  Try mixing textures instead.  If print-mixing is still too daunting, try mixing your patterns for a similar look without all the overwhelmingness of patterns.  For instance, a flowy silk top with leather pants, or a ruffled blouse and a crochet or lace skirt.

When in doubt, stripes go with nearly everything.  Stripes are one of the easiest bases for print mixing.  Stripes work with most patterns without being overwhelming.  A general rule of thumb?  Stick with black and white stripes for a classic look, or navy and white.   Colored striped tops can appear childish or too loud when mixing prints.

Now let’s pair some clothes together, shall we?!

Striped shirt: Target; Floral skirt: GoJane

Why It Works: there’s black and white in the skirt, so there are now two colors that tie in with the bottom pattern.  Plus, the skirt is your focal point in this outfit — the striped top merely acts as a neutral.  Pair this with basic black flats or even a brighter color, like yellow, and a simple camel-colored bag.

Gingham shirt: Svpply; Palenque beaded skirt: Anthropologie

Why It Works: again, here the skirt is the focal point — and how could it not be?  It’s completely beaded and full of bright colors and a punchy floral pattern.  The skirt dresses up the basic, sporty gingham shirt.  The navy & cream gingham is subtle enough that it gives the skirt enough attention.  I’d wear these with nude colored flats or booties.

mix3Plaid shirt: Polyvore; Leopard harem pants: H&M

Why It Works: I love mixing plaid and leopard print but it can be one of the trickier combinations.  In this instance, I would see the leopard harem pants as the neutral.  The tan color pulls into the plaid shirt, which I would wear unbuttoned and cuffed with a basic black shirt and gold jewelry.  The gold jewelry will help anchor the leopard.

Polka dot top: Old Navy; Striped skirt: ModCloth

Why It Works: polka dots and stripes is a foolproof way to mix patterns and is a great intro combo to pattern mixing.  The dainty, smaller dots are balanced by the graphic, bold stripes of the skirt.  Plus, the black waistband of the skirt acts almost as a belt to break up the patterns.  I’d wear this with black flats, or for a wildcard, would pair this classic combo with some brighter accessories, like a punchy yellow tote or hot pink flats.

Leopard pencil skirt, eBay

Why It Works: this is such a chic combination!  The black from the stripes and the black in the spots work together to create a really fashionable outfit.  I’d tuck the striped top into the pencil skirt and pair this outfit with bright red pumps or a bright red belt — one or the other.  The red will add the pop to break up the patterns and give this outfit a little extra personality.

Since mixed prints is becoming a bigger trend, now some designers are created pre-mixed printed pieces so there’s no guesswork!  Wondering if paisley goes with floral or polka dots with leopard?  Wonder no more!  These pieces are foolproof.

From left: Floral & Plaid: TopShop (on eBay); Double Plaid: ModCloth; Dotted Sweater Dress: Sonia Rykiel; Floral & Striped: Peter Som for Kohl’s

So… are you ready to break out your prints?!  I certainly am!  If you need more visuals, check out THIS chart I found.  The styles are hopelessly chic, flattering on virtually anyone, and are effortlessly mixed.  LOVE the striped tee with the structured floral skater skirt!  And that leopard blouse with the silk polka dot pants and red belt?  So chic.

I hope I’ve inspired you to break out your patterns to mix and match!  Remember: fashion should be fun, not stuffy, so experiment until you find something that makes you feel beautiful, confident, and YOU!

Have a fantastical day!

xo, Hayley

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  1. Makes sense and I actually never mixed prints before! Gotta try it! BTW, when you come to NYC?

  2. LOVE! brilliant!

  3. I love mixing prints. Especially since in my world leopard is a neutral 😉 LOL!! Miss you XOXO

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