Mixing patterns – where to begin

While going through comments on 8 simple rules for mixing patterns, it was suggested I give some tips on types of patterns to purchase if you want to start pattern mixing. Most of you probably own these patterns, or very similar patterns already, which will make this exercise really easy for you. For those of you that own very few patterns, I’ve outlined my top five patterns for getting into mixing near the bottom of this post.

Start with some very simple patterns in basic colors. Beginning with black, white, navy or tan is the easiest way to ease yourself in. Once you’re comfortable, you can add in other colors:
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These are all uniform colors, sizes and densities. Once you’re comfortable with patterns like these, you can begin to mix in others that are more abstract, varied and unique.

Here are some others to consider:
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IMG_2466 IMG_2469 IMG_2467 IMG_2465 IMG_2464 IMG_2463

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Suze, this is just a huge mess of patterns! What do I do with them?” Here is a depiction of the ways you could (conceivably) wear them:
patterns mixed

See? Many, many ways to mix everything together.

But, if you’re starting from scratch, don’t own many patterns (I’m looking at you Cher) or are really, really confused, these are my top five patterns to start with:
polka dots, stripes, floral, houndstooth or herringbone, leopard print.

These five are very common, come in neutral colors and bright colors, and are very easy to wear together and mix with other patterns. Make sure when purchasing patterns that you choose those that match your personal style and are in colors you’d wear. Don’t purchase patterns with the hopes that you’ll eventually wear them. Start small, start simple and buy those that you’ll wear. Otherwise, you’re just wasting your money!

I really hope this extra bit of information has been helpful. If you’d like me to go into more detail, just let me know in the comments or feel free to email me for extra assistance.



How I mixed patterns

Top: Express
Skirt: Tulle
Jacket: Forever 21
Necklace: Modcloth
Shoes: Target
Tights: We Love Colors (Spruce green)

There’s only one picture today, because I was on dad-duty last night, and I begged my mom to take it because  I loved it!

After my post on Monday about mixing patterns, I felt it was only approriate I wear an outfit mixing patterns. It’s not the most extreme of mixes, but it works!

This is also the first REAL outfit I’ve worn after a weekend of PJs, sweats and t-shirts. Even yesterday I spent the entire day in my PJs, but that was because I wanted to be comfortable while staying with my dad.

I want to thank everyone for your well-wishes, comments and tweets about my December wrap-up post. It’s tough to talk about and I wasn’t sure if I ever wanted to talk about it, but I felt like I needed to. So, thank you for listening.

On a lighter note, I am so excited for The Cape. Why? Because I love superheros. I’m a comic dork. Just ask my husband. He (and the collection in the closet) will vouch for me.



How to: 8 simple rules for mixing patterns

I realize it might be really easy for me to walk into my closet and walk out wearing floral patterns head-to-toe and looks fine, but it’s often harder for other people. I use these eight simples rules when mixing patterns and with a little practice and confidence, anyone can rock the look. (I’ve included real-life examples at the end!)

1. Mix patterns from the same color family.
Using hues from one main color when mixing patterns can create a very subtle look, while still showing your daring side. It’s still visually stimulating for the eye, but in a refined way.
Diane von FurstenbergAnna Sui 3
Diane von Furstenburg, Anna Sui

2. Think of some patterns/textures as solids
If you have a houndstooth skirt, think of that as a solid. Same can go for small polka dots, thin stripes or checks. They’re small enough and understated that the eye can view them as a solid, even though they’re really not.
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Jonathan Saunders, Marc Jacobs

3. Look for patterns that complement each other
The last thing you want to do is look like you got dressed in the dark. One way to make sure that doesn’t happen is to choose patterns that complement each other. Stripes and floral always mesh well, as do leopard and stripes or polka dots.
Alexander Wang2dkny pattern
Alexander Wang, DKNY

4. Don’t go too matchy-matchy
Mixing patterns is supposed to be fun. Although it can look cool, don’t go out head-to-toe in one pattern. That’s too matchy-matchy and can make you look more like Peg Bundy than you want. Although, if you want to push the envelope, switch up the colors of the matching patterns like Rihanna did. It’s a new twist on pattern mixing that keeps the overly matchy-matchy concept fresh.
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Anna Sui, Rihanna

5. Space the patterns out
There is no need to wear a patterned skirt with a patterned jacket, or top. Sometimes mixing a top or skirt with patterned shoes can give your outfit the right amount of “wow” you’re looking for. Or try a patterned scarf with a solid top and patterned bottoms.
alexander wangZac Posen 3
Alexander Wang, Zac Posen

6. Include neutrals in your outfit
When you add a solid with two or more patterns, you allow the visual space of the outfit to be broken up. You do this with stockings, shoes, accessories or another article of clothing. Whatever you chose to add, it’ll help your outfit look even better.
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Dries van Noten, Zac Posen

7. Combine patterns of different densities/sizes
Rather than mix dense prints with dense prints, which can cause a big mess, try mixing a dense print with a sparse print. The same goes for larger prints and smaller prints. Usually if you mix different densities and sizes, the prints balance each other out, because one becomes the focal point and the other becomes the sidekick.
marc jacobs2Zac Posen
Marc Jacobs, Zac Posen

8. Use accessories wisely
As discussed in #5, sometimes spacing out patterns can help breakup the visual space. Accessories are your friend and your foe when mixing patterns. They can overwhelm or balance an outfit. Using a colored belt to break up two different patterned pieces can work really well, as can colored shoes or a neutral purse. Just be careful not to overdo it, because the focus of the outfit is the pattern, not the accessories.
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Proenza Schouler, Anna Sui

Here are some great examples from other bloggers who’ve taken that bold step into the world of pattern mixing:

Vanessa of Snappy and Savvy mixes different sizes, densities and stays within the same color family for a fun, graphic look. Plus, her accessories add a pop of color.
snappy and savvy print mix

Jenni of Pixie in Pumps mixes complementary patterns in the same color family, of different sizes and makes sure to work with her accessories.
Pixie in pumps mixing patterns

Nicole of Employed Panache mixes her polka dots and florals with ease! (See what I said about polka dots and florals?! Amazing!). She also keeps her accessories minimal and understated.
employed panache Mixing patterns

Collette of Statements in Fashion mixes stripes and dots in similar colors for a strong, graphic look. She even varies widths of stripes and size and density of polka dots.
statements in fashion Mixing patterns

Erin of Work With What You’ve Got shows how easy it is to mix stripes and floral, while adding a pop of color with her tights.

Tiffany from A Reason to be Fabulous is a girl after my own heart with stripes, florals and bright colors! (Not to mention the twin-like hair!)

Heather of Embracing your inner cupcake mixes stripes and florals, showing how navy can be a neutral and a focal point!

Me! Rockin’ out floral and polka dots from the 30 for 30 challenge.
Miss vinyl ahoy mixing patterns

Do you mix prints? Why or why not?

(runway images from style.com)


Mixing patterns

Mixing patterns



Dress: Anthropologie via Buffalo Exchange
Cardigan: H&M
Tights: Love-colour love-tights
Shoes: Target
Necklace: Modcloth

I really wanted to wear this dress, but I didn’t want to wear it with red tights (too much red!) so I decided to mix it all up. I think it ended up looking pretty good. The only problem? The skirt hikes WAAAAY up when I sit down… oops. I need a knit skirt to wear under it so when I sit, you don’t see any of my lady parts.

I wore the same shoes as yesterday, mostly because they matched and I didn’t really care 🙂

And, I love that I own two dresses from Anthropologie, but only paid $60 for both of them. Man, do I love getting good deals! 🙂

Oh, and it’s now day three of problems with AT&T Uverse… I’m getting really upset. If they don’t show up today (they didn’t even show up yesterday to fix it), I’m totally cancelling with them and they’ll be refunding ALL my money. Stupid Uverse. It better work, and it better be right. They don’t want to see my fashion-y butt get mad on St. Patrick’s Day.