Make a Statement by Mixing Patterns (It’s Possible, We Promise!)
When pairings of stripes and florals and stripes and polka dots began showing up on runways and in fashion magazines recently, most women’s reactions ranged from “No” to “Heck, no.” And for good reason: no one wants to spend time and money putting together a great wardrobe, only to show up at work one day looking like they picked the first two items in their closet and threw them on together. But there is a way to mix patterns without looking like you skipped your morning coffee. Here are our tips for putting a dual-pattern look together– one that’s sure to make even your most fashionable friends applaud your styling panache.
Black and white makes it all right. The best way to dip your toe into this trend is to find a black-and-white-striped piece that speaks to you. As in the solid world, black and white go with pretty much everything, and they’ll serve as an anchor for the rest of your outfit when you throw in something like a colorful floral. This classic striped J. Crew sailor top would be a great place to start. Pair it with your favorite jeans and a simple toe like this one from Marc Jacobs, then throw on a lightly patterned blazer (or go bold if you’re up for it) and you’ll instantly look like a pattern-matching genius. You can always brighten up the look with a floral pattern. We’re loving these printed floral jeans from Lauren Conrad and think they’d be smashing with this darling number from Lauren Jeans Co or classic v-neck from Ann Taylor.
Keep it in the family– the color family, that is. Feeling emboldened? Your next challenge: try the trend in living color. The best way to do this is to keep your stripe and print in the same color family. For instance, if you’re wearing a classic navy-and-white striped sailor top (like this one from Tommy Hilfiger), try pairing it with a gentle floral on a navy ground– this Ann Taylor LOFT skirt is a great example. Again, the same principle also works in reverse: this red-and-white patterned mini skirt from Vineyard Vines picks up on the red floral accents in this Odille top. A general rule of thumb: if one piece has lots of color, try to use the other piece to just pick up on one of those colors (along with neutral shades like black, white, or tan). It’ll keep things looking matchy, not haphazard.
Tamp down the accessories. Since you’re already breaking new ground in the pattern-matching game, don’t spoil your hard work by cluttering up the look with too many extraneous accessories. When in doubt, go with a neutral like beige, tan, white, or black for your shoes and handbag, and keep jewelry minimal. If you do want to add some additional color to your outfit, try picking up on a shade that’s complementary to your stripe or print (but doesn’t add more pattern). For instance, the navy-and-white sailor top and patterned skirt combo mentioned above would look fun with a splash of red, like these navy-and-red Chaps flats or a simple red cardigan like this one from Kenar. Just don’t add more than one extra color to the party via accessories: either coordinate a bag and shoes or shoes and jewelry in the same shade, or keep the other components neutral.
Sign on the dotted line. Everything we’ve mentioned about stripes above is equally true when it comes to pairing florals and polka dots. Again, the best way to start off is with a simple black-and-white dotted piece (how about an Ecote skirt, Michael Kors silk top, or Greylin silk dress?), which you can then match up with a more colorful floral. Once you’ve mastered that look, move on to bolder match-ups, like this Pink Martini dotted blouse with this navy floral Express skirt.
We hope we’ve shown that mixing patterns is nothing to be afraid of– and that it’s possible using some pieces you may even already have in your closet! Be bold and have fun with the look, and we promise the compliments will take care of themselves.