A Beginner’s Guide To Mixing Patterns

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Have you ever looked at Instagram fashionistas and thought, “I love how they mix patterns, but I just don’t know how to do that for myself”? Or saw someone on the street who rocked a patterned top and skirt, but couldn’t figure out why the items looked so good together?

You can mix patterns like a pro, by keeping these 4 easy guidelines in mind. You’ll have more outfit options instantly and get more versatility out of your clothes!

The #1 guideline is to keep two patterned items in the same color tones (so choose 2 neon items, 2 pastel items, 2 jewel toned items, etc.), often with one or more colors that overlap between items.

#2: Put one large print + one smaller print together- the smaller print acts as a neutral/solid, while the larger print is the focus of the outfit.

#3: Or, put two small prints together, in different colors that complement each other (see #1).

#4: Keep patterned items in the same style– it’s easier to wear two complementary vintage floral patterns together than say, a vintage floral with a 1980’s geometric print.

So what does that look like? Below are the same pair of pants that you could wear with 3 different patterned shirts. The pants are a beige color so the pattern reads as a neutral.


In the first photo above, the two small prints complement each other (guideline #3).

In the second photo, the two prints have the same lighter tones, the beige color overlaps between both items, and the top with the larger print is the focus of the outfit (#1 and #2).

In the third photo above, the top with the larger print is the focus (#2).

Still too hesitant to wear patterned pants with a patterned shirt? Try a top that is a solid color, but that still has a pattern, like this striped top in cranberry:

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The examples above stuck with neutrals like navy and beige (small prints in neutrals are quite versatile). But what about bolder colors and prints?


You can wear a black and white striped top a variety of ways. In the first photo above, the two prints follow guidelines 1 and 3 – two small prints in the same colors. In the second photo, there’s a pattern on all three items (the sweater has a chevron pattern), but the tank top is the focal point. The pieces all have similar colors that overlap between pieces (#1), with a larger and smaller print (#2). In the third photo, the smaller printed tank has similar colors as the dress and a similar bold print, but it lets the dress be the focal point of the outfit (#1, #2, and #4).

Speaking of guideline 4,  here’s two other examples of making pattern mixing easier on yourself by sticking to similar style patterns- in this case, animal prints and bold, modern geometrics/florals. Having overlapping colors (#1) keeps the outfits from looking too “all over the board”:


What are your favorite pattern combinations? Please share in the comments!



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