HOW TO: Mix Patterns

We’ve all fallen into a fashion rut at least once and found ourselves wearing the same thing over and over: a particular patterned piece with monochrome accents.

There’s nothing wrong with that, but sometimes it can be fun to mix things up.

Mixing patterns can be tricky, though, because of the dreaded c-word: CLASHING.

Most of us shy away from combining stripes and plaids, and for good reason. Nobody wants to look like they got dressed in the dark. However, it is possible to mix patterns, and the result can be a bold statement that showcases your personality.

Many students avoid the dreaded c-word by keeping one of their patterns neutral.

“I think that mixing patterns is a great way to show your personal style,” says Elizabeth Benson, a freshman from Fremont. “But I try to keep my outfit from being too crazy.”

How does she do it?

“By keeping one of my patterns in a neutral color, like black and white,” says Benson. “Like today, I wanted to take my summer dress and make it more suitable for fall, so I paired it with a black and white sweater. I have multiple patterns, but the black and white balances well with the floral and keeps my outfit from being too loud.”

A spin-off of her idea is to mix patterns in small doses. This is a great way for those of us who are more cautious to experiment with mixing patterns. For example, throw on a pair of printed shoes with an outfit containing different prints.

The model pictured above is wearing a dark blue dress printed with horses with a pair of red-checkered wedges. The rest of her accessories are also red, tying the outfit together, but there is only a small piece (the shoes) that has a contrasting pattern to the main piece (the dress). The entire outfit has a bit of spunk, but without an overwhelming amount of prints.

Another way that students pull off multiple patterns is by keeping them in the same color family.

Grace Mazurek, a junior from Commerce, likes to keep it simple.

“I stick to one color,” she said. “I have a dark purple polka-dotted shirt that I like to wear with a light purple-striped skirt, and I feel like keeping everything in similar colors helps the stripes and polka dots to flow better.”

In some ways, trying to stay within one color palette can make mixing patterns a bit more difficult and may limit your options, but many magazines advise this as well since it can be easier on the eye.

Whatever method works for you, don’t be afraid to give it a try! Mixing patterns takes courage and it’s not always easy to wear something outside the box, but it can be fun to switch things up and get a little adventurous with your fashion. With all of the patterns and prints on the runway right now, there couldn’t be a better time to give something new a try.