To the fashion amateur, mixing prints can feel risky. We see models and designers and everyone at NYFW rocking this trend–zebra print with polka dots and stripes with plaid. But those are models and designers and everyone who’s cool enough to be invited to attend NYFW. Is it possible for the fashion unprofessional to mix prints and mix prints well? Maybe not on our own, but with a few tips and tricks, anyone can successfully mix prints and feel confident and ultra stylish. And the best part is, you probably already own clothing that’s covered in prints. Which means, after you become an ace at mixing prints, you can create new outfits from clothes you already own but were previously afraid to style together. You’re welcome *enter winking emoji here* So without further ado, here are a few ways to master the art of mixing prints.
Go Bold, Then Delicate
When mixing prints, start by focusing on one piece of clothing. Maybe it’s your brand new leopard cigarette pants or maybe a plaid trench. If the print is bold, build your outfit around this article of clothing by choosing only delicate prints to match. In other words, try not to mix two bold prints because it’ll seem more like the prints are competing against each other rather than there being a sense of harmony in our outfit. Plaid can be both a delicate and a bold print, as with florals so be careful when mixing these prints. Try this: mix bold, colorful stripes with thinner ones.
Mix Colors, Not Patterns
Mixing prints is all about finding exciting articles of clothing that, when paired together, create a cohesive outfit. One way to create this cohesiveness is to start by focusing on color. It doesn’t matter how contrasting the prints may seem, if they share a common color scheme then they most likely work together. What’s wonderful about patterned clothing is that you have many different colors to pull from. A plaid usually contains three, four, or five different colors that you can use as a point of reference when pairing. The same is true about floral prints and sometimes stripes: the busier the print, the more color to draw from. Mixing prints based on color will create a more put-together look. Try this: pick out your boldest print and focus on one color, then pair it with a delicate print that utilizes just that one shade.
Break it Up with Solids
When creating a look based on mixed prints, remember this rule of thumb: break up the prints with solids. Solids, like a red blouse or black blazer, not only break up the prints, but they also ensure a sense of harmony in your outfit. If you’re rocking a red plaid pant and a leopard print purse, finish off your outfit with a black blouse or sweater of some kind. Since both the pant and the purse feature black, your outfit will be undeniably balanced. Try this: plaid pants and a polka-dotted blouse, paired with a classic denim jacket.
When mixing prints, don’t be afraid to mix styles of prints as well. If it’s true that mixing prints is all about the unexpected, then this look totally nails it. No one will anticipate you rocking such contrasting prints and doing it so flawlessly. Imagine a lacy peasant top with plaid pants: the blouse says hippie-chic, while the slacks mean business. By mixing opposing prints, you’re creating a dichotomy of epic proportions that no one will ever see coming. Try this: combine a boho-chic, tie-dye dress with a blazer.
Stick to the Classics
There are classics that are necessary to every wardrobe: a blazer, a leather jacket, the perfect pair of jeans. The same is true about prints as well. Leopard print is a classic print, and it’s even more classic when it’s in the form of a skirt or faux fur coat. A black and white striped shirt is a classic, as well. And the same can be said for plaid pants. In the world of mixing prints, leopard, plaid, and stripes are basically neutrals. They can be used to pull in color, create visual interest, and they’re perfectly bold. Try this: a black and white striped turtleneck with a leopard-print mini and black flats.
Keep it in the Family
When you’re first beginning to experiment with mixing prints, you might be tempted to mix two different patterns. But actually, you might want to start by mixing prints from the same family. So bold stripes with thin stripes; red gingham with black; zebra-print with leopard or snakeskin. This will give you the practice you need if you’re just an amateur. Plus, mixing prints based on theme will create balance in your outfit rather than the dissonance that can sometimes come when mixing prints. But be advised, mixing two florals prints can be tricky because no two florals are the same. So choose one floral print that’s monochromatic and one that picks up on the color of that first article of clothing. Try this: pair a leopard print ascot with a zebra-print skirt.
Here’s an important reminder when it comes to the complex world of mixing prints: have fun! Don’t forget that mixing prints is supposed to be fun and exciting. It’s definitely not supposed to be stressful. At the end of the day, what you wear should make you feel happy and ultra confident. And if it doesn’t, than that’s not the outfit for you. So whether you’re brand new at mixing prints or you’ve already graduated to mixing prints, patterns, and fabrics, remember to have fun and always be a little adventurous. You got this, girl!