Once a faux pas, recently a trend, now a skill for all fashionistas: Pattern mixing is a great way to expand your wardrobe without spending money. Alison Freer, costume designer, and author of How to Get Dressed has 6 simple guidelines to keep you from looking like a fabric sample sale.
- Stay in one color family. The monochromatic look is a good way to start. For the novice, neutral colors are a safe selection. Try a zig-zag with a large floral print. (See above.)
- Color repetition from one pattern into the other. A popular look is to wear a striped shirt that echoes a color from a floral skirt or bottom. Vice-versa works, too. This is also an easy way to start since stripes are a staple print – you probably already own one. (See stripes and plaid here.)
Try wearing small classic prints as if they were a solid or neutral. Thin stripes, small checks, tiny houndstooth, mini polka dots and highly textured fabrics, like nubby or boulce can be styled with a pattern that incorporates the other item’s base colors. (On right: The tiny floral print skirt acts like a “solid” paired with the bold stripes on top.)
- Balance scale and size. Two prints of the same size tend to clash. A bigger print on the bottom is usually better.
- When mixing two “wild” patterns, always add a solid or neutral piece to ground the outfit and tone it down. (See top right: zig-zag print with floral skirt plus solid heels.) Navy is a trend proof classic quick fix.
- Practice makes perfect. Try it out running errands rather than your high school reunion. When you start to feel comfortable and get a few compliments, try it at work.
Next FF: Welcome back flare leg pants!
A reader comments on Fall Capsule Wardrobe:
AJ writes: “For the very first time in my life, I’m packing away summer/spring clothes and just keeping the fall and cold weather clothes in my drawers and my closets. I think it’s saved me time already because I don’t have to comb through all those weather-inappropriate clothes. Also, this is inspiring me to just stick to the clothes I have. Getting my bank account statement the last few months has been sobering because those “little” clothing purchases online add up so quickly and cost a lot more than expected. Thanks!”
Have you tried print mixing yet? How did you put your mix together?