Coming of age in the ’90s has left me with a need for pattern mixing. Two weeks ago we talked about how to add color to your outfits, now we can talk about how to add prints.

Handy Tips for Mixing Prints

1. Use colors as your guide.

Now, adding one print is easy. Just take your already colorful outfit and sub in a print in a similar color.

Super simple! But what if we want to use more than one print? We use the same logic. Like the outfit on the right, we know these colors go together so we know that patterns dominated by these colors go together.

2. Go bold but avoid competition.

When you want to rock a bold pattern make sure to give it center stage. Prints that compete for attention are an eyesore and one of the reasons people avoid them. Pair big and small or bright and muted.

On the left the top is a big, bright pattern balanced out by a subtle pinstriped pencil skirt. On the right we have a large pattern on the skirt and while the pattern on the top isn’t necessarily less busy it is scaled down. In both outfits it’s obvious which print is meant to be most noticeable and the other print isn’t trying to elbow into the spotlight.

3. Treat textures like prints.

Sequins, metallics, perforations, embroidery, lace. Obvious textures that cover an entire garment command as much attention as prints.

Even though the two dresses here are actually solid colors, the lace and metallic snakeprint are bold enough that we can look at them as patterns. With both dresses I kept the accessories neutral, with the exception of the purses. Small accessories are a fun way to add a touch of complementary print or texture that if done in a big way, such as a jacket, would be overwhelming.

4. Stripes are pretty much neutrals.

Be they thick or thin, stripes go with pretty much anything and in most instances can be used as a neutral.

On the left we have a floral pattern and a sequin clutch, and some subtle stripes slip right in between the two. On the right we see that not only can stripes be paired with pretty much any print or texture, they also go together very well. To avoid looking matchy-matchy when mixing stripes vary the colors and widths.

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