My recent post on “plant pattern theory” was such a hit that I decided to take my colorful ideas to the worlds of fashion and home!
You know I love pattern. No secret here. But this is why… the opportunities for play and experimentation are endless! If you’re not a pattern-file, though, you may feel a bit overwhelmed by the options. So, to help put you at ease, below are my simple beginner tips for mixing patterns in your wardrobe.
First and foremost, consider COLOR. If the colors don’t work, the rest won’t matter. When pairing two patterns (or more, for that matter), you have a couple options. You can choose complementary colors (colors that live on opposite sides of the color wheel) or analogous colors (colors that live on the same side of the color wheel). Since most patterns have multiple colors within them, I find it helpful to find two patterns that share at least one color in common.
Take, for instance, this combo below. I paired a white and navy polka-dotted dress with my now favorite orange and red Gaia necklaces. Blue and orange are opposite each other on the color wheel but both patterns share a touch of navy and white, which helps to tie them together.
The next thing you should be aware of when mixing patterns is SCALE. A good rule of thumb is to pair patterns that are different in scale. A good example of this is my large-scaled mud cloth purse (another Gaia treasure) paired with my smaller-scaled floral pants. Notice how I chose two patterns that share the same ivory neutral color? And the brick red and chartreuse green are complementary colors, to boot!
Lastly, pattern STYLE is important. Meaning, what type of pattern are you working with? Floral, geometric, abstract, tribal, etc? In my experience, too much of the same thing is either overwhelming or redundant. Instead, pair two different styles of patterns for maximum impact and harmony.
These last few combos illustrate everything I’ve mentioned above.
By far, the easiest way to succeed with patterns in your wardrobe is to experiment. Consider these guidelines… Sure. But don’t let that stop you from trying something different if you like it. Just go for it! And if you’re looking for a low-risk way to do just that, try the neck scarf. Come mid-day, if you’ve had a change of heart about your pattern pairing, simply swap that puppy for some earrings or a necklace. No harm, no foul.
This blue gingham shirt is one of my favorites because it pairs so nicely with a wide variety of patterned accessories such as these three distinctly different scarves. Notice anything… COLOR, SCALE, STYLE.
I live by these pattern rules.
So, how do you like to pair your patterns?