How To: Mix Patterns

Mixing patterns can be daunting for even the most seasoned of fashionistas. When done correctly, it looks super chic and fashion-forward but when done poorly, it looks a bit like you’ve just reached into your closet and blindly grabbed things.

There are lots of different opinions when it comes to mixing patterns (or prints, or patterns and prints), many of which contradict each other, which means that there are many different ways to mix successfully. For those of you that are just starting out, I’d recommend picking a stripe as one of your patterns. Stripes are essential the neutral of the pattern world and are extremely easy to pair with other patterns.

As you become more comfortable, you’ll find your view of what works together will broaden and you’ll be mixing patterns like your favourite fashion bloggers.

For all you pattern-mixing newbies out there, stick to the following five rules and you should be golden.

  1. 1. Start with two different patterns
  2. 2. Balance with a black jacket
  3. 3. Anchor with a neutral shoe
  4. 4. Add interest with a colourful bag
  5. 5. Finish with strong accessories

Need a visual? Watch this video to see how our ‘Girl in Focus’ Miranda Hudson mixes her patterns to perfection!

Start with a Bold Pattern

In general, one pattern needs to dominate the other. It needs to be bigger, bolder, or brighter than the other one so that it becomes the focal point of the outfit. The bold crane pattern on this tank from Privilege makes it the perfect candidate for pairing with another pattern.

ONLY Mona Tank available at Privilege $39*

Select a Complimentary Secondary Pattern

At this point, I sort of consider stripes to be a neutral but they definitely fall into the pattern category. When picking your second print, pull a colour out of your dominate print and find a piece with that same colour. In this case, the birds in the tank are black and white and these pants are black and white. Also, play with scale. Since the birds are so large, opt for a skinny stripe.

Striped Pants available at Le Chateau $89.95*

Add a Neutral

A neutral piece, like a black jacket or a denim shirt, helps to tone down the patterns and lets you ease into this look. Plus it gives you an out if you start to feel self-conscious (which you shouldn't, it's only fashion after all), zip the jacket up and one of your patterns disappears.

Calvin Klein Bomber Jacket available at Hudson's Bay $119*

Anchor with a Neutral Shoe

You really can't go wrong with a neutral shoe. As you start to get more comfortable, try adding a brighter shoe that either matches one of the colours in one of your patterns or is complementary to the main colour in your pattern (for example if you had paired these black and white striped pants with a black and white floral top - reach for a red shoe).

Platform Sandal available at H&M $34.99*

Add Interest with a Colourful Bag

Much like a neutral jacket, a colourful bag can help to tone down the patterns. When selecting your colour, you want to either pull a colour from one of the patterns or select a complimentary colour (see note above). In this case, we pulled the hot pink from the tank (the birds have hot pink feet and beaks).

Karl Lagerfeld Winnie Leather Camera Shoulder Bag available at Hudson's Bay $188*

Finish with Strong Accessories

Just because your outfit is "loud" doesn't mean you shouldn't accessorize. These black tassel earrings help to finish off the look without being to much.

Tassel Earrings available at H&M $12.99*

How do you mix your patterns?

*Prices quoted are regular prices, before taxes. Price and availability are subject to change. Please see stores for details.