Fashion Tip: How to Mix Prints...a comprehensive guide

The summer season is perfect to try the daring challenge of mixing prints!

What once was a fashion faux pas, is now an accepted look that is chic and trendy.

I've done quite a bit of research for this article post because it is an age old question that has never really been answered straight on. And although many fashion gurus across internet address the issue, no one has really given an true "How-to" tutorial.
So I guess it's up to me!

Here's a comprehensive guide on how to mix prints, with photos and examples for you to try.


Color Blocking  

This is the most basic way to practice mixing. Find a color-blocked patterned peice (top or bottom, scarf, etc) and build from there. Find a printed peice that complements it either by shapes, the shape of the peice, texture or color. (More to come a little later on color.) Small patterns are easy to start with.

*comment below if you want a Fashion Tip on Color Blocking
Here we see the colorblocked scarf used as a belt
around the simple black and white small patterned blouse.
Mix Patterns

1. stripes and polka-dots are also great places to start because these simple patterns are easy to match with more complex ones.

source: Moschino SS 2011
polka dots and stripes mixed print look

stripes & dots

2.  *example to try: with floral and stripes you can get away with this look because the stripes are so simple it gives more room for a complex print pattern.
3. for beginners, chose one of the peices of the outfit (either the top ot the bottom) that has same color background as the pattern (see star shorts below), so it's almost like a solid. Then choose the other peice in a more liberal pattern.
 4. the easiest trick of all...pick a one peice that already has mixed print pattern to it!

Try small prints with larger prints
The eyes read the smaller print almost like a solid. The key for this matchup is to connect the pattern style (i.e. large polka dots with small ones) or match the colors.
*note, colors don't have to be matchy-matchy. Just complementary.

Mix vertical and horizontal prints

Use color similarities to unify in prints

Bold Print on Bold Print
You have to have guts but it can be done by the fashion foward types. So if you go for it, don't second guess it and wear it with confidence.

1. your base can be mostly solid or simple pattern and then add a scarf, shoe and/or a handbag with a dramatic pattern and/or texture.

2. go crazy with bracelets. Stack them, stack them, stack them.

3. For a fully patterned peice, or a busy clothing item, you'll have a flattering look if you mix one of the items with a lesser patterned piece and then you can add bold printed accessories.

Peices with texture can add depth to any outfit. Textured peices (like tweed) also often have patterns themselves. So use the rules above to play around with mixing prints in this way.

*example to try: stipes and pair of jeans and a textured blazer or coat


1. too much of the same print can be print overkill
*example: leopard print on another animal print

2. too many color stories doesn't tie the outfit together. So avoid mixing prints with dissimilar and uncomplementary colors. You'll just look mixed-matched.
I saw these runway shots and thought 'yuck!'.
This is going overboard.

final thoughts...
How to make the concept pop!

1. choose airy and flowy fabrics. They simply make you feel more easy, breezy and carefree.
2. choose a top or bottom that already has the prints mixed in the pattern. Now the hard work is already done.
3. add a pop of solid color by accessorizing with a bold shoe, handbag or lip.

Finally, don't be afraid to experiment. It's fashion! So if you make a mistake, then just take it off!


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