Beginners guide to mixing patterns, colours and textures.

Having fun with fashion.

Mixing patterns (and colours) without looking like you got dressed in the dark…or fell into a jumble sale covered in glue.

Or, As I read in a forum recently “Without looking Wackadoodle” I love that!

As you have probably figured out by now (if you have read any of my previous posts) I am a big fan of colours and patterns.
I usually get dressed without thinking about it too much about it…just grabbing what I feel like wearing and going for it!
Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
Either way, I have fun.

Perhaps I do look a little ‘Wackadoodle” in some people’s eyes but, I am a big fan of believing in yourself.
See this post about confidence, and my daughter’s wise words.

If you are a little shy, tweet me a picture of your outfit, and I can give you a cheer!

beginners guide to mixing patterns
One pattern does not have to mean boring

One pattern does not have to mean boring.
The “Jeans and a nice top” or “Black trousers and a patterned jumper” outfits are nice enough, but if you want to mix it up a little, try adding the pattern to your bottom half or an accessory.

Keep things interesting by adding textures (like a knit) or contrasting colours, like a nude leather jacket. You can also pick out some tonal colours from your pattern.
Don’t forget that colours add depth and interest to you look.

beginners guide to mixing patterns
colours add depth and interest

If you are feeling a little bolder try picking out colours from your pattern… like the subtle version on the right (brown tights) or the punchier look on the left. (coloured tights and a contrasting top).
See how I toned down the effect with a somber Camel Coat and a tan shoe?

beginners guide to mixing patterns
toned down the effect with a somber Camel Coat and a tan shoe

See the original posts here…left and right.

There is nothing to stop you adding a serious punch of colour using your hosiery….see a beginners guide to wearing coloured tights .

I picked out orange flecks from the top on the left and the blue of the birds on the right.
You don’t need to pick out colour with tights, I know they can be quite scary! Try a fab bag, shoes or belt.

beginners guide to mixing patterns
Adding a pop of colour in the form of a pink shoe

Oh, how I love a pop of blue!
Try thinking outside of the box and trying a tone-on-tone look.
Adding a pop of colour in the form of a pink shoe, a quirky bag or a red lip can add drama (not that blue legs need any more drama!)

Try mixing your patterned item with a high contrast colour.
Red goes really well with black and white, it is a classic combination.
Remember to add textures and interesting accessories…like Over-the-knee boots or a statement necklace.
You can add a pop of accent colour like the blue shoes (on the right) to amp up the volume even more!

These outfits might have subtle colour palettes but there is more than one way to skin a cat!
A subtle palette does not mean boring.
Add unusual shapes, vintage shoes, quirky accessories…think textures, like wool and leather or patterns in unusual places, like tights.
There is a lot of black in all three of these looks, but you can’t call them boring!

This outfit has only two patterns in it (well, okay.. three if you include my shoes) but it seems like more because of the contrasting colours.
The jacket picks out the colours in the birds’ tails.
The red belt, cuff and blue bag add more interest, also highlighting the pattern.

You can always tone-down a bright colour and/or pattern combination by grounding the look with a neutral.
In the three looks above the grounding colours are: Black, Navy and Nude/buff.
Think about your accessories…I used a tassel bag, patent booties and furry pompoms to add more fun and interest.

In this outfit the jumper almost provided a third pattern because of it’s rich texture.
Don’t be afraid to bring some different textures into your outfits.
Mix the rough with the smooth!

Three patterns, tone on tone.

When the number of patterns you are mixing increases, you can tone down the effect by sticking to a similar colour palette.
The three looks above are bold, but the colours blend together.
Let’s talk about the middle image…
There is a little more going on, but see how I toned down the look by adding a neutral boot (okay, it has a tassel…I could not resist!), belt and bag?
Neutral accessories can ground a potentially chaotic ensemble.
Don’t be afraid of adding textures to such a busy look…the shoes on the right are crushed velvet and attention grabbing.

Three patterns with contrast.

Please excuse my glum expression in the first shot..I was not very impressed with these culottes.
In the first outfit the three patterns are just subtle touches, a sleeve, bag and scarf.
The rest of the outfit is made up of solid blocks of complementary colours.
Don’t be afraid to add a fun accessory like a hat, colourful tights or statement shoes.

Things to think about when mixing patterns:

  • If in doubt, match the colours not the print.
  • Tone things down with blocks of solid colour.
  • Add neutrals like Navy, Black, Denim, Nude, White or Grey.
  • Try using one dominant and one accent print/pattern.
  • Experiment with different scales (oversized spots with a teeny dot).
  • Mix geometric patterns with organic ones (like birds and stripes or florals and checks).
  • If you want to all out CLASH..go for it!! Try adding a grounding layer, like a wide neutral belt.
  • Experiment with the same intensity of colours and colours in the same family (e.g purples and pinks or oranges and yellows).
  • If you are a little shy SPOTS and STRIPES are a great way to start!

The most important ‘rule’ of all…

Have Fun and smile, Confidence is the best accessory!

Do you love to mix your patterns?
Do you have any great tips?Please let me know in the comments…or tweet me @samantha4blair.

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