Mixing patterns isn’t easy but if you are going to give it a try, remember that the color scheme should be similar and the patterns should be DIS-similar enough that it doesn’t look like you were trying to match them. Start by mixing patterns is small amounts as shown in this ad from Talbots.

The circular pattern of the top is quite different than the houndstooth pattern in the purse. Then they threw in the tweed pattern on the flats! Each pattern is completely different and none of them is overwhelming so they can all get along because the solid black pants ground the entire outfit.

When trying to mix patterns, the more bold the patterns are, the more difficult it becomes. Take a look at the different options below as see how the prints begin to fight with each other as you move from left to right.


Starting on the left, I have pulled together the outfit shows in the ad with the Buckle Print silk blouse and the Heritage wide-leg pant.

Moving to the right, the same blouse is shown with the Donegal tweed pants. Notice that the print on the pant is almost negligible and the pants almost look like they are a lighter gray color. Because the tweed is such a small black and white print from a distance it looks gray. You could “get away” with this look, but it isn’t quite as sharp as the first look.

The next pair of pants are the Signature Fit Plaid and you can see that it starts to compete with the blouse. Because the size of the plaid and the size of the buckle are so similar, neither one of them stands out over the other. That isn’t good because the eye starts to try to “match” up the prints and it doesn’t happen. If you are going to mix prints this close to each other, they need to be different sizes. I usually leave that to the runway models.

On the far right is the Linked Square pant and you can see very quickly that these prints don’t mix well. They compete against each other and the look is harsh and confusing. I’m sure her co-workers would have a headache by the end of the day!

What has been your experience when trying to mix patterns?