How to Style an Outfit Using Patterns and Prints
Is your closet full of boring and monotone pieces? Are you often catching yourself wearing the same ten tops? Do you have a collection of chic clothing that has never seen the light of day because you don't know how to wear it?
This quick guide on prints and patterns will have you styling florals and stripes in no time.
General Styling Tips
- Stick With One Pattern or Print. Adding prints to your wardrobe can be intimidating. Start out by choosing simple patterns like stripes or polka dots and avoid mixing. Keeping to just one print adds contrast to an outfit without losing cohesiveness.
- Style With Solid Clothing. Pairing patterns and prints with solid colored pieces allows the eye to focus on one area. Use this technique when you want to show off or bring attention to a statement piece. If your pattern is really busy, styling with solid colors can help ground the look.
(p.s.! If you feel like your outfit looks too “flat” with just solid colors, try adding some texture! A knit sweater, shiny leather skirt, or fluffy jacket can help soften and relax your look.)
- Pull From One Color Scheme. If you pick out a blush and baby blue floral print top, for example, try styling it a light wash pair of denim. The blue in the top will complement the blue denim better than a neutral such as black. This tip works especially well when you are styling a piece with more than 2 colors.
- Layer Prints and Patterns. If you feel that a print is too distracting, try layering a solid cardigan or jacket over top. On the other hand, you can draw attention to a pattern by wearing it over a solid piece such as a turtle neck.
- Contrast Small Prints With Large Patterns. If you feel comfortable mixing more than one print, this is the one rule that you should follow. Generally speaking, small patterns like pinstripes and gingham are too similar to be paired. Instead, for instance, try using a large polka dot pattern to juxtapose thin pinstripes.
Types of Patterns
Smaller polka dots that are placed in rows and columns tend to appear more professional and cohesive. Larger polka dots are usually considered playful and casual.
When wearing stripes, remember that vertical stripes tend to have a slimming effect while horizontal stripes widen. Diagonal stripes can make the illusion of a thinner waistline or broader hips.
Like I mentioned above, florals are a great way to break out of the “neutral color zone”. Small ditzy prints style well with solids while larger floral prints often pair well with stripes or polka dots. Keep in mind Tip #3 as you match busy florals with neutral pieces!
Gingham pairs perfectly with bright colors as well as black and white alike. Many times in fashion, gingham is used in statement pieces like blazers and skirts. Gingham can be spun to be both professional and informal depending on the season, accessories, and event.
Similar to florals, paisley is a busy pattern. Pulling from the fabrics color palette or styling with a neutral is typically key when adding paisley to an outfit.
Plaid is a great print for layering. Especially in the cooler months, adding a flannel to a neutral outfit doesn't only spice it up, but it also is totally practical! Scarves, skirts, blazers are also fun ways to incorporate plaid into your wardrobe.
Last but not least -- animal print. Animal prints style well with any and all neutrals. To avoid looking too much like a crazy cat lady, try sticking to just one printed piece per outfit. Animal print can also look great on accent pieces like belts, earrings, shoes, hats, headbands, and face masks!
Don’t forget, ladies, that there are no rules in fashion! In fact, rules are meant to be broken, right? All of these tips and tricks are simply here to provide guidance in the world of prints and patterns (because they can be scary at first!).
That being said, as long as you feel comfortable and confident, you are free to style your pieces any way you choose. Happy mixing and matching!
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