I love mixing patterns in an outfit! I think it creates such a fun, texturized energy in a look that can give off a vibe of confidence and creativity, making you standout in a crowd. I also know it's something many people shy away from since pairing patterns can feel daunting when trying to figure out what "goes" together and what's "tacky", especially with busy patterns. In my opinion, to some extent it's all just relative, and you should just wear what you love, but it does help to have some background knowledge on color theory and how to create unity in a look. For me, mixing patterns always needs a mixture of contrast and elements that unite them. So, I'm just going to walk through my thought process on three different outfits that pattern mix three distinctly different floral patterns.
Pattern Mixing: Florals
In this outfit, I started with the patterned kimono instead of the floral dress. My mom gifted it to me since it was designed by a friend of hers, who's beautiful clothes you can find here. I wanted the focus to be on the kimono, so the rest of the elements needed to be more understated, which is why this (thrifted) dress is so perfect! It matches the bits of blue in the kimono pattern, but the organized repetition of the flowers contrasts nicely with the kimono's chaotic design. Also the flowers are embroidered on, which also creates a subtle contrast in texture. I ended up matching all of the accessories to the kimono since I felt because the dress was monochromatic and already tied quite nicely the other pattern it wasn't necessary to do more. It also just helped bring more focus to the kimono.
This outfit went through some trial and error before landing where I wanted it. I started with the floral pencil skirt, and my initial thought was to pattern mix with a shirt, but nothing in my closet really felt right, so my next thought was to go with a solid green shirt to pull out the color of the leaves, but at last second I threw on the yellow top to contrast with the magenta/purple of the flowers. I felt like this gave it the more vivid look I was going for.
Because of the length and silhouette of the skirt on me, I knew I wanted to wear a jacket, so I decided that's where I would introduce the pattern mixing. I wanted the pattern to contrast with the skirt to really play up it up, so I needed the pattern to be bolder/have larger elements than the flowers, and I decided to go black and white since the rest of the outfit was so brightly colored, but there is a little bit of black in the skirt that still ties the patterns together. Luckily I had just picked up this perfect jacket (actually a dress) from Goodwill! Making sure each pattern has at least one accessory (shoes, scarf, necklaces) that matches it helps bring the whole outfit together. And voila! All done!
Out of the three outfits, this one is probably the most "daring" considering every element is a pretty distinct and busy pattern. No subtly to be found here. I've worn this dress many times before just as-is with no major styling or accessorizing, but I decided I wanted to change things up. Originally, I wasn't planning on doing any pattern mixing. Instead, I was going to wear a plain teal blazer to add a pop of color, but then this silk jacket I just picked up at Goodwill caught my eye. Honestly, I wasn't even sure if it would work until I pulled it on, but to my delight it did (at least for my aesthetic taste)! The line quality of both the patterns is fairly similar, which is what helps tie them together as well as the use of black. Naturally, the different background colors contrast them.
It turns out the dress must have shrunk in the wash last cycle, which is why I also decided to throw some tights on just to be safe since I was wearing this to work, and at this point I was like "go big or go home" and threw on the floral tights instead of some solid black ones. That same mentality led me to add the floral scarf in my hair. Overall, this outfit serves a very busy look that might not be everyone's jam, but works for my aesthetic.
I hope you enjoyed reading through my thought process with pattern mixing!
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LunaR1776 on Jan 26, 2022
Yes, I love the dresses at my goodwill and I definitely don’t wear many of them as actual dresses. (People are like.. why is she looking at every single dress when she isn’t every single size) I also need to learn to sew to give myself more options with the unique patterns I find at goodwill. I have a couple of tops/dresses that I wear as vests but that’s the extent of my “creativity” with what I get at goodwill.
Oddlilbean on Jan 29, 2022
Goodwill has ruined me for other stores, even their clearance sections (with the exception of curated vintage thrift stores). I totally feel you on looking at every dress regardless of the size. Everything has potential with the right styling or refitting. Part of the reason I learned how to sew was originally just to refit a Goodwill skirt, and then I stumbled down the rabbit of hole of videos on how to make a skirt, and I was like "I could do that. I should do that. Let's do that". Luckily I have a friend who is an extremely good sewer, and she showed me the ropes to get started and let me borrow one of her sewing machines to try out.
I think turning a top or dress into a vest is super creative! It's not something people usually intuitively do. I know I didn't until I started following people on Instagram and reading their tips and studying them for ideas and inspiration.