How to Mix Patterns & Prints Like a Pro: 3 Essential Styling Tips

In this style guide, I’m going to show you how to mix patterns and prints in your outfits. I know that this can seem daunting at first, but the more you do it, the more confident and comfortable you’ll feel.

There are a few things to keep in mind so that you don’t look like you got dressed in the dark, and I’m going to let you into them here.

1. Combine different sized patterns

The first important tip to remember when mixing prints is to make sure that your patterns are different sizes. As long as you have different sizes of patterns, they won't clash with each other.

The logic and reasoning behind this are that your eye is pulled first to the pattern with the biggest print and then continues to the pattern with the smaller print.

Simple mixed pattern outfits

In this example, the grid pattern on the coat is bigger than the pattern on the boots.

When your patterns are both the same size, the eye doesn’t know where to look first, and that is when a print mix is overwhelming or clashy.

Having different pattern sizes works the same way when you have three patterns in an outfit as well. You need to make sure that you have a big, medium, and small pattern.

Mixing patterns in different items of clothing

Here’s an example of an outfit with three different patterns in it. Your eye is first drawn to the geometric pattern on the skirt because it’s the biggest.

It then works its way down to the diamond pattern on the shoes and finishes off with the subtle polka dot pattern on the headscarf because it’s the smallest.

2. Match the colors in your patterns

Mixing patterns with matching colors

Black and white and animal print go with everything, but if you mix two or three patterns with color, make sure they have at least one color in common.

For example, in the outfit I’m wearing here, you can see that the snake -print pattern has the same creamy, almost yellow color in it, which matches the creamy color in the striped top.

Mixing stripes with florals

If you are just starting out with pattern mixing and feel a bit daunted by the whole thing, then just start out with basic pairings.

The first level of pattern mixing is just to mix two different patterns together. The easiest way to step into pattern mixing is just to mix a pattern, such as a floral pattern, with neutral stripes or polka dots.

As long as the patterns are different sizes, you can’t go wrong.

3. Separate patterns with a solid color

Another way to ease yourself into pattern mixing is to start out with your patterns separated with a solid piece.

How to mix and match patterns in fashion

For example, the solid color pants act as a buffer between the floral shoes and patterned top. In addition, having the green bomber jacket over the top lessens the impact of the top and makes the print mix more subtle.

Try mixing three different prints together when you’re ready for more of a challenge. This can be a bit trickier because you need to have three different sizes - big, medium, and small.

Your main pattern should have color elements that match the other two, but all three don’t have to match. Again, having the third pattern as a neutral stripe or polka dot is always safe.

Separating patterned elements from each other with a solid color piece lessens the impact.

How to mix three patterns together

In this outfit, I have patterned shoes, a patterned crop top, and a patterned button-up, with solid pants to separate the shoes from the top.

How to mix patterns next to each other

Take it up one more level by allowing your patterns to be right next to each other. For example, I love pairing patterned skirts with patterned tops.

Wearing patterned outwear on top of patterned clothing

Or patterned outerwear with patterned tops or dresses. 

How to mix patterns in accessories

If you really want to challenge yourself, why not try four patterns together! It definitely takes some planning, though. This is when I like to add tiny patterns that you might not even notice from far away, like patterned earrings.

Try things out, and you’ll be able to tell whether they work or not. Even if you wear them and they don’t "work," it doesn’t matter; fashion is subjective anyway.

Strut your stuff with confidence, and you’ll look amazing!

How to mix patterns tutorial

That’s all I have to say about pattern mixing - I hope you find it helpful. I think that patterns are fun, playful, and a really effective way of injecting some personality into your look.

Let me know if you’ll be trying any of these tips out in the comments below.

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