Pattern Mixing For Pattern-Mixing Phobes

I’m a recovering color-phobe.  My instincts draw me to neutrals (lots of neutrals), not colors.  A few months ago I didn’t believe you could mix black and navy – I’m still not sure you really can, but my accidental combination worked out okay.    The majority of the shirts in my wardrobe are light blue, dark red, teal/peacock, and black, with the occasional brown.  Until this summer, I didn’t own many dresses with colors or prints.   When I got put in olive and lavender together for the Paper Doll Project, I thought the world was going to end.  It was a huge epiphany when I realized I could wear a colored tee under that maxi instead of a white one, and when I realized it actually looked okay when I wore a teal cardigan over an olive tee.

So you can probably guess that mixing patterns is about as intimidating to me as quantum physics.

Still, when I found myself with a need to layer and a craving to wear a scarf, a little idea surfaced, borne on the same little voice that told me it would be okay to wear teal and olive together.   I could wear this Breton-stripe shirt and a floral scarf and…

And I got to wear my new hat!  I’ve never owned a proper hat before.  I feel supremely chic, even if it is from Target.

So, if you’re color-phobic and pattern-phobic like me, here’s how to work through it:

1) Stay in a color family.  I’m pretty sure you should do this whether you’re a noob or not, but it’s easier to get away with wearing polka-dots and plaid if they share colors.  Check out Michelle’s floral & geometric combo, Katie’s stripes & floral look, and Clare’s stripes & polka dots outfit.  Mia even managed to put together a mix of pieces so similar that the overall effect is almost dress-like.

2) Start small.  The reason this outfit came together so easily for me is because I don’t even think of the shirt as having a pattern.  Pick small florals, pinstripes, tiny polka dots, etc, and match them with a bolder print, or stick with another smaller print.  This tutorial will clear everything up nicely.

3) Work with accessories.  I’m not nearly brave enough to try a patterned skirt with a patterned top.  Well, I don’t own any patterned skirts, but if I did, I wouldn’t be brave enough.  Accessories, as with most fashion adventures, are good small places to start: scarves, shoes, scarves, bags, and more scarves.

Or pull a Katie and do three at once and look fabulous.  Or hey, how about throwing some camo in there?

And if you’re really feeling up for a challenge, you can take a look at Everybody Everywear’s pattern-mixing challenge and Suze’s more thorough pattern tutorial  I’ll be here with a teddy bear and a cup of tea if you need it.


5 thoughts on “Pattern Mixing For Pattern-Mixing Phobes

  1. Muy stylish! Good on you for poking your boundaries a little, it really paid off! Which is not to say I don’t enjoy your neutrals in all their glory, but this is a great example of effortless-looking pattern mixing. Plus, the hat really tops it off well. 🙂

  2. Hi Laura–how lovely to be put in as an example, especially when I was completely not sure about that day’s outfit! Pattern mixing is a lot of fun–and it’s made my closet a place of infinite possibilities. Good luck in your adventures–stripes and florals are a great place to start! And topping it all off with a cute hat too!

  3. Pingback: FBFF: One-Time Wears | Ruby Bastille

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