One of the best things about fashion is the limitless possibilities it offers when it comes to self-expression. Clothes and accessories come in a variety of designs that allow people to showcase their individuality in creative ways. A primary example of this is patterned or printed clothing, which are wardrobe staples for many of the most discerning fashion designers and dressers.
That being said, you might be hesitant to wear prints for fear that they’ll be visually overwhelming and difficult to match with other wardrobe pieces. However, these are issues that can easily be prevented with a little bit of know-how. By combining printed pieces correctly, you can easily create chic, lively, and sophisticated outfits.
How to Start Incorporating Prints into Your Outfits
You don’t need to commit to an all-print ensemble when you’re first starting out. For example, you can try incorporating smaller patterned pieces into your outfits. Printed accessories and shoes can add some flair without being too bold or conspicuous.
Once you’re more comfortable with wearing prints, try mixing and matching clothes in various patterns. Experiment with different print sizes, shapes, and colors to find appealing combinations. If you need some help in getting started, below are seven basic tips for wearing patterned clothes with style:
Balance Prints with Solid Colors
Balance is an important element in fashion. It ensures that the different characteristics of each clothing piece work together to create a visually pleasing ensemble. Keeping this in mind, it helps to pair your printed pieces with solid-colored ones. This adds some much-needed contrast and creates a more cohesive look. It also prevents patterns from clashing or overpowering each other.
When choosing solid colors, you can’t go wrong with neutral shades. Colors like black, white, gray, navy, beige, and brown pair well with almost everything. For example, you can pair an oversized gingham button-down with black cotton leggings. You can also wear a navy jacket or blazer over a red, striped t-shirt. This way, your outfit can still look fresh and exciting without being too loud.
Familiarize Yourself with Classic Prints
It’s always good to return to the basics, especially when it comes to mixing different prints. There are certain tried-and-tested patterns that every fashionista should have in their closet. These classic prints are not only versatile, but also easy to pair with other patterns:
Stripes go well with almost every kind of print, so much so that they’re often considered to be neutrals in the fashion world. Indeed, mixing striped clothes with other printed pieces is practically foolproof. This makes them particularly great for beginners who are just starting to incorporate patterns into their ensembles. Consider striped tops, bottoms, and dresses as the basic building blocks of your outfits. Try pairing them with bolder prints—like geometric shapes or illustrated animals—for a balanced and modern look.
Polka dots are another classic pattern that should definitely be incorporated into your wardrobe. They’re usually composed of repeating circles or dots of the same size. Clothes with smaller polka dots are neutral and understated, much like striped clothing. On the other hand, clothes with bigger circles or dots tend to be a little more eye-catching. Hence, they make great statement pieces for your ensembles.
Floral patterns are perfect for the spring and summer. They come in all kinds of designs that showcase different flowers, which means that you’ll never run out of options to choose from. Floral prints can also be multi-colored or monochromatic. Their diverse designs make them very versatile and fun to play around with when mixing patterns.
Match Different Prints by Color or Tone
One of the keys to achieving beautiful print combinations is pairing patterns with similar tones or colors. This creates a unified or put-together look, even if the two patterns are distinctly different. You can accomplish this in a number of ways. For instance, you can pair prints based on one shared color. If you have a pair of pants with a white and green flower pattern, you can pair them with a green paisley top.
Alternatively, colors need not be exactly the same. Instead, you can pair prints based on their overall tone. For example, you can pair a black floral top with brown checkered pants. Or you can match a striped, light blue blazer with a pinstriped, powder pink skirt.
Mix Similar Prints in Different Colors
You can also match similar prints in different colors for a coordinated, one-piece look. For example, you can combine a red and white gingham blouse with a pair of blue and white gingham shorts. You can also mix clothes with the same patterns in inverse colors. For instance, a tank top with white stripes on black fabric can be paired with pants that have black stripes on white fabric.
Combine Patterns of Different Sizes or Scales
It helps to mix clothes with patterns on different scales, as it provides more structure and balance to your outfits. This usually involves pairing a small-scale print with a large-scale one. For example, you can wear a sweater with big circular patterns over a long skirt with tiny polka-dots. Or you can pair a red floral dress with a cardigan that has large, thick stripes. Do coordinate the colors of your clothes to ensure that these contrasting patterns look cohesive.
Use Textured Fabrics as Prints
While it might not seem like it, textured fabrics can also be worn as prints. After all, different materials can create interesting patterns or visual effects. Clothing made from leather, tweed, denim, and lace are perfect examples of this. On that note, try pairing patterned pieces with textured ones to create stunning outfit combinations. For instance, you can pair a black leather miniskirt with a herringbone blouse. You can also wear a wool cardigan over an intricate lace top and floral trousers.
Pair Your Prints with Bold Accessories and Footwear
Remember, you’re not limited to clothing pieces when you’re incorporating prints into your outfits. Statement accessories and footwear also play a big role in creating chic outfits that are sure to grab people’s attention.
For example, patterned shoes, bags, and scarves can certainly spice up an outfit. You can complement a black checkered skirt with a white checkered clutch, or pair a pink floral maxi dress with blue floral heels. You can also wear solid-colored belts to break up patterned pieces. For instance, a black belt worn between a striped blouse and a leopard print skirt can create a posh and put-together look.
Feel free to incorporate jewelry into your outfit as well. If your ensemble is already eye-catching, try wearing simpler pieces, like pearl earrings or thin gold necklaces. Likewise, if your prints are quite understated, feel free to add bolder jewelry. For instance, a chunky beaded necklace can be worn with a lace blouse and a red polka dot skirt.
Looking good in patterned clothing is all about balancing, contrasting, and complementing the different design elements in your ensemble. These include the colors, shapes, and print sizes of each garment. While this may take some time and experimentation, you’ll soon find that it’s well worth the effort. By following the tips mentioned above, you’ll be able to wear all kinds of exciting prints with confidence and poise.