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Mar 5, 201411:25 AMPatterned

Mixing Patterns

Mar 5, 2014 - 11:25 AM
Mixing Patterns

It seems fitting that a Patterned entry should pay homage to its namesake.


I’m a big fan of patterns, such a fan that I enjoy throwing on as many as possible at one time. Growing up, there seemed to be the idea that if one element of my outfit featured some intricate design work, the rest of my outfit should balance it out by staying pretty solid and plain. To me, that sounds like I’m just not supposed to wear all of my fun clothes at once. And I don’t like that.


In the winter, one of my go-to patterns is plaid. Whether it’s a larger plaid print or a smaller checked pattern, it often still feels subtle enough for me to wear with another design. Stripes and plaids work well together because they share the common element of lines. It helps tie it all together and create some cohesion to the look. But another option is to go with two patterns that don’t have similarities, such as plaids and polka dots. Sometimes the juxtaposition of different shapes can create a really interesting look. The roundness of polka dots can help soften the rigidity of a window paned design.


An easy way to add some textured print to any outfit is to throw on a patterned scarf. As I examine my ever-growing scarf collection each morning, I look for an option with colors that complement the outfit I’ve thrown on. Other times I get dressed in a reversed method by basing an entire outfit around a scarf – or other accessory – that I’m really feeling that day. And you know the best part of adding patterned scarves to your outfit? If you second-guess your choice throughout the day, you can easily discard the scarf and still be acceptably dressed in public, unlike the days when you think, “Why the hell did I wear this shirt?” There’s no going back on that one. Well, there is, but our culture isn’t the most accepting of it.


To keep my mixed-prints balanced, I like integrating prints in different sizes. If my plaid is larger, a tank with small stripes may do the trick, but if the plaid is more condensed, some larger polka dots may stand out really well.


But again, if you’re looking for someone to tell you, “HEY! Those two bold patterns are just way too much to wear at once,” I’m probably not the person for you to talk style with. My opinion on the matter seems to really go back to my overarching feelings about fashion and style: do what you want and what makes you feel good because self-confidence is key.


And that key sure pairs nicely with every pattern imaginable.

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About This Blog

Designer Yves Saint Laurent once said, “Fashions fade, but style is eternal.” Contributing writer and editor – and co-owner of Harrisburg’s new boutique, Stash – Jen Merrill analyzes the true meaning of style as she explores trends and ideas related to clothing, accessories, home décor and design in this new online column.