mixing patterns in design and fashion can be intimidating, but when done well it has the power to elevate any room or outfit! while this practice may seem only for bohemian-types, it is actually something that creates visual depth no matter the personal style. from kate spade’s preppy pairings of stripes and polka dots, to vera bradley’s traditional paisley and flower prints, mixing and matching patterns is for everyone! that being said… some do it better than others, so take the time to get wise before heading out to shop.
mix n’ match novice knowledge
pick two different patterns with a common color
why it works: although the two patterns may be wildly different, the eye will instantly pick up the commonality of their shared color, mentally marrying them as part of the same family.
real life example: northwestern girl + lion’s roar
mix n’ match 101
pick one modern and one traditional pattern
why it works: most of the attention will be drawn to the bold, modern print, while the accent pattern works to visually break up the dominant pattern creating a more polished look. (this also works nicely with an organic pattern and a structured / graphic pattern.)
real life example: i am a robot + romeo & juliet
mix n’ match mastery
pair two patterns of different scale
why it works: even without a shared color to give visual cues, the juxtaposition of a large scale pattern against a more detailed print creates a sense of balance and harmony upon viewing.
real life example: jitterbug + rocketman