Mixing patterns in fashion can seem daunting, but when done right, it creates visually striking looks full of personality. The key is learning how to blend patterns skillfully like the pros on the runway. With some guidelines and experimentation, you can master the art of mixing patterns with confidence.

Getting Started with Pattern Mixing

When deciding to mix patterns, opt for no more than 3 at a time. Start with 1 large, bold pattern and mix with 1-2 smaller, more subtle patterns. Keep the patterns cohesive in style and color palette for a cohesive look. Some easy ways to mix patterns:

  • Pair tops and bottoms in contrasting prints, like a floral blouse with polka dot pants
  • Layer a printed jacket over a printed dress
  • Accessorize with a printed bag, scarf or shoes

Stick to a cohesive color story. If patterns have similar or complementary hues, they’ll work together more easily. Black and white patterns always pair well. Scale is also key—varying the size of patterns creates visual interest.

Matching Pattern Styles Seamlessly

When mixing patterns, consistency in mood, theme and era helps. Some chic combinations include:

Florals and Stripes: Timeless and feminine. Opt for similar color schemes and styling. Play with varying scales.

Polka Dots and Houndstooth: High contrast duo with mod 60’s style. Keep patterns bold and layout simple.

Plaids and Checks: Rustic Americana vibe. Layer pieces in same color family for a heritage look.

Ikat and Paisley: Boho chic pairing. Muted versions in cream, grey and blue work well. Keep silhouettes flowy.

Going Beyond Prints

Patterns don’t just mean floral dresses and paisley blouses. When pattern mixing, also consider:

  • Textures: Mix visual textures like lace with leather or silk with tweed.
  • Colors: Create color-blocking with solid colored pieces in complementary hues.
  • Embellishments: Combine intricate beadwork with bold metallic accents.
  • Graphics: Blend logos, icons and typography for an eclectic look.

Key Tips for Seamless Pattern Mixing

  • Limit patterns. Start with one bold print and one subtle print.
  • Scale matters. Vary sizes of patterns for interest.
  • Color connect. Keep a consistent, complementary color palette.
  • Match mood. Pair patterns with similar style or era.
  • Think beyond apparel. Mix textures, colors and embellishments too.
  • When in doubt, keep the rest simple. A simple silhouette in solids allows patterns to pop.

Common Questions About Mixing Patterns

How do you mix and match prints?

Start with one focal print in a bold scale paired with a secondary print in a similar color palette but smaller scale. Keep the rest of the look simple to let the prints shine. Pair prints with solids, simple textures and minimal accessories.

What are the rules for mixing prints?

Some key rules are: limit to 2-3 prints, vary the scale between prints, keep prints in the same color family, balance loud and subtle prints, match the overall mood/style of prints, and keep silhouettes simple.

How do you mix florals and animal print?

Choose floral and animal prints in the same color palette, like black and white leopard with red florals. Opt for an animal print skirt with a floral blouse. Add neutral solids like a black blazer to polish the look. Keep jewelry minimal.

Can you wear stripes and polka dots together?

Yes, stripes and polka dots together create a classic, retro look. Choose same-colored patterns like navy stripes with white polka dots. Varying the scale between the patterns adds visual interest. Keep silhouettes like dresses or tops simple and streamlined.

What goes with houndstooth print?

Houndstooth pairs well with classic patterns like plaid, windowpane checks and herringbone. Solids like black, white, camel and charcoal also complement it. Try a houndstooth skirt with a solid black turtleneck and blazer.

How do you mix boho prints?

For a boho vibe, mix paisley, floral and ikat prints in earthy tones like cream, tan, brown and rust. Choose whimsical floral maxi dresses, paisley kimonos, ikat trousers and woven accessories. Add texture with suede boots and floppy hats.


Pattern mixing may seem tricky, but is easily achievable with some basic guidelines. Start with limited prints that share color schemes and style. Vary the scale between them, keep silhouettes simple and round out with neutral solids. With a small dose of confidence, anyone can blend patterns for head-turning runway style.