Pattern mixing, wearing two or more patterns together in one outfit, is not everyone’s cup of tea. If you have a creative, bohemian, romantic or arty element to your style, you’ll probably appreciate the effect. If you prefer your outfits to look extra clean and crisp, you’ll probably prefer very subtle forms of pattern mixing, if at all.

It is far more common to pair one print with solids or with false plains (textured solids that give the illusion of a solid when they’re actually made of varying colours of interwoven threads, like tweeds and small check designs). But combining patterns can be fun too and there are ways of achieving a harmonious look.

Here are two guidelines to get you headed in the right direction if you’re new to the world of pattern mixing:

  • Choose  patterns in a similar colour palette: It’s amazing how well the same colours in different patterns can work together, especially if they’re in a similar fabrication. The classic example is mixing black and white jailbird stripes with black and white polka dots.
  • Choose a dominant pattern and a supporting pattern: Dominant patterns can work together, but choosing one dominant pattern and one supporting pattern is a more flop proof approach. That way the patterns aren’t competing for attention. For example, match a bold geometric pattern with a dainty polka dot. Match a bold floral design with a false plain like a micro check/gingham or glen plaid. Match an abstract pattern with a subtle pinstripe. In these examples the dainty polka dot, the glen plaid and the pinstripe are the supporting patterns.

These are the first steps to effective pattern mixing. For advanced techniques and inspiration, check out Audi and Kasmira’s outfits. These stylish ladies successfully mix their patterns in much more daring ways.

For my own style, I like to play with different textures and false plains instead of mixing too many patterns together. I do enjoy combining a pinstripe blazer or a monotone polka dot with just about any other pattern, and today I’m wearing a Burberry scarf with a black and white animal print cardigan. But that’s about as creative as I get in this department. Do you like the effects of pattern mixing? Is this an dressing skill that you would like to learn?