Style Panel: Pattern mixing made easy with 9 foolproof outfit tips!

Style Panel Mixing Prints

Let’s be honest, mixing prints can be a scary and daunting concept for most girls out there. Sticking to a norm of block colours or one simple print in our sartorial choices is a safety net for many of us because we fear that mixing prints will result in a messy eyesore.

Many designers jumped on the bold print bandwagon for Fall 2012, from the delicate floral seen at Dolce & Gabbana to the fun geometric prints at Prada, but it’s a matter of mixing the two together that leaves most of us in a fashion pickle.

This week’s Style Panel has risen to the mixed-print challenge, and our members have come up with many new and comfortable interpretations to try out. An easy go-to print for some of the girls was stripes, as seen on The Style Mogul’s Christina Cravero’s floral and stripe combo and A Fashion Love Affair’s Cara McLeay who accented hers with gingham of the same colour. Also, please give a warm welcome to our newest Style Panel member, I’m a Little’s Alex Nikolajev, who kept her mixed prints classy and subdued by using colourful accessories from the same colour palette on her printed skirt. Leave it the Style Panel to take care of all of our fashion fears.

Question 22: How do you combine two or more prints in one outfit without looking like a mess? Read the answers now! »


Alexandra Nikolajev, I'm a Little: Mixing Prints

Alexandra Nikolajev, 27
Toronto | I’m a Little

When mixing prints, I always use the KISS Method: Keep It Simple with Stripes. By using a minimal stripe to offset a bold print, you can create a unique mixed look, while still keeping it sleek and clean. Once you’ve picked your prints, align accessories by sticking to the same colour palette.

In this look, I’ve taken the coral from my skirt and offset the prints with a bright, bold necklace and handbag. Polished off with basic neutrals, this technique is a safe and fast way to accomplish print mixing in an everyday look.

Danielle Roche, Castor and Pollux: Mixing Prints

Danielle Roche, 20
Toronto | Kastor and Pollux

Mixing patterns can be daunting, however there is a very formulaic method to jumping on this runway bandwagon without looking (too much) like a fool. Start with a garment with a finer/more detailed print and proceed to juxtapose it with a print that is solid/bold. Once you get comfortable with looking like a pseudo-quilt, executing this fun-filled trend will be second nature…promise!

Also, fact: If you’re dressed like a half-garden like I am, standing outdoors whilst basking in the sunlight will make you look like you’re confident with your outfit, even if you aren’t. Trickery is fun!

Danielle’s wearing: Dress worn open, Martin van der Horst x Topshop. Dress layered underneath, Forever 21 dress. Necklace, H&M. Socks, Club Monaco. Shoes, Maison Martin Margiela.

Alex Grant, To Vogue or Bust: Mixing Prints

Alex Grant, 25
Vancouver | To Vogue or Bust

Pattern mixing is definitely a skill that improves with practice: the more you dabble with adding a stripe to a houndstooth or a floral with a polka dot, the better your eye becomes at picking out the unifying factor in prints that will make them work together.  And that’s what good pattern mixing comes down to: picking out the one element (like the neutral tones in the prints of both the sweater and blouse I’m wearing in this look) that will give the combined prints their cohesion. If the colour palette or pattern size complement each other (think a thin stripe with a small polka dot print), you’re good to go. Also look for patterns that echo one another: the linear element of both my blouse and sweater’s prints bring the pairing together. When in doubt, both leopard print and a classic stripe can almost always function as basics!

Alex’s wearing: Bag, Roots. Sweater, H&M. Jeans, Gap. Blouse, Club Monaco. Necklace, Blackbird. Boots, Timberland.

Marta Tryshak, With Love Gabrielle: Mixing Prints

Marta Tryshak, 24
Toronto | With Love Gabrielle

For me, the thought of wearing one bold print is terrifying, but two—yikes! Nonetheless, it does not mean that I cannot adapt this must-wear trend to suit my individual style, just staying in my comfort zone. When such a challenge arises, I usually turn to accessories, and in this case my accessory of choice is a pair of Tory Burch cherry printed pumps. In combination to a geometrical printed silk blazer, the cherry print was the happy medium of mixing prints.

Marta’s wearing: Blazer, Marc by Marc Jacobs. Camisole, Wilfred. Jeans, 7 For All Mankind. Pumps, Tory Burch. Purse, Kate Spade. Ring, Yves Saint Laurent.

Jen Tam, Her Waise Choice: Mixing Prints

Jen Tam, 23
Vancouver | Her Waise Choice

Pattern mixing can be a daunting trend to try, but I think there are a few ways to do it that make it much more foolproof. A few rules of thumb: mix a bigger print with a smaller, less commanding one. Stay within the same colour family. And my personal favourite (and the easiest, in my opinion): mix pieces of the same print in varying sizes. Leopard, stripes and polka dots are all easy options, but I love doing it with leopard the most. It almost acts like a neutral!

Jen’s wearing: Sweater and shoes, Zara. Pants, J.Crew. Trench, Coach. Necklace, Flashy Era. Bag, Artessorio via boticca.

Alicia Quan, Alicia Fashionista: Mixing Prints

Alicia Quan, 25
Vancouver | Alicia Fashionista

It can be tough to decide where to start when mixing prints. There are so many combinations of stripes, polka dots, florals, animal prints, bold patterns and in so many different colours! I find the best place to start, is with two prints that are in a similar colour story. That way, there’s some sort of consistency throughout the entire outfit—much like in this particular look, in which I’ve mixed black white polka dots with a black, white, green and blue floral print cardigan. I paired these pieces with all black, just to show you how simple it can be to stay within that same colour story.  If I’d been feeling even more adventurous and wanting to add a third print, I would have added a leopard print belt.  Happy mixing!

Kristin MacDonald, Doll Parade: Mixing Prints

Kristin MacDonald, 27
Fredericton | Doll Parade

The print mix. On trend for many a season at this point, and really, a wardrobe game changer. Mixing it up allows you to not only look and feel fun, but gives your clothing items a bit of a stretch in wearability. This is a great thing. But like any other super trend, it can go wrong. So very, awfully wrong. Here are my tips for success:

First up. I generally try to keep my prints within the same colour family, choosing a hue direction and sticking to it. Choosing a colour scheme can add an element of continuity to an otherwise all-over-the-place kind of feel. Second, I usually avoid wearing two large or two small patterns at once. For optimal visual pleasure, patterns should vary in size i.e. mix a small stripe with a large, a big floral with a small, and so on and so forth. Wearing a variation will allow to you avoid looking like, say, Where’s Waldo, and I think that this can be considered good. And last, I usually keep my accessories pretty minimal should I be mixing prints, and, importantly, should the accessories not be the source of my print mixing (i.e. if mixing a printed scarf with a printed blouse). The mixed prints should be the eyes’ main focus, so keep all other shenanigans simple and subtle in order to not overwhelm the eye and you’ll be ready, set, go.

Christina Cravero, The Style Mogul: Mixing Prints

Christina Cravero, 27
Toronto | The Style Mogul

I have been told that I am a pattern-mixing queen, yet at the beginning I was very hesitant to try this trend. The easiest pattern to mix is stripes as its become a neutral pattern. It pairs very well with any other similarly popular pattern, especially floral or leopard. This is a must try trend and don’t be afraid, it will always look classy, sophisticated and fun!

Christina’s wearing: Blazer, Lulus. T-shirt and ring, H&M. Jeans, MOTHER. Bag, DKNY. Shoes, Steve Madden. Bracelet, Bebe. Necklace, Forever 21. Sunglasses, Pucci.

Cara McLeay, A Fashion Love Affair: Mixing Prints

Cara McLeay, 28
Vancouver | A Fashion Love Affair

Mixing prints can seem overwhelming, but it can actually look quite simple and chic.  I always make sure to have at least one colour that is the same throughout all prints, but otherwise, have fun!

Cara’s wearing: Tank, Stylemint. Skirt, ASOS. Pumps, Shoemint. Necklace, J.Cre. Clutch, Beginning Boutique.