clothing racj with various clothing in different patterns

When it comes to mastering the art of dressing well, incorporating clashing patterns is often the least considered aspect. The task of creating a harmonious outfit with different prints and patterns can be quite challenging. Consequently, many people (even experienced fashionistas) tend to avoid patterns and prints altogether due to the fear of making mistakes.

But in truth, there are many different ways to make seemingly contrasting combinations work. By finding similarities in the patterns and playing with proportions, it’s possible to create a stunning look out of these unexpected combos. If you want to experiment with your style and come up with refreshing new outfits, wearing patterns that clash is one way to do it. To help you navigate this fashion territory with confidence, here are six invaluable tips to harmoniously blend multiple patterns and leave onlookers in awe.

#1. Wear Clothes That Do the Clashing for You

Now that more creative and daring fashion combinations have become all the rage, you’ll see many individual pieces that feature clashing patterns. If you’re a beginner to this kind of dressing style, these pieces will provide you with a good start.

Try wearing dresses, shirts, top layers, jeans, and leggings featuring contrasting patterns, such as a pair of patchwork jeans or a colorful multi-print caftan. Balance them out with plainer clothing, like a pair of plain black women’s tights for the caftan, and a classic black or white T-shirt with patchwork jeans.

In summary, try featuring one garment with clashing patterns in your ensemble and let it do all the clashing for you. You’ll be surprised at how instantly you can make a simple T-shirt and jeans or dress-and-tights combo look fresh and contemporary.

woman wearing cute outfit featuring clashin patterns
Photo: Dário Gomes

#2. Find a Common Visual Direction in the Patterns You Want to Wear

One reason you may be hesitant to wear pieces with clashing patterns is that your attempt to combine them may look incoherent to others. But the trick here is to trust your eye and look for visual connections in garments that seem to feature clashing patterns.

For example, straight lines will actually complement other patterns that follow the same visual path. If you’re wearing houndstooth, a type of pattern that features four-point shapes that resemble canine incisors, this pattern will actually look good with plain stripes for that very reason. The linear direction of both of these patterns links them up visually. The same logic follows with florals and polka dots; both patterns sport rounded features that make them look good together.

By paying attention to how your eyes naturally follow certain patterns, you’ll find the connecting factor and be able to make stylish pairings. To see this principle in action, try similar combos from your own wardrobe.

#3. Let Color Be Your Guide

Another connecting feature you can use to guide you when matching clashing patterns is the color scheme. Start by picking color tones that complement each other. If you want to put together a vibrant outfit, a bright red-patterned top goes well with emerald-printed bottoms.

Maintaining a consistent color palette throughout your outfit will make it much easier to mix different patterns. For example, pieces in hues of pink, fuchsia, and red are all likely to suit each other regardless of whether there are variations in the patterns among them.

beautiful woman posing on a sofa wearing clashing patterns in clothing

#4. Create a Contrast with Two Extremely Different Patterns

Finding similarities or connecting elements in the patterns you wear isn’t the only way you can rock an intentionally mismatched style. It’s also possible to create stylish outfits by contrasting two very different patterns.

Break up the linear direction of stripes in an interesting way by pairing them with floral garments. And why not try a checkered button-down shirt with a polka-dot skirt? Look for the most adventurous combinations in your existing wardrobe, and see for yourself whether two very different prints will actually look good together.

#5. Experiment with Multiple Patterns

Next, take your clashing pattern game up another level by wearing multiple prints all at once. Wearing multiple patterns isn’t very difficult, but to get the exact effect you want, you may want to plan things out more carefully.

Try mixing one small, one medium, and one large pattern so that the outfit doesn’t appear too overwhelming. This will allow you to create a look that appears to have come together without too much thought. A blouse with small polka dots, a checkered coat, and pants with thick stripes on the side is a great example of the small-medium-large multi-print combo.

You can also wear a striped blouse with a skirt that features large florals. Finish the outfit with a blazer that features houndstooth or puppytooth patterns.

a pair of sneakers in black and white pattern
Photo: Samia Liamani

#6. Incorporate Clashing Footwear or Accessories Into Your Outfits

Lastly, remember that clashing patterns don’t have to feature exclusively on your clothes. You can also experiment with the mismatched effect through your shoes or accessories.

Consider getting polka-dot scarves, animal print belts, paisley socks, and checkered handbags to add some pop to plain outfits. A necklace, rings, and earrings in loud statement prints can also add some texture to your look. Shoes will do a lot to add some interesting visual variety to your ensemble, too—look for opportunities to wear those animal print pumps, checkered slip-ons, or sequined sneakers with an outfit that already features multiple prints.

Let's sum up...

All in all, wearing pieces with clashing patterns is a great way to add freshness and creativity to your personal style. It can be challenging to go out of your fashion comfort zone in the beginning, but with a little more practice, you too will be able to rock the artfully mismatched aesthetics!

Lots of love,

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