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How to Layer Prints and Patterns

How to Layer Prints and Patterns

Photo by Justin K. Cole

Photo by Justin K. Cole

Lately, I’m leaning a lot more towards an extroverted fashion aesthetic. Bright colors, layers of jewelry instead of just one single piece, non-neutral shoes: It’s all my personal slice of heaven right now. There’s just one thing I haven’t seemed to quite get the hang of yet: mixing prints and patterns.    

The idea—layering checks with leopard print, stripes with polka dots, etc.—can sound overwhelming, but the styling trick is actually easy enough for anyone to play around with: you just have to have the right tips to start with. I asked a pro, Caprice Cole, a “professional pattern mixer” who recently launched her first three pieces in a very fun collaboration collection with AyaWax, for her best pattern-mixing advice. 

START WITH BLACK AND WHITE “If you are just dipping your feet into mixing patterns, my favorite way to start is sticking to black and white prints. One of my favorite combinations, for example, is a black-and-white striped top with my black-and-white polka dot pants. If you’re feeling more adventurous, try leopard and stripes, floral and polka dots or plaid and gingham together.” 

COMPLIMENTARY COLORS ARE A WINNER “Complimentary colors are so fun together, especially in patterns. Again, if you’re a beginner, this is a nice way to test the waters.” 

DO PROPORTIONS MATTER? “It depends. I feel if the combination is speaking to your fashion soul, it’s worth trying it out. I’ve mixed a large floral print with a large geometric print and loved it.” 

HOW MANY PRINTS IS TOO MANY? “Most of my pieces have over 100 different fabrics patch-worked together and they still feel harmonious. Ideally, I try to play with at least 3 different patterns in any given outfit.” 

PATTERN-ON-PATTERN OUTFITS “One hundred percent pattern-on-pattern mixing feels so fun and chic and is another good place to start. Try pairing a small version of a pattern with a larger version of that same pattern—bonus points if they are different colors.” 

IF ALL ELSE FAILS, Experiment. “I’m definitely a wild card. Most of the time I’m not 100 percent sure how my combinations will look: I’ll just grab a top and a bottom and tie it together with a nice solid belt and go for it! Go with your personal comfort. if you take a look in the mirror and it feels like too much it just might be. At that point swap, out one print for another, or even a fun solid color.” 

COLE’S ONLY FASHION NO-NO “Wearing an ensemble that doesn’t feel true to you.” 

STILL FEELING UNSURE? “If pattern mixing feels a little to risky for your personal aesthetic, try color-blocking instead with a pattern pop in your accessories. Wearing a red blouse with orange trousers and a leopard belt or any fun color or pattern combination that feels right for you.”

Boutique I Like: Illustrated Light Gifts

Boutique I Like: Illustrated Light Gifts

Boutique I like: Quo

Boutique I like: Quo