By Judith Rasband, AICI CIM and Dani Slaugh, Conselle Affiliate
Men often tell us they have difficulty mixing patterns in their shirts and ties. They’re not alone. Where to start and how to mix patterns presents problems for women as well. Mixing the patterns in an outfit can add interest, sophistication and flair, but it’s difficult to do harmoniously. Keep in mind the following guidelines:
1. Start by finding a pattern – plaid, stripe, or print – possibly a shirt, which you really like and feel like you could wear forever as your source of inspiration for the color scheme of the outfit.
2. Select other pieces of the outfit that have one color in common with your original favorite.
3. Select only one strong pattern, then a softer – more subtle – pattern, and finally a fairly neutral pattern or solid color.
We have featured a suit, shirt and tie – above. All three pieces have the same color, blue-gray, in common. The suit has a very narrow pin stripe and the shirt has a small check print. Both of these are less attention getting than the wide striped tie, which is clearly dominant. Putting together a look like this is slightly advanced, you may want to start with a simpler approach.
Pattern mixing for the beginner –
If you’re not sure what you’re doing, you’re smart to start by separating two patterns with a solid color. Try a brown pinstripe suit worn with a light tan shirt and a small polka dot or check tie in brown, beige, and red for a beginner. For a bolder look, opt for a more widely spaced rep-striped tie.
Advance to wearing a solid-colored suit, a patterned shirt and a patterned tie. This works more easily if both patterns are traditional and if one pattern is non-directional – that is, an all-over print. Try wearing a charcoal gray suit, a cinnamon stripe shirt with a rust and gray print tie.
If you really want to make a statement, try wearing a medium check sport coat, with a small check vest, a stripe shirt and a diamond textured tie with solid colored slacks. The look is terrific!
No matter your experience level with mixing patterns, consider our 3 guidelines and don’t be afraid to experiment. Practice makes perfect!