+ Tips and Tricks

Mixing Prints, a Tutorial

For many years, I spurned printed clothing and dressed myself exclusively in solid colors.  The florals were to cutesy.  The prints were too garish.  And stripes were for prison inmates and sailors.  Thanks to Miss M’s influence, however, my closet is now full of tasteful printed pieces.

I typically pair solids with my patterned and printed items.  I like the sense of balance and subtle sophistication that the solid/print mix gives.   But one of the hottest trends in fashion right now is to mix printed pieces together to create an unexpected and fashion forward ensemble.  

 Animal Prints with Polka Dots

See By Chloe Zebra Print Skirt (TheOutnet, $104)

Sonia Rykiel Dota Tee (FarFetch, $255)

Stone Wing Stud Earrings (TopShop, $20)

When mixing prints, there are three rules: 1) The prints must be different sizes.  2) Combine loose prints with structured prints.  3) Make sure that one color repeats. (h/t Real Simple)

This first outfit combines a flowy zebra print with a tightly structured dot print (rule #2).  The zebra print is large and bold, while the dot print is smaller and more subdued (rule #1).  And lastly, both pieces incorporate black (rule #3).  Not so tough, right?

Add a fun earring and a chic pair of basic pumps, and you’re all set for work.

Floral Prints and Stripes

Alice Ritter Striped Applique Top (Bloomingdale’s, $158)

Vionnet Floral Print Skirt (MyTheresa, $1,098)

Sparkling Jewel Bangle (Forever21, $7)

This second outfit combines a whimsical floral print skirt with a simple stripe blouse (rule #2).  The skirt’s basic black and white color palette is repeated in the sweater (rule #3), but the pop of purple allows you to mix in a colored bangle bracelet to pull the outfit together.  Also, for this outfit, I chose a thinner stripe to balance out the print (rule #1) because I thought a wider stripe would compete.

While I chose to keep the color palettes and styles simple, these rules apply to all prints big and small.  I just prefer to keep things a bit more subdued.  However, if you’re so inclined feel free to mix and match your florals, stripes, dots, geometric and animal prints at will.  Just make sure to check with a trusted fashion friend before exiting the house.  It’s always good to get a second opinion when trying something new.



  1. E says:

    for $103, I'm dangerously close to buying the Chloe skirt…

    November 8, 2010/Reply
  2. a says:

    that second outfit is gorgeous.

    November 8, 2010/Reply
  3. Espie says:

    awesome outfits and thanks for the tip! I may be more adventurous, even tomorrow

    November 8, 2010/Reply
  4. Melissa says:

    I love your stuff and agree that these outfits are certainly adventurous and fun. But I just have to say I can't see myself walking these halls with such bold mixes (not to mention going to the floor or sitting behind my boss in a hearing – C-SPAN might blow a fuse). Fun thoughts for weekend/evening wear though! Thanks for all your great stuff.

    November 8, 2010/Reply