Tutorial: Mixing It Up


From the Left: Equipment Brett Shirt ($250), Dolce & Gabbana Floral Pencil Skirt ($745), H&M Floral Print Cardigan ($35), similar Gap Tank ($13), Reiss Bateau Striped Top ($115), Eva Franco Skirt ($165)

I posted a version of this tutorial in the Fall of 2010.  But it’s always good to revisit a previous lesson when a new season emerges, if that trend is still relevant.  So let’s review, shall we?

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)

Mixing prints is a challenge for most women, and Capitol Hill is definitely a place that skews more to solids than patterns.  (Part of the reason why I showcase so much mixing of color.)   But working this look into your wardrobe can really lift a Triple-A outfit into the major leagues.

For the all floral look, I mixed a very small floral print with a very large print.  You’ll notice that the color palettes are similar to give the look some cohesion.  

This outfit would look best with a cognac colored belt and a simple pearl earring.  When you have so much pattern happening, it’s best not to add much else.  

For the floral and stripe outfit, you’ll notice that we have a huge floral print and a narrow stripe, in keeping with the rules.  You can also see how the black in the belt and the white background on the floral cardi carry into the dark and white stripe on the tank.  (The tank in the photo is $80 and comes from Vince.  The link above takes you to a less expensive Gap version, since $80 is a lot for a tank.)

You could wear this outfit with jeans or with a black pencil skirt or black trousers.  If I were adding accessories, I’d play up the orange and coral hues in the floral pattern.  Maybe a nice orange stone ring or an enamel bangle bracelet.  

For the stripe and polka dot ensemble, I paired a wide, but not too wide, stripe with a tiny dot print.  This is a slight bend in the rules, which would have preferred a wider stripe, but I felt if I went any wider it wouldn’t be professional.  Something about REALLY wide stripes just seems casual to me.

I’d wear the top tucked into the skirt.  I’d also consider a large necklace to break up a bit of the pattern.  You could try to use a color like cobalt or turquoise, but I think pure metal would be less jarring.  

If you have a few printed pieces in your closet, lay them out on the floor and see if you can take advantage of this trend using items you already own.  Just remember to follow the rules.


    leave a comment

  1. KLo says:

    I adore stripes and dots together, but I don't know if I have the guts for two florals together. But I love the look!

    March 28, 2012/Reply
  2. Isabel says:

    A+ Belle! Love these!

    March 28, 2012/Reply
  3. Monica says:

    These are amazing, I'm a total color and pattern phobe, but the stripes and dots are awesome!

    March 28, 2012/Reply
  4. K says:

    The floral outfit is AMAZING!!

    March 28, 2012/Reply
  5. Erica says:

    I love your how-to articles! ­čÖé This is awesome!

    March 28, 2012/Reply
  6. gingerr says:

    I'm OK with stripes and dots but I think you need to be very slim-waisted to wear that particular combination. The skirt has a lot going on at the waist with the bow-thing and the skirt is bold.

    March 28, 2012/Reply
  7. Sarah says:

    Very, very cool! Thanks, Belle!

    March 29, 2012/Reply
  8. ChinaRette says:

    I'd be most likely to wear the second or third set. Something about matching floral+floral intimidates me. I tend to only mix prints in very basic colors, though — navy, black, cream, white, etc.

    March 29, 2012/Reply
  9. AT says:

    I love the stripes and dots! That skirt is amazing.

    March 30, 2012/Reply