Print Mixing 101

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On Tuesday (LINK) I talked about where to put your prints, arguing that the simplest way to a streamlined closet was to pick just one place for your patterns.

Where’s the fun in that, you say??

Well, if you’re a print lover (or you want to be), this post is for you.

Tips for Mixing Prints (from dipping a toe in to daring)

  • Mix subtle and bold. As mentioned Tuesday, a pinstripe, tiny polkadot, glen paid, very faded/light print, or even a seersucker stripe will read neutral when paired with a larger, bolder print.

A photo posted by LeahLW (@thriftshopchic) on

  • Use texture as a print.  Like the subtle prints mentioned above, lace, tweed, cable knit, etc. all walk the line between full-blown pattern and solid and will help ease you into the world of print mixing.

A photo posted by LeahLW (@thriftshopchic) on

A photo posted by LeahLW (@thriftshopchic) on

 

  • Break it up. Use a wide, solid belt or a color-block top with solid on the bottom and pattern up top to create visual interest without visual overload. My favorite way to do this is with fun shoes on the bottom, a solid pant, and a printed top:

A photo posted by LeahLW (@thriftshopchic) on

 

  • Stay in the same color family. If the main background colors of your prints are pretty close, it’ll read as a variation on a theme instead of competing narratives. Likewise, think about whether your prints are generally the same warmth/coolness* or saturation – layering neons over rich autumnal colors is just gonna make everyone queasy.
    (Check out these two Into Mind posts for an intro to color theory – e.g. what the heck is saturation? – and examples of harmonious color palettes for your wardrobe.)

Ps #printmixing ftw

A photo posted by LeahLW (@thriftshopchic) on

 

  • Mix two different genres. Floral + stripe.  Stripe + animal. Polkadot + tweed.  Monochrome check + bold cartoon colors.

A photo posted by LeahLW (@thriftshopchic) on


Speaking of monochrome…

  • Black & white + color. There’s enough of a contrast between black-and-white and colors that our eyes tend to read them as background + foreground (or vice versa).  For your colors, stick to bold and bright, more saturated hues if you don’t want to muddy things up (i.e. navy is probably not a great idea here, nor are super-soft pastels, unless you tone down the black in your monochrome to a correspondingly soft grey).
    I have very little black in my wardrobe so I have no outfit examples to show you, but the graphic at the top of the post is a good illustration of how well this works.

 

 

What are your tips for mixing prints?  Do you love to live on the leopard/zebra/tiger stripe wild side, or are you print-mixing shy?

 

*Apologies to artists everywhere.  Saying more blue/yellow/red instead of warmer/cooler is pretty confusing for us non-artists.

 

Where to Put Your PRINTS

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Have you ever looked at your closet and despaired at the mish-mash of prints that rarely go together in wearable combinations?  Or do you have a gigantic wardrobe with too many pieces because you bought those solid pants to go with that printed top and that solid top to go with that printed skirt, ad infinitum?

The solution is elegantly simple, but it requires a little bit of discipline: Put your prints in ONE PLACE.*

Pick bottoms, for example, and go nuts with printed pants (so fun!) or skirts.  Stay more simple on top and you’ll never worry about patterns clashing.

Or do what I’ve done and keep all your patterns in your shirts, leaving the bottom half solid…and then firmly tell yourself to walk away from all the amazing lobster pants out there.

OR concentrate your prints in your toppers – cardigans, jackets, etc. – and let your tops, dresses, and bottoms take a back seat.  (The reverse with dresses/toppers works, too – if you have a love affair with patterned dresses, go for solid toppers.)

Wherever you put your prints can also be home to solids, of course – solid pants + print top OR solid top – since solids play so nicely together.

And wherever you put your solids can also usually stand subtle pattern, like pinstripes, a tiny polkadot, or a finely textured weave.

Also, feel free to change up where your patterns live between work/casual wardrobes or hot/cold weather wardrobes for a little variety without major wardrobe exponential crises.  See what I did there?

(For example, as mentioned above I’ve given center stage to prints in my tops and let my pants/skirts/dresses/blazers/cardis do the supporting work.  But I’ve just figured out that sticking to my solid winter turtlenecks underneath the toasty patterned toppers I love will keep my eyes from bugging out on print overload.)
If you just can’t resist ALL THE PRINTS, check back Thursday for some ideas on how to successfully mix prints.

 

*I have Janice over at the Vivienne Files to thank for this brilliant concept. She illustrates it beautifully here (scroll down to the 2nd and 3rd templates).  Check this out especially if you are a visual person.

 

Helen Hunt’s Sex Surrogate Wardrobe – Or, How I Realized I Was in Love with Popover Tunics

In her role as sex surrogate Cheryl Cohen Greene in The Sessions*, Helen Hunt doesn’t wear a whole lot of clothes.  But a few of the tops she does wear caught my eye when I watched the movie a few years ago.  Why?  Two words: popover tunics.

To be fair, Ms. Hunt’s film wardrobe was more 1980s-embroidered-kurta (especially the only one I could find a decent picture of, below) than straight up popover tunics.  And we can get into a whole ‘nother discussion about whether white lady Helen Hunt wearing them is cultural appropriation.

Continue reading “Helen Hunt’s Sex Surrogate Wardrobe – Or, How I Realized I Was in Love with Popover Tunics”