On Tuesday 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- 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.)
- Mix two different genres. Floral + stripe. Stripe + animal. Polkadot + tweed. Monochrome check + bold cartoon colors.
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.
Tuesday’s post was an exercise in thinking out loud about my own winter style; I know it’s helpful for some of y’all to read about how another person strategizes about their wardrobe.
But I wanted to do a short reboot with universal tips based on what I learned, because not everyone wants to read my inner style monologue. If you process best via bullet-points and lists instead of story and narration, this post’s for you!
- Thrift off-season. It gives you time to go slowly, consider where your holes are, and wait for the perfect piece.
- Figure out what’s not working. What do you dislike about your current lineup? Is it the texture, the silhouette, the level of formality? The way things go together (or don’t)? Some ideas for getting your juices flowing to diagnose the issue:
- Write about it
- Talk about it with a friend who has an objective and stylish eye and knows you well
- Scroll back through outfit pics to see what worked/didn’t (this is the #1 reason I use Instagram)
- Go thrifting and try on some different styles to see if a new perspective helps
- Figure out what works in a part of your wardrobe you love, then apply it elsewhere.
- Silhouette/cut. What’s the cold-weather equivalent of the silhouettes you love in your warm-weather clothes (or vice versa)?
I’ve nailed down my summer work style – tapered pants and looser tops – so for me this would mean slimmer trousers + slouchy sweaters in winter.
For you maybe it’s loving shorts and a 3/4-sleeve top in summer, so you do a miniskirt over tights/leggings and a blazer with rolled sleeves over a shirt in winter.
- Color scheme. What color scheme makes your heart sing in summer? Find a muted, darker, or bolder version for winter. Or vice versa, lighten up your winter creams into white, navies into sky blue, aubergines into mauves. Keeping it in the same color family also lets you use cross-over pieces in the transition months.
(On the other hand, if you’re sick of one color scheme by the end of the season, it’s also a great time to adopt an entirely different palette.)
- Fabric/texture. If you love natural woolens or tweeds in the winter, try linen or cotton in the summer. Silk, depending on the weight, works well across seasons. If you love you some tencel, modal, or jersey in the summer, find the same fabric but in heavier weights (or just layer what you already have) for winter.
Caroline at Un-Fancy does this whole how-does-my-summer-style-get-winterized-or-vice-versa thing well if you need some visual inspiration. So does Janice at The Vivienne Files – she visually walks you through putting together and accessorizing an outfit for each month of the year, with all the garments sharing the same style philosophy and color palette. Amazing.
Do y’all prefer lists and tips, or narrative and story when it comes to thinking about style?
And what are your tricks for revamping a wardrobe you’re not currently wearing?