wearing prints 101

I could say that mixing prints is a trend you should look out for, but really mixing prints is never going to be “out.”

If you do it right, it will always be a way to stand out! Finding a favorite print or print combination and rocking it can be a great way to elevate your everyday outfits, as well as escape from the ordinary…most people are afraid of wearing prints!

There’s lots of ways to experiment with prints, but here are three strategies you can use (plus two fail-safes) to start putting together stylish, effortless outfits that will always help you stand out from the crowd!


small 8 pointed star in gold on blue large 8 pointed star in gold on dark blue


strategy #1: same print, different scale

The easiest way to mix prints, and what you’ll see most often in the mall stores, is the same print in different scales.

All the work is done for you! The colors match, and usually the actual print is identical. The only difference is the size. The pieces usually come together, or are at least displayed together in the store.

A no-brainer, for sure. But you also risk looking exactly like everybody else who walked into that same store, and saw that same display.


sunset starburst print sunset skinny stripe print


strategy #2: same color scheme, different prints

I think your best bet is to unify your outfit with a single color or color scheme, and then go wild with the prints. Not only does this strategy produce the most interesting outfits, you don’t have to fight against your urge to match.

There are a lot of colors in the example I’ve used above (just some experimenting I did in Adobe Illustrator with one of my mandala drawings), and this “starburst” print might not be something you think you could pair with any print.

But, here’s a helpful hint to remember when playing with prints (regardless of the number or intensity of the colors involved): stripes go with everything. If your colors coordinate, then you’re guaranteed good to go!


star pattern in gold on blue star pattern in orange on red


strategy #3: same print, different colors

This technique is actually quite common, and I’m sure you have outfits like this without even realizing it. You wouldn’t think twice about wearing a striped blouse with a pinstriped suit, would you? Men do it all the time, after all.

And the summer staple known as madras is just a bunch of different plaids in different colors mixed together.

With this strategy, it’s probably easiest to keep the scale of the prints the same, and the colors those that already play together nicely (above, gold stars on dark blue, and orange stars on dark red).


multi colored floral print black and white stripes


two fail-safes

You know how I feel about fashion “rules” (not a fan), and I don’t like to be too prescriptive in any of my writing about style and color. So I’m going to call these two bits of advice “fail-safes” instead of “rules”…just a little something to fall back on, if you’re ever unsure!

fail safe #1: black and white stripes go with everything.

Truly you cannot go wrong here! Visit my Pinterest board about wearing stripes and you’ll see dozens of examples!

The reason this works is that a black and white anything is pretty much identical to wearing that same thing in solid black or solid white. Just as versatile and practical, but much more interesting!

large purple scallops small purple scallops


fail safe #2: smaller scale is easier to wear.

If wearing prints or mixing prints still makes you queasy, remember that smaller scale prints will always be easier to wear. Try skinny stripes instead of wide, awning-style stripes. Pin dots instead of giant polka dots; tiny flowers instead of huge cabbage roses, et cetera. It’s less of a risk, but with all of the rewards of a more interesting outfit!

I hope you’ll give some of these a try, and of course I’d love to see what you come up with. Join me on Pinterest and we can share inspiration with each other!



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