Expressing ourselves through clothing is what we as humans do. Even if you only wear sweats and clothes from your favorite value store because well, you have to wear something right? You don't really care as long as you're covered. That's an expression in itself. We can also (sometimes subconsciously) asses others by what they're wearing. Have you ever heard the term "You can tell a lot about a person by their shoes." ? I pretty much agree with this. Analyzing people's dressing choices is a hobby of mine. I like to see how accurate I am about a person based on their decisions in presenting themselves.
People who mix prints are usually more artistically minded and find comfort in standing apart from the crowd. I've always loved mixing prints and my design aesthetic proves that. It's not always an easy task and I've witnessed attempts that have gone all kinds of wrong. (which, in today's standards, fashion faux pas are virtually inconsequential, but I strongly stand by a few that make me ill, like socks with sandals and yes leggings AS pants because, well I don't really care for camel toe so much.) No matter, I always give props to those who take risks and don't follow trends like slaves, as well as those who take advantage of the fact that we have choices and thus, make an effort in their appearance. Some have called me shallow for my ideals on fashion, but I couldn't disagree more. We won't get into all that, let's talk prints!
Ever wonder why this works?
I have learned several things over the years and for those who love the idea of mixing prints, but have no idea where to start and can't understand how some people get it right and some look terrible but can't pinpoint why, here's my humble attempt to assist.
Color: Color is the first and foremost to mixing. For instance, it's not desirable to pair a neon print with a jewel toned print. There are exceptions to this though, (of course!) as with anything visual. If there is a consistent background color like ivory, and if it were to be a neon green with a jewel tone red, this may just work. Red and green are complimentary colors so naturally they look lovely together, especially when hues, tones and tints are used outside of the primary colors, unless you'd prefer to mirror Grandma's Christmas party.
But a random mix of crazy hues isn't as appealing to the eye, even if they have the same background color.
The above is a very straight forward example of mixing prints in a way that works. The matchiness may be slightly superfluous, but it's pretty basic.
Below shows examples of a grounding color that brings the prints together (although I'd take out the identically matched shoes from the far left ensemble) the far right shows a good representation of how complimentary colors can be pleasing too.
This then brings us to complimentary colors. What works and what doesn't?
These pairings are so fun to play around with and if it seems like it looks good to you the wearer, then try it out. Generally if there's a grounding color then it will look polished but still interesting.
Beginner Basics: polka dots are my all time favorite print to mix with, seconded by stripes. The results of these prints blended together with other more ambitious designs can be very attractive and fun. This is a perfect way to start out if you're a little nervous about the idea. One thing you want to be careful with here though is being too matchy-matchy, which can result in mimicking a baby blanket. Black and white goes with everything especially if there's a white or black in the other print(s) to bring it together even more so.
The only thing not to do here is to match a black and white polka dot with a print that has only ivory in it as it's light color. This will tell the eye it doesn't belong together.
So these are the basics of mixing prints and mostly you just have to play around with pairings and see what looks and feels good to you. If you're doing it right you'll be affirmed by mass compliments:)
This is a good example of what not to do, as it's not really mixing anyway and way overly-matchy. Another thing to avoid is incorporating too much of one color in your entire ensemble like accessories, then it can seem too contrived.
Both of these prints have me swooning, but I'd avoid them together because there's no continuity. If all these colors were together in one print it wouldn't be a sin, but as opposite garments they seam slightly skitzo. If the background color on the pants were a navy that would bring it together more peacefully. If there were white or ivory anywhere in both, that would make it better as well.
This is one of my clients, Kate in a dress I designed for her several years ago. She was afraid to add polka dots at first, but I talked her in to it slowly while we were working together. She says this is still her favorite dress! Have anything to add? Post in the comments section below.
If you'd like a custom dress with mixed prints and also fits your gorgeous bod like no other holler at me via e-mail.
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Have a beautiful day Lovlies.