How to Mix Prints and Patterns: Your Ultimate Guide


We’re here to give you the scoop on one of the most frequently asked fashion questions. How to mix prints and patterns? Whether you’re looking to break out of your go-to solids, or ready to try something new with your freshest florals, we’ve got you covered. Paris Fashion Week highlighted the importance of finding patterns to bring vibrancy into our lives. Ready for more great news? The best looks don’t stop at just one print or pattern per ensemble. 

Keep reading to learn more about how to expertly pair prints and patterns. 

How to mix prints and patterns in three easy steps 

As the old saying goes, you can never have too much of a good thing. When it comes to how to mix prints and patterns, we couldn’t agree more. Dare to explore everything from petite polka dots to wild animal prints. As a general rule of thumb to mixing prints and patterns, keep your print sizes contrasting. Wear bigger prints paired with smaller ones. Here are a few simple guidelines to master your mixing. 

1. Keep your eye on the size

When mixing things up, pick the print you want to focus on as a starting point. That’s your anchor piece. Let’s say you’re ready to rock statement floral pants. Think of this pattern as the main attraction. It should be the largest and all the other prints—tops, jackets or shoes—should be smaller in size.

2. Stick to the color story

Staying in a singular color palette keeps your outfit looking effortless and intentional. If your anchor piece is warm and bright, reach for complementary patterns in the same color story. Wondering what a color story is? It’s a seasonal collection of colors that complement each other to create a fashion statement. Find the colors that look best on you, then play up your favorite prints.

3. When in doubt, stay neutral

Neutrals are anything but boring. They are a safe bet if this is your first foray into mixing prints and patterns. Wear neutral tones in your anchor piece and flaunt a bold print with it. Black, white, tan and cream are easy to mix and match for an effortless look.

Pairing prints and patterns like a pro

Can you wear different patterns together? Absolutely. We’ve teamed up our favorite attention grabbing prints that pair harmoniously. Here are our best-kept style secrets on how to mix prints and patterns.

Sport stripes with bold florals

Fun, flirty and feminine—no pattern does it quite like florals. They come in many iterations, from watercolor blooms to ditsy florals. Pick this print for a look that is less “couch-cover-chic” and more “romantic whimsy.” Contrast fantastic floral prints with striking stripes. This leading linear print is a staple for a reason. Whether horizontal or vertical, you can create a modern take by switching solids for stripes. Looking to elongate your frame? Style a pair of wide-leg pants in a vertical pinstripe with a top featuring an oversized floral pattern.

Stylist tip: Stand out in a floral printed jacket layered over a simple-striped t-shirt. Add a pair of straight-leg cropped jeans and wrap up your look with a pair of fashion sneakers. These patterns come together organically for a look that is a million miles from being a wallflower.

Explore animal prints with perky polka dots

If animal prints were a person, it could hang out in any crowd—talk about wild. Equally welcome in all looks, from classic to boho and ultra-laid-back, these prints go with everything. One of our favorite ways to style this print? Pepper it into your look with a belt, bag or shoes. Put some prep in your step by combining animal prints with polka dots. This snappy, spotted print creates a go-to preppy look. Keep print size top of mind and combine large dots with subtle animal prints like snakeskin.

Stylist tip: Achieving a preppy look is all about tailoring and structure. Go with a fitted polka dot pullover with your favorite denim. Complete the look with leopard print flats. The end result? An ensemble that is comfy, casual and clean.   

Boho Prints with simple patterns

If your personal style is inspired by the great outdoors and flowy silhouettes, embrace boho prints and patterns. Brilliant boho patterns like watercolors and tie-dye effects, paisley, ikat and vintage florals play effortlessly with simple graphic prints. How do we mix these prints and patterns for a look that is made in the shade? Wear these playful festival pieces with stripes, plaids or polka dots. A small conversation-starting print will emphasize a bold paisley piece.

Stylist tip: Vacation vibes take you away in a pair of palm-print boho shorts. Style them with a classic striped tank top and dip your toes into espadrille sneakers. Layer them with a denim jacket on breezy island days.  

How to mix prints and patterns with your favorite accessories

Experiment with how to mix prints and patterns using a few of your favorite accessories. For a playfully polished look, reach for a floral printed headband. Pair it with a polka dot sweater and knit pants for an impromptu video call. Heading out for a socially distant happy hour? Snakeskin heels elevate your ensemble and pair perfectly with a ruffled plaid blouse. Keeping distance between different patterns is a skillful way to dip your toes into the mixed print trend.  

How to mix up your outfit with printed layers

Caught in the cold? Here’s how to mix prints and patterns with a jacket to keep off the chill. Layer up while working indoors by pairing subtle animal print heels with a poised herringbone blazer. These mixed prints deserve to be the focal point of your look. Opt for a solid dress to keep them as headliners. 

Have a park playdate planned? Wrap yourself in a camo jacket as a badge of honor and layer it over a tie-dye t-shirt with jeans. A pair of classic court sneakers enhance your retro-inspired outfit. Now you are ready to take on your weekend. 

Did these tips answer all of your questions about how to mix prints? If not, Ask A Stylist is here to help coordinate your favorite patterned pieces and offer more mixed print styling advice. Looking to add a mixed print look to your wardrobe? Take your style quiz and schedule a Fix. Don’t forget to ask your stylist for printed pieces to mix and match.

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