5 rules for Mixing patterns – style

A commonly asked question gets answered today with photos too!!! Check out Salt and Pepper Moms mixing print post and then be sure to pop over to their blog and pin some other great posts they have up right now!

Hi there! My name is Devin and I am excited to be joining you from my blog,Salt and Pepper Moms. I blog with my girl Tara (the “Pepper” half of our duo) about all things mama-related: fashion being one of the topics we love to write about. Moms want to look good too, right?

Today I am talking about the tricky business of pattern mixing. I love to mix patterns in my wardrobe, but it can really be hit or miss and not everything goes well together. Here are 5 rules I like to stick to that can make pattern mixing work for you!Rule #1 – Choose patterns that are in the same color family. This is the most important rule, in my opinion. When you are pulling out clothes and looking at different patterns, this should be the first thing you check. If there are not similar colors in the patterns, chances are they are not going to work well together. I styled a floral pink and mint top with a gray skirt with pink stripes. Because the flowers and stripes are the same pink color and the mint and gray compliment each other, the two strikingly different patterns work well together! You can get away with a lot in pattern mixing, but keeping it “all in the color family” is one rule you won’t want to break.

Rule #2 – Space out your patterns. When getting dressed, your whole body is your canvas, from head to toe. Sometimes the best way to make two busy patterns work together is to spread them out a little bit. Here I paired a red and blue polka dot top with blue and white striped wedges. The basic neutral denim in between the two patterns balances them out so they do not compete with each other or create a chaotic look to the outfit. If all else fails, give your patterns a little room to breathe!

Rule #3 – Beware of too many patterns. When mixing patterns, I like to stick to two. If you throw too many patterns into the mix, you run the risk of having a messy and confusing overall look to your outfit. This pattern pairing happens to be one of my favorites: stripes with florals. For some reason they just go great together, don’t you think? When picking out my shoes and clutch to go with this outfit, I made sure to stick to solid colors. Two patterns: it’s enough.

Rule #4 – Use a “neutral” pattern to compliment a busier pattern. I like to think of animal prints as neutrals. The color tones are usually browns and blacks and I think they make for a great neutral addition to outfits that already have a busy pattern in them. Depending on the colors and print, there are a number of patterns that can work like a neutral. If it’s a pattern in a brown/black/gray/beige and it does not seem too busy to the eye, chances are it will come across as a neutral. Here I am wearing my bird print blouse with a simple black blazer and animal print ankle boots and a belt. It almost doesn’t feel like pattern mixing to me when one of the prints works like a neutral. It’s just effortless!

Rule #5 – Choose patterns of a different size/scale. For instance, you wouldn’t want to pair a giant stripe with a large paisley print. The two large patterns won’t work well together. Similarly, you wouldn’t want to wear a tiny polka dot with a tiny floral print. It will end up looking too busy and strange. Here I paired a large stripe, black and white dress with a small diamond patterned cardigan. Because one print is large and the other small, they pair very well together. You can imagine if the scales were similar it wouldn’t look very good. For colors, similar is better. But for pattern scale, opposites attract.

Okay everyone, you are all set to start pattern mixing! Thank you so much for letting me join you today! For more great “mama stuff” be sure to check out my blog!


  1. This is so great! i have needed help figuring out how to pattern match and have been afraid to try! These basic rules are perfect and will make it so easy! Thank you!

  2. Excellent advice~thanks for inspiring me to come out of my comfort zone!

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