The Guide To Mixing And Matching Prints For The Perfect Fashion Equation


For sartorially challenged women such as myself, fashion is like algebra.

Carefully calculating which pieces to "effortlessly" throw together actually takes works. For my fashion cues, I rely heavily on Polyvore and a host of stylish friends.

This is especially true when mixing and matching prints.

Mastering the chemistry between prints just takes a few succinct rules. So for all the unfashionable swans out there, here are a few ways to contrast, scale and pair prints to create a look you can slay in.

No graphing calculator necessary.

Stick to one color palette.


Your first time out? Start with the basics and stick to one color.

Find complimentary hues like varying shades of pink. If you're unsure which colors pair well, use a color wheel.

Stay within the same range of colors and the prints will do the rest for you. Even if the fabrics are different, using the same color family will keep the look cohesive.

Choose one print to dominate and one to scale.


First, pick the pattern you want to make a bold statement with and create a harmonious ensemble around that piece. The simple, striped shirt here works well as an accent design flattering the main print. Whether they're identical or markedly different, the subdued print is just along for the ride.

By now we all know size matters. The same goes for prints as well. For instance, pairing bright, thick stripes with thin, monochrome stripes? Spot on.

Use simple and extreme contrasts.


The simpler and busier the prints you wear, the better.

Pairing an uncomplicated print with something more complex will level up your outfit. Remember to pay close attention to your color scheme so you don't clash worse than Justin Bieber and Orlando Bloom.

Focus on lines and circles.


Stripes and polka dots marry so well together, you've probably paired the two by accident.

No matter if you're attempting a casual look or dressing up for a ball, round and straight lines are a chic mix appropriate for any occasion.

Use the same bold print in contrasting colors.


Here's where you could look more like a novice than an expert.

For a more dramatic look, pick two similar prints in complimentary hues. By mixing two floral prints in a similar pattern, you can create an ensemble that looks as if it was designed together.

Just look at how well it works for the Kardashians.

Colorblock with solids.


Whether with a belt or chambray shirt, break up the prints with solid colors that still complement your outfit's color scheme. Use the solid as a neutral item to inform the color scheme and scale. Tip? Embrace sneakers with prints and patterns.

Trust me, Solange will be so proud.

Invert the colors or change the direction.


If you decide to slip into the exact same colored print for an office meeting, flip-flop the colors to avoid looking too matchy-matchy.