Patterns can be intimidating. It can feel hard to know what goes with what, and what seems loud and over the top versus subtly stylish. This is wear building a capsule wardrobe comes in.
Once you have mastered your foundational wardrobe, you can progress to more advanced concepts like how to wear prints and patterns. Whether you prefer a more bold or subtle look, this is a skill that all women need.
Basic steps to follow
To wear prints and patterns like a pro, focus on the following rules that I teach my female personal styling clients:
#1 Choose your favorite color scheme, but just one (such as black and white).
#2 Find a print that follows that color scheme, such as plaids or pinstripes.
#3 For a bolder look, find an additional print in that same color scheme.
#4 For a more subtle look, pair a print or pattern with a core color.
Remember not to overthink this.
Focusing on color scheme is one of my top tips to wearing prints and patterns.
It can help to have some real life examples to envision yourself following this formula. Check out an example below based on your comfort level with styling your outfits.
Pairing your prints/patterns with a core color is the easiest rule to remember for creating clean, interesting styles in your hectic everyday life.
Choose your print and pattern and then pair it with a core color, such as navy, black, white or gray.
These four colors are the unifying pieces in your closet that ensure you can pair anything with a print without much thought. Regardless of how bold or bright your pattern is, one of these colors will always accompany it well. Ensure you have enough bottoms in your wardrobe in these colors available.
Once you’ve mastered the easiest level, it’s time to try mixing prints and patterns within the core color family.
Shifting away from solid colors to incorporate additional prints can sometimes feel intimidating, but it’s safe to do so when you are choosing from core colors.
Luckily, there’s not really a “right way” to mix prints and patterns, so there’s room for your own style and creative interpretation.
Some people think you need to buy certain prints based on your body type, but this simply isn’t true. Instead, focus on staying within the core color family.
Mixing prints and patterns outside of core colors allows women to make bold statements and to express themselves through their wardrobe. While it’s not necessary for every day, it can be fun to do once in a while.
To use this strategy, choose one color, then pick patterns and prints that feature that color as the primary one.
For example, Blake Lively used this advanced mixing and matching look by using pieces that all integrate black into the designs and patterns, from her shoes to her bag and all of her layers.
Whether she’s using black, or a strong forest green, by following this formula she looks put together and her outfit makes a bold statement. It also works well because the fit is spot on in all of the examples.
A poor fit, even with perfectly coordinated colors, will not result in a stylish look.
Try this out with any color!
Cassandra Sethi is a NYC Personal Stylist and Image Consultant. After working over 15 years in the Fashion Industry, most recently as a Senior Buyer for Equinox, she created her business, Next Level Wardrobe – a luxury personal shopping service for successful professionals. Cassandra’s been featured in Greatist, Livestrong and NY Mag.