Mixing and matching patterns, no longer taboo

Checkers. Plaid. Floral. Stripes. Polka dots.

No, I’m not having a stroke. These are patterns and yes, Virginia, they can be mixed in one outfit! Hogwash, you might say, but I tell you, it can be done. With some extra attention and a little bit of fashion help, you can jump head first into the mixing patterns trend.

As I have said before, some of these fashion forward trends may have you thinking you can’t pull them off, but if you put a little effort into it and showcase the confidence I know is hiding inside, you can pull off just about any trend the fashion gods lay out for you.

In my research I have found some really easy rules to follow when trying to mix and match patterns; cut and dry for even the newest fashionista in training.

Rule number one, keep your patterns from the same color family together.

For example, if you’re planning on wearing blue and red plaid pants, keep your floral shirt within a navy based color zone, and add a denim blazer to offset the patterns.

Rule number two and rule number one are in the same categories; match together complementary tones from the color wheel. The color wheel in the fashion world shows you what hues and tones of colors actually mix well together and bring out even more beauty when specific colors are paired with one another.

You actually can look up complementary colors at and focus on the ‘formulas for color harmony’ section. If you’ve ever looked at two or three colors before and thought “hey, those colors go really well together,” then you definitely are on the right track for using colors to help you mix patterns smoothly.

Rule number three suggests combining your patterns in different scales and density. All that means is to keep one of the patterns smaller, while the other is larger and more dominant. Such as, if you wanted to wear checkers and polka dots together (yes, you can do that), keep the checkers bold and big, and try to have tiny polka dots in order not to overwhelm either pattern.

Rule number four is simply a reminder that your entire body can be used to house your patterns and keep them spaced out. Wear a polka dot headband with a floral dress, or throw on some plaid heels with a polka dot blouse.

The main thing to remember is you don’t have to keep them piled up on top of each other for it to work.

Sometimes, the best way for patterns to look good is to have them layered out so you don’t feel dizzy looking in a mirror.

And rule number five should be an easy one to grasp; use your neutrals and solids to break up your patterns.

Blazers or cardigans are great solutions to break up the patterns. You also can incorporate scarves to help separate your mixing and matching.

I’ve also found some fashion forward thinkers who tell you exactly what to match together. For instance, stripes with floral is suggested as an effortless pairing to try. The great thing about stripes is the fact that they are multi-functional and work with virtually all other patterns, so putting them together with floral, which is a little harder to pair, should help you out.

Another duo suggestion is graphic patterns and animal prints. Graphic patterns serve very well as a type of blending agent, so it should make the visual transition from one pattern to the next more enjoyable to the eye.

If this seems too drastic for you, as I mentioned in the rules, you always can separate your patterns and use enough space between them so you don’t hypothetically choke; combine an animal print skirt with a neutral top and a graphic pattern scarf to keep your outfit on the fashion edge.

Another bit of advice I can give you is to start small. Don’t forget about your closet; most women will find a printed blouse or a patterned dress in there already (bonus, you won’t need to go buy something to try out the trend).

Try to follow the rules and see what you can put together from things you already own. This way, if you feel you don’t like what you see, you have two options: abort the mission or go out and buy something you DO like.

For example, grab that floral blouse you love and put a bold, striped scarf with it to jump start yourself into the trend.

Another good example of using smaller prints with larger, more bold ones is to combine a small polka dot pant with a strong patterned top. TJMaxx has some great items right now to help you out in your search. They have a bright, large patterned blouse from Vince Camuto for $35, that will pair famously with a small polka dot print pant from Ellen Tracy at $25. I love the combination of the big pattern with the small polka dot; it gives the outfit a lot of depth. One ‘don’t’ for you to abide by is to avoid matching any patterns. We are talking about mixing patterns here, so combining like prints basically defeats the point. You may think the idea is to look in disarray, but there are methods to the mixing madness that actually makes them flow nicely.

The most important part of mixing patterns successfully is your confidence in what you’ve put together. Some people may think you woke up and got dressed in the dark, still drunk from last night. Others may envy you for being confident enough to take that leap into the world of patterns. And still some simply may not like it. No matter what anyone else thinks, as long as you are happy with how you look, that’s the golden ticket. Put your best fashion foot forward, and make sure it doesn’t match your shirt or pants! Mix on, fashionistas.

Morone’s column is published on the third Friday of each month.


Fashion Forward – it’s who I?am

Who is Jackie Morone? Well, I am a 31-year-old woman who lives and breathes fashion. I always have had a classic sense of fashion, falling in love with vintage pieces of my grandmothers’ during childhood visits.

While attending Penn State’s main campus, my love affair with hot fashion and personal style grew leaps and bounds. I saw so many different trends on different types of people, and I realized that ANYONE can be fashion forward while holding on to their own personal style.

Moving back to our little area, I noticed I always was asked where I had gotten my shoes, my clothes, my purses or even how did I learn to do my makeup.

Just because we live in Smalltown, USA doesn’t mean there is a law against practicing today’s current fashion trends or “big city style.”

I hope I can help inspire you to start pushing your own style forward, gaining self confidence and opening your eyes to the fashion world.

You’ll see that even by shopping locally you can be a fashionista without traveling to Paris or breaking your bank. Now, fashion forward we go!

Make sure to check out my Facebook page, Fashion Forward with Jackie Morone, to see matching pictures for the clothing I talk about in my column, as well as extra fashion advice, suggestions and answered fashion questions.