Gone are the days of plain white shirts and black slacks for work—we’re officially giving you the OK to mix things up. If already you’ve graduated into wearing patterns, we applaud you. Are you ready for your next challenge? Try pattern mixing. We’re talking about how to wear two different items with the same pattern (stripes) as well as how to match two or more different patterns together. It’s simpler than you might think, so keep scrolling to see how to do it.
How to mix the same pattern
Casual and Creative
Our favorite pattern to wear on two pieces is stripes—that’s because you can go as intense or as subtle with your combination as you like. For this outfit, we’re doing a little of both. The stripes on the pants are faint but still noticeable, and in contrast, the shirt is much more of an attention-grabber. Notice that the direction of the pattern is different, as well. Mixing a horizontal stripe with a vertical stripe almost makes them feel like two entirely different patterns. As far as formality goes, if your work environment is a little more laid-back, there’s no need for a suit. You can get away with cotton trousers and sneakers.
How to mix two different patterns
Business casual basics
We’ve all struggled with how to wear a patterned shirt and tie, but let us fill you in on the one rule you need to know: small patterns pair best with large patterns, and vice versa. As long as you’re varying the scale, you’re generally good to go. The large windowpane checks on these trousers are open, airy, and very dapper looking in the office, while the tighter houndstooth print is more concentrated. You might think that the two patterns would compete with each other, but their differences in size make them complementary. To tie the whole business-casual look together, stay within the same general color palette and keep things simple with a pair of brown leather shoes, belt, and work bag.
How to mix multiple patterns
If suits are standard in your office, it’s easy for the same combinations to get stale after a while. Freshen up a solid grey or navy outfit with pinstripes, checks, herringbone, or all three! As we mentioned above, combining patterns successfully is all about scale. We’ve stayed true to our advice with a larger pattern on the shirt, while the tie’s pattern is much smaller and more subtle. When choosing a suit, you’re playing by the same rules. Thin, narrow stripes in a similar shade are appropriate and don’t overwhelm the outfit. And while the base of the look is within the same color palette, feel free to branch out into a new color (or even a new pattern) on your accessories.