How to Mix Prints & Not Look Like You’re Batsh*t Crazy!

When I first noticed the mixing of patterns and prints on the Spring 2012 runways I thought it was merely editorial and would never translate to every day real life. Was I wrong! Now that we are experiencing an early spring, everywhere I turn it’s an explosion of color and patterns and frankly, I rather like it. Yet, how does this trend translate to women over 30 who no longer consider themselves slaves to trends, but yet are intrigued? There is a way to make the mixing of prints work for you and you won’t have to worry you look as if you’re trying to recapture your fashion victim youth or appear that you have completely lost your mind!

Here are some how-to tips and 6 case studies we have pulled together to help you:

Case Study 1: Keep the tones the same

Case Study 1:

Designers like Carven, Proenza Schouler and Christopher Kane showed the mixing of patterns by keeping it all in the family. Color family that is. One rule to remember when mixing prints is that there should be ONE color in the same shade that runs through every piece you wear. By donning the look above, this takes the trend to the most basic level and one anyone from 32-52 can pull off. One color.

Top: Matthew Williamson Tattoo printed silk-chiffon top, $575
Pants: J.Crew Café Capri printed woven-cotton pants, $230
Shoes: STRUT Contrast Platform Shoes, $130
Ring: Clean Cats Eye Band, $20
Shades: All Over Metal Sunglasses by Unique, $44

Case Study 2: Use the KISS Method & stick to black & white

Case Study 2:

By sticking with black and white (and in between, grey) you can really play with a bold mix of patterns and not look ridiculous when walking down the street. This suggestion not only keeps it simple, but looks a little more refined. Yes, it may seem a little less risky, but who cares if you look great? This is a perfect example for those who want to stick their big toe in to the trend gently.

Jacket: Vila Blazer in Striped Pique Jersey, $71.62
Top: Jason Wu Printed Jersey Top, $695
Pants: Thakoon Rose Print Pants, $690
Shoes: L.A.M.B. Mid Heel Shoe With Buckle Straps, $304.39

Case Study 3: Stick to one designer & keep the accessories neutral

Case Study 3:

The common thread in this ensemble is the same shade of blue running through the top and skirt. Tip: if trying to match on your own is daunting to you, look to the same designer for both your patterned bottom and top (and/or jacket). Chances are they will be using the same shades elsewhere within their collection. Also consider keeping your bag and shoes a neutral shade like nude.

Skirt: Erdem Floral Pencil Skirt, $850
Top: Erdem Cecilia Silk Crepe de Chine Blouse,$960
Bag: Mulberry Bayswater Textured-leather Bag, $1,250
Shoes: Giuseppe Zanotti Patent-leather Pumps, $550

Case Study 4: Keep one element solid like your top

Case Study 4:

Yes, the common color here is pink, well and green, and the jacket and pants are from different designers. However, think about using one of the main colors in a solid (like the top in this example) and color block. It’s better to try this with one of the bolder colors and not a simple white or black tee. If I had chosen a floral top with this look it would have skewed really young. Personally I would feel uncomfortable. But this look I feel I could pull off.

Pants: Elizabeth and James Floral-print Washed Silk-satin Palazzo Pants, $325
Jacket: Dolce & Gabbana Peony-print Woven Cotton-blend Jacket, $1,745
Top: Warehouse Zip Back T-Shirt, $32.23
Shoes: Giuseppe Zanotti Two-tone Glossed-leather Pumps, $595
Ring: Kenneth Jay Lane 22-karat Gold-plated Resin Ring, $75

Case Study 5: Pick a really bold pattern & pair with a smaller print and colorblock

Case Study 5:

Instead of a floral I chose a bold and striking pattern where the main color elements are yellow and black. Since the print is so large in the skirt, I looked for a smaller floral print in the top. Then I found colorblocked sandals that incorporated both the yellow and black and kept the bag a simple and basic black. If you wanted to toss on a jacket, a black one that’s already in your closet would work perfectly.

Skirt: Derek Lam Geometric Print Skirt, $2,290
Top: Anna Sui Printed Silk Crepe de Chine Blouse, $310
Shoes: Jimmy Choo Samos Patent-detailed Leather Sandals, $875
Bag:  Michael Kors Collection Gosford Clutch, $395
Earrings: Phospho Boho Drops, $34

Case Study 6: Chose a dress that does the mixing for you.

Case Study 6:

If you don’t trust your own instincts to properly mix patterns then opt for a dress that does it for you! No thinking required! You will see many designers have already done the pattern and color mixing, so grab one that speaks to you. If there is black in the pattern, you probably already own some items that go with it.

Dress: Gucci Mixed-Print Dress, $1,700
Bag: Miu Miu Hand-painted Watersnake Shoulder Bag, $2,150
Shoes: Christian Louboutin Crystal Message Pump, $1,395
Ring: Yves Saint Laurent Arty Gold-plated Enamel Ring, $250

- Lauren Dimet Waters

Image Layouts: Carol Calacci

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