December 22, 2017 4 min read

Throwing more color into your outfit can be fun, but wearing only solid colors gets old pretty quick. There are only so many combinations of white, gray, black, navy, and khaki you can wear. Maybe you’ve started to add in some patterns like stripes, plaid, or floral, but don’t know where to go for your next inspiration. This is the perfect time to take the next fashion step: pattern mixing.

Pattern mixing seems like that scary realm that only fashion bloggers, celebrities, and models can enter. We’re here to tell you that it’s easier than you think! Take those stripes, plaid and floral patterns you already have in your closet and start mixing! To give you a better idea of where to start, check out these pattern mixing combinations below.

The Patterns

pattern mixing for beginners stripes

For a beginner pattern mixer, stripes are a must! Stripes are the one pattern that everyone has in their closet, and if you don’t, what are you waiting for? Stripes are the starting point of pattern mixing and pair well with pretty much any pattern because they’re basically a neutral. The best part: stripes come in so many varieties! Not only can you switch up the color(s), but the stripe width comes in thin, bold, and everything in-between! We’re picturing a bold floral skirt with a thin striped shirt or even a bold striped skirt paired with tiny gingham checkers.

Mix with: floral, gingham, plaid, polka dots, contrasting stripes, and more complicated patterns for more advanced mixing. Switch between thin and bold stripes depending on the pattern.

pattern mixing for beginners plaid

Plaid is the other pattern that I’m sure you have in your wardrobe. Plaid patterns vary in size, color, and the number of colors, but there are a few simple tricks to pattern mixing with plaid. Try pairing two plaid patterns together, but use opposites! A large, simple plaid looks perfect when paired with a smaller, busier, more colorful plaid. You can’t go wrong with black on black so try pairing with stripes or more plaid in black, white, or grey. Like all pattern mixing, the key to pairing plaids is to mix complementary colors and tones. Try pairing a plaid scarf with a thin striped tee.

Mix with: stripes, more plaid, graphics, gingham, and herringbone.

pattern mixing for beginners gingham checkers

Gingham is the last print that you’re almost sure to have in your closet. Gingham comes in a wide range of prints, from patterns that look more like plaid to prints with tiny checkers. General gingham rule of thumb: If a pattern looks like checker print with even grids, it’s gingham. If it has a lot of extra, uneven lines, it’s plaid. When in doubt about what to pair gingham with, always choose polka dots or floral.

Mix with: floral, plaid, polka dots, and other complex patterns (anchor print).

pattern mixing for beginners polka dots


Polka dots were probably one of your favorites when you were 6 (hello, who didn’t love ladybugs?!). You might think you’ve outgrown them, but we’re here to tell you to try again! Polka dots can be so fun for pattern mixing. One of the more playful combinations is mixing a polka dot print with another contrasting polka dot print, aka, a print with larger or smaller dots. Try a larger polka dot on top and pair with a small polka dot print skirt on the bottom.

Mix with: stripes, floral, graphics, and contrasting size polka dots.

pattern mixing for beginners floral

Floral is one of those trends that just keeps coming back and we’re perfectly okay with that. Whether you’re a bold floral or small print floral kind of girl, you need to be pattern mixing with floral! When in doubt, always pair floral patterns with stripes! There is almost no better beginner pattern mixing than this duo, just imagine a bold floral shirt with a lighter pinstripe pant. Mix and match the scale of both prints to create countless perfect pattern mixed outfits that will have you looking like a fashion blogger.

Mix with: stripes, gingham, polka dots, animal prints, and contrasting floral.

pattern mixing for beginners animal

Animal prints have always been considered a neutral and can be mixed with just about anything! If you’re one to shy away from animal prints in general, start small! Animal prints make for great accessories as shoes, handbags, and neck scarves. Start with leopard and branch out from there!

Mix with: stripes, floral, gingham, herringbone, and other animal prints.

Pattern Mixing Tips & Tricks to Remember

  1. Stay within the same color palette and tones. The thing that makes pattern mixing work is pairing two patterns together with similar colors. Along with that, match tones when pattern mixing. Pair neutrals with neutrals and bold prints with other bold prints, otherwise your bold will overtake your neutral pattern.
  2. If pattern mixing still seems intimidating, start small with your accessories. Pair your pattern with some animal print shoes, a fun patterned purse, or even a belt. Your pattern mixing options are practically limitless when it comes to accessories.
  3. Start small. You don’t have to start with mixing bold, funky patterns! Start with patterns you’re already comfortable with by pairing plaid or floral with stripes. Expand your horizons when you’re comfortable with that or just stick to basic pattern mixing. Wear what makes you feel good and rock those pattern mixing outfits!
  4. Think about scale. Small pattern prints pair well with other prints, especially large, bold prints and colors, but pairing two bold prints together can make your outfit look too busy.
What pattern mixing trends are you excited to try? Which trends are still a little intimidating? Comment below!

Are you ready to start shopping for different patterns? Here are a few of our favorite collections where you'll be able to find everything you need to start pattern mixing!

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Sierra Nelson

Sierra is Bella Ella Boutique’s fashion and lifestyle blogger. Along with fashion, she has a love for succulents, graphic design, and fitness. On the weekends, you can find Sierra playing with dogs, hiking in the mountains, or eating at new places.

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