Real People: Mixing Patterns

Once again, our friend Peter in San Francisco shows us how to mix patterns easily and successfully using just two rules-of-thumb:

  • Vary the scale and density: Scale refers to how large the pattern is, while density refers to how closely things such as dots and paisleys are set next to each other. However you’re mixing patterns, just be sure to vary the scale and density of your pieces. Otherwise, you risk looking like this guy
  • Cheat: Subtle patterns are the easiest to use. Such as a hairline striped shirt with lines so fine that the color resolves to a solid from more than a couple of feet away. Or the wool tie Peter is wearing in the first photo above, which features a pick-and-pick weave with dusty greens and golds. That’s more of a texture than a print, but the effect of textures is the same: they help add visual interest to what you’re wearing.

Of course these are just general guidelines — things to help you choose what to wear in the morning. In the end, dress according to your eye. If it looks right, then it looks right. And know that if things get too complicated, it’s always easy to wear just two patterns. That’s pretty much failproof.

Real People: Mixing Patterns

Figuring out how to combine patterns can be confusing if you’re just starting to pay attention to how you dress. I can’t count how many times I’ve seen convoluted tutorials on how to wear just a simple shirt and tie. Some kind of check goes with some kind of stripe, but if you have paisley, you must wear some other thing …

Our friend Peter in San Francisco shows how to wear patterns simply and easily under one simple rule: vary the scale. Here, three or four patterns are mixed successfully by just making sure each varies in density. The only exception is the second photo, where the micro-gingham on the checked shirt is in a similar scale as the herringbone on the coat. This can sometimes work when the patterns are small enough so they look solid from afar, but even here you can see the combination needs a double striped tie with a large open ground to keep things from looking dizzying.