Wardrobe 101

Pattern Mixing

Who, Why and How!

Happy day, reader dear!

We’ve reached the end of another week! That should mean we are one step closer to finding our way into our new normal and making forward progress instead of feeling stuck. At least I hope that’s where you are. If not, I hope I can provide some welcome distraction and maybe a giggle.

When I consult with a client, we do some digging to find out about their predominant style personalities, their lifestyle needs, and other various and sundry pieces that are key to know before heading into the wardrobe. (Yes, some day I will be able to do that IRL again! I can do virtual, too, but there’s nothing like seeing a client’s face light up when you teach her (or him) how to work magic with what they already own…)

One of the things clients often ask is about is how to mix patterns. If that idea terrifies you, don’t worry, pattern mixing may be out of your style personality’s comfort level. That’s okay! Maybe you are straight line classic. I know a very introverted Classic who would break out in hives if forced to wear two patterns at once! Creative and Dramatic personalities are often more comfortable with pattern mixing. (Boho style, a combination of Creative and Feminine, may LOVE pattern play!)

Today we’ll keep it simple and mix patterns with:


Mixing patterns is an easy way to add fun to your building basics, like these basic jeans and striped shirt outfits. Stripes with white are the easiest pattern to mix; you treat them like a solid of the stripe color! On the left, the floral sneakers and yellow patterned scarf are relaxed and casual. You could imagine red satin floral shoes being dressy, but juxtaposed with the more homespun gingham and polka dots, the look is tied together and playful.

A Monochromatic Look

Monochromatic looks can be gorgeous and slimming, but can also be incredibly dull unless you give the eye some excitement! Pattern is a fabulous way to add interest to your monochromatic look. Monochromatic looks are comprised of one color or shades of a color, like shades of blue, shades of green, or shades of red. Avoid dull single shade looks by giving them interest with pattern. The patterned blouse is all greens, but has far more life than the solid top on the left. Even the varied textures of the handbag create a pattern that catches the eye. If you can’t vary your colors or patterns in a monochromatic look, try to mix up the textures!

An Achromatic Look

Achromatic looks are those comprised of no color. Think black, white, and grey (a mix of black and white). They can be incredibly chic; like head to to white! Or they can be uninteresting. Using achromatic patterns to give the eye a focal point (or points) is a great way to take an achromatic outfit from blah to bam! There’s nothing wrong with the pieces on the left, but together they are lifeless. Add even one of the accessories from the right, and whoosh! Instant focus.

Hopefully I’ve convinced you it might be worth giving pattern mixing a try. Now, here’s a few tips to keep the look intentional and harmonious! (Please be patient! It’s an old FB Live…)

So how about you? Are you comfortable mixing patterns, or does all-that-going-on make you uncomfortable? Did the video help, or muddy the waters further? Please let me know in the comments below! And if you have something you’d like help pattern mixing with, email me a picture of it to info@closetplay.biz. Maybe I could work it into another post! And clear the waters…

Stay safe and sound, sane and stylish!



    My dad and husband are both Air Force veterans. Wearing camo feels disrespectful to the military members and too unladylike to my style personality.

    • Liz K

      I am a Navy veteran; husband is retired Navy. We live in an Army town. Camo is everywhere. I’ve never heard anyone else say wearing camo feels disrespectful! That’s how it feels to me. Wearing that uniform is a privilege to be earned. The rest just doesn’t work for me…

  • Leslie Susan Clingan

    I used to think pattern mixing was taboo and best left to bag ladies. But now I embrace opportunities to wear stripes and polka dots together. I am having a little trouble getting used to viewing camo and animal print as neutrals.

    Great point about men doing pattern mixing all the time. My PC, however, had a favorite Army issue, skinny black tie that he thought worked for every occasion. I finally begged to differ. And introduced him to patterned ties.

    Oh, the striped tee and scarf and the polka/plaid ensembles!! Put together so well. Always enjoy hearing and seeing YOU!!

    • closetplayadmin

      Stripes and polka dots are the easiest to mix and a fabulous place to dip toes into the pattern mix party. I see the logic of animal prints and camo (especially olive) as neutrals, since the colors are predominantly neutral, but treating them that way for mixing can be tricky… In small doses, it’s a cinch, (Like a pair of shoes, belt, or bag.), but larger pieces like tops and bottoms are more of a challenge

      I know that skinny black tie! I used to see it frequently in our Army town. (Now it’s all camo all the time. Yuck.) Which may be why I just can’t get the camo-love… To me, as a military veteran and 20+ years as a military wife, wearing camo feels disrespectful of those who serve. And we aren’t even an Army family. How does PC feel about others wearing it? Thank you for visiting! XO

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