Style book: How to mix patterns?

I love colors and patterns. After all, the entire African continent is widely known as the Wax continent, where colorful and bold patterns reign supreme. The “African” cotton wax fabric is so intrinsic to fashion in the multi-cultural continent I was born in that people forget its true origins: Indonesia. But I digress…

When I was asked to share my approach to styling the cotton wax through Zigida, I met many women who found the fabrics and my designs very appealing, but struggled to incorporate the bold patterns into their closet. Many reached back to me that, while they were quick to purchase my skirts and dresses, they could not pair them with anything they already own, without looking like clowns or fearing to be labelled with cultural appropriation.

I will leave the topic of “cultural appropriation” to next week’s post on Africa and Fashion. As far as rules and tips on mixing/pairing patterns, I usually follow the three rules below.

Rule #1: “Pair bold patterns with solid colors, in the same color family”.

I would typically pair my printed skirts with a neutral colored blouse or tee (beige, white, black, navy, or a pop of bright color), or a matching solid colored shirt. You can also pair any print with a simple white tee and a solid colored jacket, sweater or vest. Rule #1 is fail proof if you’re just getting started.ebelandi_colormix_2

Below, I pair the Zigida Minda skirt with a simple white tee (I have a houndstooth jacket on my arm…see rule #2) and further down, it’s a simple white blouse and matching shoes.img_6723

ebelandi_colormix_3

You can also use a very soft print, almost solid-like pattern to pair with your bolder patterns once you get more confident, as I’ve done below with another Zigida skirt paired with an old J.Crew sweater.ebelandi_colormix_1

Another combination from this model below (image credits per link).softpatternRule #2: “Pair bold patterns with stripes, animal prints or ‘simple’ houndstooth patterns – in the same color family”.

The idea here is that stripes and animal prints play the role of neutrals. This also applies to very simple houndstooth patterns. I saw this combination on many runway looks during fashion week. Below is how I’ve paired stripes with the Zigida circle midi skirt.ebelandi_colormix_4Another example is what Morethanturquoise has done with her Zigida skirt (image courtesy of linked source):morehtant

Below is an example of Olivia Palermo in a leopard print (shoes) mixed with bold florals (image courtesy of linked source):  

Rule #3: “Stick to a maximum of three different patterns together”.

I read somewhere a while back that any more than three bold patterns is too distracting to the eye and I tend to agree. My favorite pattern mixing blogger, Blair Eadie, does it well here, mixing dots, stripes and animal prints (image courtesy of linked source).

Note – This post is sponsored by Zigida, a market place for modern apparel and accessories inspired by high quality and colorful cotton fabrics.

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