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


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.

Origins of the African wax

Ever wondered where the African wax fabric comes from? I like this guest post by Nma Uche (nmauche) as she blogs for Zigida.

I have ordered a few pieces from Zigida myself and will be reviewing as soon as I receive them! Excited 🙂

My favorite is the Village Molekai dress…Gorgeous!



Black and white is such an easy but classic combination and I love a midi paired with over-the-knee boots 🙂



I will provide reviews of some of the garments and accessories available at in the order I receive them. The store is not yet open to the public but feel free to register to be notified when it is ready. In meantime, stay tuned for my reviews here at 🙂

Designer spotlight: Fenix Couture

The BrandFenix Couture


The IT Factor: Bright colors and structured lines with the expected Dutch wax prints

The Inspiration: Per the website, the label is inspired by nature, “which is reinterpreted to render its designs in dramatically romantic prints and imagery. The goal of the Label is to bridge the gap between print wax materials and other materials in the consciousness of the fashion world”


The Designer Behind the Brand: Josephine Akioyamen, Nigerian-born with formal education at Nicky Africana Fashion School in Lagos and at the George Brown College in Toronto Canada

Country of origin: Nigeria – Canada

Notable Awards: None that I could find

Website: Fenix Couture

Where to buy: Fenix Couture Online Shop

Sissi’s Notes: I love the structured looks because they say classy, polish and feminine without being overtly sexy. My favorites above and below. All images courtesy of

fenixcouture_3 fenixcouture_4

Designer of week: Gavin Rajah

The BrandGavin Rajah


All pictures on this post are courtesy of Gavin Rajah

The IT Factor: Eclectic

The Inspiration: Nothing much I could find unfortunately. Lots of lace and form fitting outfits, few sarees as well. Not what you expect from a typical “African” designer and I love it, showcasing richness of cultures within the large continent.

14_MBFWCT_SDR_0202_GavinRajah_w387_h580-bd03abad34 14_MBFWCT_SDR_0223_GavinRajah_w387_h580-153f457f93

The Designer Behind the Brand: Gavin Rajah, nothing more on him apart for his work for UNICEF per wikipedia

Country of origin: South Africa

Notable Awards: None that I could find

Website:Gavin Rajah

Where to buy:Gavin Rajah

Sissi’s Notes: Wish there were more details on this designer 😦 but some of my favorites below.

14_MBFWCT_SDR_0278_GavinRajah_w387_h580-408a350c62 14_MBFWCT_SDR_0249_GavinRajah_w387_h580-45cbedffa8 14_MBFWCT_SDR_0205_GavinRajah_w387_h580-127cb123b4 14_MBFWCT_SDR_0220_GavinRajah_w387_h580-e87559393b