Do’s and Dont’s of Mismatching

Wearing intentionally mismatched patterns has been a menswear concept for decades and is seeing a resurgence of popularity in the fashion world. How can you pull off wearing separates without looking like a yard-sale scrapper? Well, the truth is, there are rules to follow even when you’re breaking rules. The Henry A. Davidsen team of top men’s image consulting professionals in Philadelphia has put together a mini mismatching handbook of sorts to help you clash with style.

Know Your Separates and Bring Them Together

Wearing separates is more challenging for most men than wearing a suit. A traditional business suit in navy or grey requires relatively little thought; the coat and trousers already match, and you can easily put on a white shirt and black shoes and be ready to go.

Introducing non-matching elements can muddy the waters significantly if you don’t know what you’re doing.

If done right, your Instagram stories will go viral and you’ll get unsolicited compliments left and right. However, if done wrong, you’re at risk of seeming like you tried too hard to find the missing pieces of an outfit, accidentally mismatched your clothing, or (gasp) just don’t know what you’re doing. This is disatrous in terms of projecting a credible, impactful image.

How can it work, then?

The key concepts to remember are color and scale.

Color is a tough concept for a lot of men, but being able to manipulate color when wearing separates is what will lend your looks visual interest. Your best bet for starters is to play with neutrals: picture a navy sportcoat with grey trousers, or perhaps a brown tweed coat with dark denim.

As you get more advanced and add ties, pocket squares, and socks to these combinations, it doesn’t hurt to have a color wheel handy. Also, familiarize yourself with some basic color concepts (primary/secondary/tertiary colors, complementary colors, etc.) and apply those to your outfits.

Lastly, a helpful way to learn about color is to look to your favorite sports teams’ uniforms. The Knicks’ blue-and-orange uniforms work because blue and orange are

Do’s and Dont’s of Mismatching 2 – Henry A. Davidsen

more or less complementary. Consider a blue-and-orange striped tie and an orange square with blue dots to wear with your blue shirt, navy coat, and grey pants.


No matter what patterns you’re wearing, the key is to understand scale. Simply put, “scale” refers to the size of the pattern. Take stripes, for example. Are the stripes thin or thick? Widely spaced or tightly spaced? These types of considerations contribute to a pattern’s scale.

A simple rule of thumb: like patterns should be of varied scale, and unlike patterns should be of similar scale.

If your suit is made up with widely spaced, thick stripes, wear a shirt with a thin, hairline stripe. If your tie has large dots, wear a shirt with large, widely spaced stripes.

One very important thing to remember: don’t mix two patterns that are both small in scale. This can be dizzying to look at and detract more form your look than add to it.

Tying It All Together

It’s spring, which is the perfect season to experiment with colors, patterns, and materials and mix them all up for fun, svelte, and modern looks that showcase your personality and excite the right kind of attention! The image consultants at Henry A. Davidsen, experts in style and bespoke suits in Philadelphia, can help you achieve your ideal look and show you the best ways to clash. Contact us today to learn more.

Ready to schedule a consultation or just have questions? We'd love to help.

Contact Us