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Pattern Mixing 101

The world of fashion is continually evolving and pushing boundaries. It can be a real challenge to stay on top of the latest trends and wear the newest styles with confidence. We don’t recommend filling your entire wardrobe with trend-driven pieces, but when done sparingly and in the context of an otherwise permanently stylish look, a little bit of trendiness can distinguish you from the crowd and elevate others’ perception of you.

The trending style at the moment is one that tests even the most well-dressed individuals: pattern mixing. While it may seem difficult at first, well-mixed patterns will add depth and visual interest to your image. Expertly mixed patterns are also a sign of a man who truly knows how to dress.

What follows is a basic primer on how to mix patterns. Read on and discover that it’s not the insurmountable task you may have thought it was.

Guidelines to Follow

1. Keep It Simple (To Start)

The likes of Fred Astaire and the Duke of Windsor were known for mixing four, even five patterns at a time. They dressed beautifully, but they didn’t start there.

Crawl before you walk, and walk before you run.

Try a striped tie with a striped shirt and solid jacket. Alternatively, try a striped suit, striped tie, and solid shirt. The point is to start by limiting the types of patterns you mix, and keeping them to only two garments in an outfit. Once you’re comfortable with that, you can move on to more complex pattern mixing.

2. When Mixing Like Patterns, Use Different Scales

A tip for wearing similar patterns together is to vary their proportions or scales. For example, when wearing striped trousers with a striped dress shirt, wear trousers with larger, widely-spaced stripes, and wear a shirt with thinner, more tightly-spaced stripes.

The concept holds true for any other pattern. This works because the varying scales relieves the eye and allows the viewer to clearly differentiate between the garments.

3. When Mixing Unlike Patterns, Maintain A Similar Scale

If you branch out and start mixing stripes and dots, or paisley and checks, you’ll want to keep the patterns similar in scale. Because the eye can already differentiate between the patterns, you want similar scales to create harmony and continuity.

An exception to this rule occurs when one of the patterns is very small in scale. Avoid mixing small-scale patterns, whether like or unlike. It’s dizzying to look at.

4. Color Matters

Colors play an essential role in mixed pattern outfits. Be sure to use color palettes that agree with one another, even if they do not necessarily match. For similar patterns especially, pairing a lighter tone with a darker tone can provide the contrast needed to make the outfit work.

For a primer on color theory and which colors look best on you, schedule a consultation.

5. Use A Solid Neutral to Ease Visual Overload

At times, you may find yourself with an outfit that seems to be doing too much. In cases like these, a solid coat, shirt, or accessory can provide relief to the eye and let the patterns breathe. Even solid colored suits from high-end Philadelphia custom tailors like Henry A. Davidsen can serve as the neutral base needed to tame mixed patterns.

Pinstripes Are Back!

There’s been a resurgence of styles from the 80’s and 90’s, and though we do not advise our clients to jump on the everything-oversized bandwagon, we’re happy to see the pinstripe return to the forefront of fashion. While they never truly went away (classic styles never do, after all), we’re seeing them on runways and they’re more prevalent in our fabric books for custom suits as well..

Today, pinstriped suits are a way to stand out from the crowd. Wear a dark navy pinstripe to look smart and classy, but do not go overboard with your accessories! A simple tie bar or pocket square is sufficient to set off your look.

Also, remember the effects of stripes: they elongate the frame. Tall men don’t need any help looking taller and may want to avoid stripes, while short men benefit greatly from vertical lines. Your frame should also dictate the spacing and size of the stripe you choose. Larger men look best in thicker, wider-spaced stripes, whereas thinner men look better in thinner, more narrowly-spaced stripes.

Checkers is Not Just A Board Game

Plaids and geometric shapes are trending very high this year. A staple in the winter, plaid has a warming appearance that is reminiscent of colder weather, but this versatile pattern is appearing in other seasons this year. Blue bases with fuschia accents are very popular this spring, and green continues to be a strong color for custom and made-to-measure menswear.

If you are looking for some variety this spring, consider wearing a short-sleeved checkered shirt with brighter colors to stand out and celebrate the sunshine.

Single-Layer Statement

As the weather warms up, casual and formal attire start to lose layers, which means that the decisions you make are more impactful than in colder seasons. For example, your t-shirt becomes your only shirt, instead of an accent piece under a v-neck sweater. Try some patterned and colorful short-sleeved button-front shirts with solid-color shorts, or flip the top and bottom and explore fun short designs and solid shirts.

There is no better way to infuse some excitement and personality into your look this season than to experiment with patterns and colors. Immerse yourself in the world of new, and you may find that you like what it brings out in you. This list is certainly not exhaustive, and the options are many and sundry.

If you wish to stand out or experience a little variety while still looking dapper and impressive, consider speaking with one of our expert image consultants for new looks and the best bespoke suits in Philadelphia. Give us a call for more details!

In Conclusion

Check out Philadelphia’s best selection of custom dress shirts and select a design you’ll want to show off with a patterned tie or suit. Mixing patterns may take you out of your comfort zone, but by following these guidelines, you can pull off a complex outfit with confidence!

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