How to wear prints

Aaaah prints! We have a love/hate relationship with them.

They look beautiful in the shop and on magazines photoshoots, but then comes the dreaded question: how the hell am I gonna wear them?

I. How much print?

1. Just a bit

If prints scare you (even the ones featuring cute kittens), start with some printed accessories that will add some fun to any of your outfits.

– Printed shoes

Miu miu shoes

Patterned shoes jeans

– Printed belt

Fashion jackson leopard belt

– Printed shirt (show collar and wrists)

print mix that kind of woman

Found on that kind of woman

– Printed collar

Patterned collar Sandro lookbook

Sandro lookbook

– Printed scarf

Flower printed scarf

African print scarf

Yes I did notice that it is a man: an inspiring one!

– Printed socks

Tatiana Brahma on we heart it patterned socks

2. A statement piece

You own a beautiful printed dress/skirt/jacket/pair of pants: make it the star of your outfit!

Mix it with whatever plain fabrics you feel like.

Just follow my color mixing advices.

– Mix the print with plain neutrals : easy!

Print long skirt Natalie off duty

Natalie off duty

Print pants marcus designinc

White jeans white and blue stripes

– Mix with a matching plain color

– Example 1

Mode majeure print mix wax

Found on Mode Majeure

Here navy blue is complementary to orange and a neighbor color to purple

– Example 2

Patterned pants and complementary color

Green and blue are neighbor colors

– Example 3

mesmemosphotos print mix


The print is black and white which are neutrals. Therefore it’s a good idea to add a red skirt that brightens up the outfit.

You could also pair the print with a color it already contains like Olivia Palermo, matching her top with the yellow flowers of her pants.

3. A lot!

And a lot of prints means that, except if you go for the total look you’ll have to combine them!

II. How to combine prints?

First, remember that the easiest way to wear prints is not to mix them with others 🙂

Which is already very stylish

But if your ambition is to be one day sartorialized (aka be featured in Scott Schuman’s famous blog “The sartorialist), then you can try to wear several prints on one outfit.

1. Think color harmony

If you follow my advices on colors, mixing prints will (almost) be as easy as mixing plain colors.

Indeed, if the colors of the prints combine properly, you got a good print mix, it is as simple as that.

– Mix two prints featuring the same colors

The easiest way to achieve a great look without risking a “faux-pas”

Pattern mix same color late on afternoon

Late afternoon

Black and white printed pants and top = perfect match!

– Mix neutral prints with colored prints

– Example 1

Print mix allthepretty things tumblr

The print of the pants contains black and white (neutrals) the shoes contain gold and… black.

Only one color and two neutrals: you cannot go wrong.

– Example 2

Allthebellsandwhistles print mix


Black and white stripes (= neutral print) + white dotted blue skirt = successful fashion equation

– Example 3

Classic prints mix

A mix of many classics which works just fine.

Why? Black and white stripes (=neutral) + navy blue and red plaid (=two colors) + leopard shoes (made of yellow/brown hues that work just fine with red and navy blue) + jean and natural leather which are neutral fabrics.

– Mix prints that have complementary colors

Pattern mix Derek Lam

Derek Lam

In this catwalk outfit, you notice that dusty green and pink make a stylish mix.

– Mix prints that have neighbor colors

Jenna Lyons print mix

Jenna Lyons

Green and blue match together hence blue and green prints match together as well. It also works because the pants are daring and the shirt is softer. Should she have picked a bright blue top the result would have been too much.

==> Remember that print mixing is not an exact science. The best is to experiment… and show it to friends with a good aesthetic sense for approval. The more eyes, the merrier the look!

Here is an example of a not so successful mix due to a bright blue and white striped top that do not match a somber printed skirt.

2. Play with pattern sizes

– Patterns of different sizes

Create some cool optical effects using patterns of different sizes

– Example 1

Different sizes pattern mix

Here small dots on the top and big dots/flowers on the bottom.

– Example 2

Oroma Elewa pop africana found on refinery 29 same color different sizes pattern mix

Oroma Elewa of pop africana

The very small intermingled prints on the skirt contrast with the wider geometric patterns of the shirt

3. Combine pattern shapes

– Similar patterns

– Example 1

Pattern mix wendy's lookbook

Wendy’s lookbook

This inspiring blogger wears a skirt and a top with similar floral patterns in different colors

– Example 2

Dior stripes play


Seen on Dior’s runway: identical men stripes in different hues combined into an outfit (I want one of those bustier shirt NOW)

– Example 3

Where did you get that floral print mix color harmony

Where did you get that

Those floral prints have similar colors: that’s why they look good.

Those do not: flashy with dusty = bad idea here

– “Clashing” patterns

Clashing patterns can be great but can also lead to “faux-pas”: for experts only!

Pattern mix asos


Flowers and stripes is a classic! Try it and you won’t regret

You could also try Olivia Palermo’s famous flower and leopard combo  but beware, sometimes it does not work. Avoid the summery floral print ad stick with darker ones to pair with leopard.

Attention: style mixes can make a weird result when brought too far : aztek top and cute doted pants have nothing in common

III- What kind of prints for me?

1. Big or small?

Small is always nice, big can make you look bigger

So go for large print whenever you want to emphasize an area (i.e hips, if you think they are too tiny)

And go for smaller prints, or, even better, no prints at all, if you want to downsize an area.

2. Contrasted or even?

Some patterns are made of similar colors and look like they are a texture more than a print. They are therefore easier to mix with other prints. For instance: yellow and orange, pale blue and dark blue, etc.

Very contrasted prints such as african prints that contain a wide range of colors stand out more.

Prefer even prints when you don’t want to increase the volume.

3. Placed or allover?

A placed pattern is a pattern that is not repeated on the whole outfit.

They are much more rare and can sometimes be considered as an adornment more than like a pattern.

Sometimes, they are just like a regular pattern but just not regular, like in the above dress.

Mary Katranzou

Mary Katranzou dress with placed patterns

Allover is the regular repeated pattern you are used to deal with 🙂

No special advices, on this subject, I just wanted to mention it ^^

IV. Conclusion

Love prints for you all from me and from Hedi!

Saint Laurent dress

Cover collage: Hallie Daily and Romantique and rebel

4 Responses to “How to wear prints”
  1. Ren says:

    Loving your blog! I’ve always wondered about wearing prints. I love that there are pictures as well as an explanation of how the outfits work out.

  2. dudu says:

    african prints doing the rounds..great paired with bold solid colors..

    loving the blog

  3. Sarah says:

    Mixing prints is really not a beginners game and should never be done in a hurry. I have virtually never seen it work well I real life. Mary Katranzou thoughisadifferent story…

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