Lessons in Pattern-Mixing feat. Alex Yampolsky

October 31st, 2012

Being affiliated with Michael Andrews Bespoke for more than five years, first as a client, then a part-time consultant, and now the head of Sales and Business Development, Alex Yampolsky has learned a thing or two about how to wear a suit.

He’s also learned a thing or two about what confuses and frustrates men when it comes to getting suited up. Near the top of that list: mixing patterns in suit/shirt/tie combinations. Stripes with checks? Plaids with paisleys? What’s too much?

Last week we caught up with the sky diving, Ducati driving, all-around adventure enthusiast to see how he pulls it all together and to share some pointers on pattern-mixing.

     1. Color Story

    For the sake of simplicity, we can start by breaking down a suited look into three components: Suit, Shirt and Tie (although other items can have patterns too, such as pocket squares and socks).

    We can also break down all menswear patterns into three simple categories: Stripes, Checks (plaids, windowpanes, etc) and Repeats (dots, symmetrical prints, etc).

    If you’re new to pattern-mixing, it’s easiest to start by following the “2 out of 3 rule”. Meaning two out of three components (suit, shirt or tie) can have a pattern, but one should be solid. Example: solid suit, stripe shirt, pindot tie.

    If you’re a little more advanced and looking to wear three patterns together, it’s easiest to start by wearing one of each of the three types.

    For example, in this look Alex pairs a subtle check suit with bengal stripe shirt and a repeat floral tie.

    By differentiating the patterns on all three items, none of them compete or distract.

    Another useful guideline for creating cohesion among patterns: carry one color throughout each of the pieces.

    For example, each item Alex is wearing has some form of lavender (the subtle line in the suit fabric, the stripe on the shirt, the flowers on the tie, the striped socks, etc).

    This brings the individual pieces together and creates a finished look.

    2. Balance the Scale

    When combining checks with checks, or stripes with stripes, the trick is to balance their scales.

    Pair wide large-scale patterns with tight small-scale patterns to avoid a “blurring” distraction to the eye.

    Alex also introduces a third scale here with the overly spaced stripes on the tie.

    Because these extra-wide stripes do not compete with the width of either of the checks, it works well.

    I love how the star socks (see top photo) introduce yet another pattern when he sits down.

    3. Subtly Bold

    Here’s a great example of using stripes in contrasting scale and prominence.

    The wide red stripe on the suit is subtle while the thin stripe on the shirt is bold and eye-catcing.

    The two together are easy on the eye.

    The tie, pocket square and socks are each red with blue dots. Although somewhat kitschy, this adds personality to the look (which Alex has plenty of).

    4. Monochrome Patterns

    Combining patterns is a great way to bring life to a monochrome outfit.

    Here Alex pairs an oversized glenplaid suit with a gingham shirt and pindot tie, using a solid cardigan to break it up.

    It doesn’t get much cooler than a murdered-out look with a black bike, black helmet, and black gloves.

    Sure, a pretty girl on the back helps too.

    Another case for the single monkstrap, as we touched on here.

    Thanks for reading and special thanks to Alex (and Melissa) for participating!

    Yours in style,

    Dan Trepanier


    Photography by Alex Crawford

    • http://undefined Jeanscuffed

      He reminds me of a younger Ryan Reynolds. I’ve been reading your blog for the past week at work (yes I’m risking it for you guys) and I must say I have never read a bad post. This post especially speaks volumes! Great content!

      • http://tsbmen.com Dan Trepanier

        Thanks! If it’s not quality original content, it’s not worth publishing.

        If your boss catches you, put him on too! :)

        Big things ahead!!

        All the best,

    • Phill W.

      This post is tremendously helpful.

    • Pat

      Just curious as to what the notch width is on look 4? Looks wide but I may be imagining things.


      • http://tsbmen.com Dan Trepanier

        I think the lapels in that look are 3.75″ wide.

        Thx for reading

    • PETER

      He needs to learn how to tie a proper knot on his ties. Loose and no dimples just looks sloppy. Got to pay attention to the small details.

    • Cool Style

      Woah Styleblogger! This pattern-matching post is actually pretty helpful.

      I was wondering if you could check out this site here: http://blog.albertming.com/

      What do you think about it?

    • http://www.byjenniferjefferson.com Jennifer

      Great post,Love the mixtures of the patterns. I have been a fan of your work (blog) for a few months now and I am always telling people to stop by your site. keep up the great work.

    • Sergio

      Every time I come into MAB, Alex is dressed to the tee. It’s hard to say who is the best dressed out of all the men at MAB but he’s always top 1 or 2. I know as Alex as the guy who always has new shirts coming when I’m there so I’m not surprised to see his great collection of shirts!

    • Adyna

      Things are kind of bad here…but it.s always a pleasure to visit the web site. First look is great! Simplicity…

      • TO

        Adyna- I know you are a big fan of the site, I’m just curious what is it about this post that you don’t like?

        • Khalid

          TO: I think she’s referring to her own geographic location (“here”) and the site is letting her escape her situation psychologically for a moment. :)

          • TO

            Ohhh that makes sense. Yeah, I thought the wording was a bit peculiar, but now I see how I mis-interpreted what she was saying. Sorry Adyna! And sorry to hear if things aren’t going well!:( You’re from Romania, right?

    • cam

      I’ve been waiting for this guy to be featured. On another note, hope u guys, ur family and friends are all doing well with the recent events.

      • http://tsbmen.com Dan Trepanier

        Thanks Cam. We’re bouncing back.

    • James

      Great post but IMO I can’t get behind the last shirt/tie combo. You spoke about paying attention to the scale of your patterns, which I love & follow, but the spacing of the dots is too close to that of the gingham.

      • http://tsbmen.com Dan Trepanier

        I see what you’re saying. I think it works, although we could have probably found a better tie for that look.

        Thanks for reading.

    • http://secondhand-dandy.blogspot.com/ Secondhand Dandy

      Pattern mixing, though sometimes hard for begginers, is one of the most enjoyable games man can have in terms of dressing. Some of the looks might be considered too “matchy”, but, in my opinion, they look so put-together as well as dandy, which shares the trait I often try to achieve in my outfits. Summerising, another great post, which might be a source of inspiration for the readers!

    • S. Jackson

      One of the best post ever! Smh…sheesh I need this guy’s closet.

    • @Vidal_nTheVille

      Wow! This definitely rates as one of the illest posts you’ve had in a while, if not ever! I have always been a fan of mixing patterns, and try to do it myself, with some success, but I am not as accomplished as Alex. It can be difficult to find any good advice or examples on the subject since it is so often avoided, or done wrong. Thanks for getting it right!

      Peace & blessings

      • http://tsbmen.com Dan Trepanier

        Thanks brother. Glad you found this helpful!

    • http://www.backdownsouth.com Caroline | Back Down

      This is one of the best looks I’ve ever seen on here – absolutely amazing!!

      • http://tsbmen.com Dan Trepanier

        Which one is your favorite?

    • Cid


      How did you and the TSB crew make out through Sandy? How about MAB, they are lower Manhattan, correct? Nice to see a post, nonetheless. As a frequent traveler to NYC, it is hard to imagine all the devastation. Hope all is well and keep up the great work!

      • http://tsbmen.com Dan Trepanier

        Thanks Sid. My place by the river in the East Village is still without power, heat or cell service. Got hit hard. Taking refuge in Brooklyn at Alex’s place. Trying to stay on track with the TSB content schedule…

    • Rick Lomax

      Why no info on source of the garments! That’s an important feature of TSB posts.

      • Jimi Brady

        Honestly, I’m surprised to see a post at all given the storm. I’m sure the TSB team will update the article in the next couple weeks when the storm has passed.

      • http://tsbmen.com Dan Trepanier

        Is the “Featured” section at the bottom of the last photo not showing on your screen?

        • Joe

          Looks like “Featured” got moved to below the post (above the comments), leaving the left column of the page blank…

          P.S. Great Post
          P.P.S Hope y’all (TSB and rest of New York) get back up and running 100% ASAP!

    • Rick Lomax

      Gazman – doesn’t look good to me. His combinations are excellent, but the cutaway collar is OTT.

      • http://tsbmen.com Dan Trepanier


        • @Vidal_nTheVille

          I don’t agree, but I think ‘OTT’ is text shorthand for ‘over the top’. I personally dig the cutaway collar and have been requesting it on my custom shirts of late. I especially like how it looks with a contrast collar.

          Peace & blessings,

    • http://chinosandcheesecake.blogspot.com Desmond K

      Great post, great tips, great story. I love how you always give thought process behind each look. PS, that is one slick bike.

    • Rob

      Great style!!!! I need a suit like number 4

    • ME

      Number 4 kills it.

      • Gazman

        Nah, number 4 is too try-hard. Looks like an Amway salesman who has just made the top grade and on his way to the ceremony. Red stripes on a suit is inelegant.

    • Ben

      It seems like you guys feature Scarpe di Bianco shoes A LOT on this site. I have to ask, is this because you all like them so much or are you affiliated with or sponsored by them in any way? Just curious. Nice post overall, some great looks in here!

      • Rob

        Yes, I think you need to step up the shoes game, if you want to be sponsored, at least find one with comparable level with MAB suits etc. You can style everything, but bad shoes are bad shoes.

      • http://tsbmen.com Dan Trepanier

        Let’s say a little bit of both :)

        • Ben


          I think you should be open with readers and let us know who is sponsoring your website or specific posts. I understand that you will tend to feature brands/looks that you like, and that sponsorship may sometimes overlap with personal tastes, but it is somewhat dishonest to pretend that they are completely independent. It necessarily changes what you present or how you present your content, and I think readers should have that information available to them, whether or not it affects how their perception of the website.

          • http://tsbmen.com Dan Trepanier

            Hi Ben,

            Thanks for your comment.

            The fact of the matter is, I never feature an item on TSB that I wouldn’t genuinely purchase or wear, regardless of any brand relationship or compensation.

            In the TSB office we spend a great deal of time turning down offers for products because they’re not items we would genuinely recommend. We’ve always been about authenticity, and that will not change.

            Thanks for reading brother.

    • Don Pierre

      Simply Immaculate. Legendary TSBmen Post.
      Style Beyond Fashion

    • Colin

      Very sharp all around!

      How tall is Alex? Model measurements would be a splendid enhancement to the site… as you know, so much of this is about proportion!

      • @Vidal_nTheVille

        I second Colin’s request for some info on the featured gentlemen’s dimensions in each post. Being well above average myself (6’8″ 300+ lbs), what works in different ‘size brackets’ is a daily concern to me. I realize most of the features are sporting custom pieces from M.A.B., so ‘size’ wont be your 40R that you’d see in an o.t.r. suit, but a little info would give readers a better perspective.

        thanks as always,

        • http://tsbmen.com Dan Trepanier

          This is a good idea and I see how it would be helpful. We’ll try to incorporate this going forward, provided featured guests have no qualms with it.

          We’re also working on more body-type-specific content…on our list.


      • Alex

        Hey Colin,

        I’m about 6’2″ and my weight is around 160-165. Hope this helps and thanks for reading.

    • http://www.modasicevamaimult.blogspot.com Emanuel I.

      The look n. 4 is also my favorite.
      Just perfect!

    • Henri

      Number 4 – wow!

    • Gazman

      Wow – probably one of my favourite posts. This bloke truly knows how to wear clothes. Very informative; thanks! One query though; I notice where he wears the super wide spread collars, a lot of his tie – other than the knot – shows; is this ‘stylish’?

      • http://styleln.tumblr.com Jesse

        It is stylish right now thanks to Italian men who prefer wide spread colors, and rarely stray from the four-in-hand. To many Americans, it looks messy, but it is a personal preference… I usually go double four-in-hand when wearing a wide spread, which shows less of the tie blade, but prevents the Wall Street fussiness of a Windsor.

      • http://tsbmen.com Dan Trepanier

        Alex wears the cutaway collar very well, and I like how he mixes between four-in-hand knots and thicker windsors. Keeps it fresh.

        I like seeing a little of the tie under the collar, it’s an unexpected subtle touch.

        Thx for reading.