A Simple Guide to Pattern-Mixing
October 2nd, 2014
Pattern-mixing can be a little tricky, but not if you follow these three basic guidelines.
1. Mix the Media
You can generally group all menswear patterns into three broad categories: 1) checks/plaids 2) stripes 3) repeat prints (polka dots, paisleys, wild animals, etc). Try pairing one with the other; visually these three pattern styles offset and counterbalance each other.
2. Offset The Scales
Look carefully at the size of the patterns together. They should each be a different scale. In the photo above, for example, the windowpane suit is a large exaggerated pattern, the stripes on the shirt are about 1/4 the scale of the checks on the suit, and the dots on the tie are noticeably tighter still.
3. Distribute the Weight
The three patterns should also be different levels of “boldness” or “loudness”. One pattern should be faint and not very noticeably (the shirt above). One should be more conservative; evident but not overpowering (the tie above). And one should be a little more bold and flashy, within reason (the suit above).
Here are some examples of these basic concepts in action, from the Articles of Style archives:
Once you understand the traditional “rules” and concepts of menswear, you can start to have some fun with them and use them to create more expressive or adventurous looks.
Here’s two examples from our new studio test shots the other day:
This look is not too bold from afar, but gets more and more interesting as you get up close.
Call it micro-pattern-mixing.
Houndstooth flannel suit and diamond print french-cuff shirt by Michael Andrews Bespoke. Cashmere V-Neck sweater by Etro. Linen splash-dot tie Vintage. Custom leather/suede captoe brogues by Allen Emonds.
I wouldn’t recommend this 70s-meets-80s look to everyone, but I think it illustrates my points above.
Don’t forget to have a little fun with your tailored wardrobe!
Thanks, as always, for reading. Major Updates coming soon!
Yours in style,
Photography by Alex Crawford.