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:


The Tailor Game feat. Rich Freshman



Suited & Booted




Let’s Get Chalky feat. DJ McDonald



Pattern-Mixing feat. Alex Yampolsky


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!


Windowpane suit and paisley shirt by Michael Andrews Bespoke. Burgundy micro dot tie by Ralph Lauren. Tie bar vintage. Burnished blood lace-ups by Scarpe di Bianco


Thanks, as always, for reading. Major Updates coming soon!

Yours in style,



Photography  by Alex Crawford.

  • Caboom

    Those last two shots (especially the brown houndstooth/sweater combo) are KILLER!!

  • http://www.levitatestyle.com Levitate Style

    This is a great guide really like all the different examples…really surprised by the last look pulled off very nicely

  • Desmond

    Whoah – you need a volume knob on that paisley shirt. That thing is loud…

  • http://www.anorexicescapades.com/ BougieHippie

    The fit on all these posts are amazing!


  • TO

    The first test shot/outfit is mindblowing. Looks as good as any fashion editorial shot I’ve ever seen and the uniqueness of the pattern/texture mixing is off the charts. That sweater is too real.

  • LarsBrown.

    The ‘suited and booted’ look is the one for me. The texture on the suit is devine and I have quite the penchant for cutaway collars like that one. Have to have a special mention for that cardigan further down though, I’ve been looking for something similar for years but nothing has come about.

  • Kem

    Can you tell me where the tie in the first pic is from?

  • Zane

    Anyone else notice the amazing sword tie clip on the last look?

    • TO

      Yes. Though with all the other funk going on, it’s the last thing I notice, lol.

  • Miguel

    Great article guys, great job Alex on those shots.

  • ChrisD

    that v-neck sweater is incredible.. not everyone’s style but if it i owned it (and it were possibly a crew neck) I would wear it until it was a ball of pill. A quick internet scour turned up nothing though..

  • Sean

    Dan’s first look with the Cardigan up close, maybe too much going on there, very visually jarring. But the final look? That’s some next level ish! Love it, especially with the Scarpe di Bianco’s.

  • cam

    It’s about time to throw socks back on. What advice there? Stay a shade darker than the trousers and solid? Throw in some patterns? I tend to stay solid and Dan, I’ve noticed you never wear much pattern with your socks but have featured guests who do.

    • AdamE

      I say have fun with your socks… I use colour and pattern in mine (as long as it works with the rest of the look), so that when I’m standing it’s hidden, but when I sit, i can sneak some party into the business… (something about keeping some credibility, growing up on PE and Run DMC… always have to fight the power a little bit…).

    • AFH

      How long can a pair of socks really last? Again, it will depend on the individual but you’re probably not going to be passing down to your son it’s fair to say.

      I have a couple of full length pairs for formal dress, otherwise I pretty much stick with the Uniqlos and I think a lot of featured guests on here do too. A Suitable Wardrobe suggests a shade lighter than the trousers. Vaguely matching the trousers lengthens the leg line, but the Brit style is to contrast and I generally think dark red, blue, dark green and dark orange are all pretty versatile, . Dark purple works really well with charcoal.

      I think patterns are all well and good, but there’s a good chance noone will really notice. I know this is a style site, and people should do as they feel, but I just think socks are not quite worth spending a ot of time thinking about. Your mileage may vary though.

      • TO

        I like this bit you wrote. “Cheekily playful”/bold socks have been all the “rage” when it comes to men’s clothes last few years, to the point where a lot (almost all?!– in my experience) of shops stopped selling ‘basic’ colours. I like the dark colour recommendations you put out and I think neutrals (given varying shades/textures) should be the mainstay- for the most part !

    • TO

      Here you are Cam (from the TSBmen perspective):


  • LouCaves

    I look in my closet and want to put different paterns together (like this morning) but then I go safe. This post gives me some guidance.

    Gents, the new studio shots look awesome.

    Thanks, TSB

  • Nick_L

    Paisley Shirt by MAB is one of the hottest things featured here in months and that is saying something.

    • http://www.tsbmen.com/ Westley Dimagiba

      Dan’s been wearing this shirt since early 2013 and has been featured several times…

      • Nick_L

        Thanks for the clarification, Westley. I have been following the site since round the start of the year but must have missed it dot dot dot

  • Robert

    Two things: The Hugo Boss suit is STILL the best suit ever featured on this site. And, Alex has/had serious style, miss that dude. Hope he’s enjoying the new career.

    • TO

      True true, it’s hard to think of a better suit than the OG on this site…

  • Tom

    Hey Dan, that sweater vest screams attention whore!

  • JBells

    Holy shit. The new studio shots are amazing!!!

    • http://tsbmen.com/ Alex Crawford


    • http://www.wellbuiltstyle.com/ WellBuiltStyle

      Agreed, the new studio shots take you guys to another level. Great work!


  • Daniel

    Looking through the examples, it appears that another thing to keep in mind is that the patterns shouldn’t all be loud.

    • tommyjohn_45

      Right, as stated in point 3 – Distribute the weight. Having too many loud patterns often appears obnoxious.