Vintage Fashion: Mixing Stripes and Prints

When our buyers go out hunting for the latest fashions our rule of thumb is always to look for pieces that can be statement pieces.  Of course we always need a few basics on hand, but finding the statement piece is where we try to focus.  Many statement pieces that we have seen recently feature bold patterns or prints and contrasting stripes or prints.  We think this bold mixing of patterns is a recent style trend and of course like many runway fashion trends it can be easy get carried away.

Even as I type those words it seems to immediately make me turn my nose up at the idea of mixing stripes and prints a seemingly obvious fashion no no.  However, if done carefully, this type of contrasting stripes and prints can actually be an interesting way to make a bold statement or create a great statement outfit.   As you know, mixed pattern fashion is certainly not for everyone.  However, consider a few simple rules of thumb when selecting your patterns.

In our opinion, mixing patterns only works when you keep in mind one piece can be bold, but the other piece should be subtle to help balance it out.  Typically, offsetting bold patterns with solids or simple, subtle patterns can be a great way to truly incorporate your own fashion style in a bold way.   The more you can use solid colors as complements the better.   Also, be sure to avoid the cardinal rule of mixing patterns with colors that clash.

We’ve seen styles that work when the top underneath may have a floral pattern for example and the loose flowing cardigan features subtle stripes in a complementary color.   Good designers will often soften the bold patterns with solid accents or trim as a way to add additional detail and soften the look.   Just as mixing lengths for contrast can be a great way to add dimension to your outfit, so too can mixing colors and patterns.  We love to see patterns that keep continuous themes of colors as the bridge between the two patterns.   Even though it might be difficult to imagine this as a viable stylish piece, a blue polka dot pattern would potentially be ok when paired with a blue stripe pattern to bring the same tones of blue into both contrasting patterns.

You may have seen our discussions about stripes in a prior post, but we always love the look of mixing different scale patterns together too.  Stripes are the best illustration, but we have seen several pieces like the Trinity Cowlneck top by Velvet as one example with contrasting size stripes and colors to set the top apart.

Be careful not to overdo it with accessories when mixing patterns and last but not least be true to your own individual style.  Your own confidence can make all the difference when wearing bold fashion statement pieces.  When you are confident in how you look, everyone else will be too.

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Mixed Pattern Fashion

Mixed pattern fashion is certainly not for everyone.  However, if you are feeling like stepping out in a bold way or are looking to make a fashion statement, then consider a few simple rules of thumb when selecting your patterns.  In our opinion, mixing patterns only works when you keep in mind one piece can be bold, but the other piece should be subtle.  Typically, offsetting bold patterns with solids or simple, subtle patterns can be a great way to truly incorporate your own fashion style in a bold way.   The more you can use solid colors as complements the better.   Also, be sure to avoid the cardinal rule of mixing patterns with colors that clash.

One of our favorite lines that incorporate a variety of patterns in elegant, feminine ways is Sweet Pea by Stacy Frati.  She uses lots of bold, bright patterns and offsets or complements them with accenting solid colors for trim or lining underneath.  Consider the Tie Short Dress by Sweet Pea.  This dress features a bold fuscia pink and brown floral pattern.  For contrast, she uses solid brown for the ties at the waist and in the bodice and around the neckline.  The effect of incorporating the contrast is that it helps to add a bit of simplicity to the bold pattern which helps create a more elegant, feminine look.

Consider also branching out into bolder colors and mixing them with non-traditional base colors like navy or brown.  For example, we love the look of brown with navy.  Of course you want the right shades to make it work, but these are colors we would never have thought pair well together, but we fell in love with the Annabelle top by designer AlixK which features a warm clay brown fabric accented with embroidered flowers in navy.  It looks stunning.  We also mix solid navy tops with reds, greens, corals, and greys.

When you’re trying to mix in different patterns with solid colors consider wearing accenting colored tank tops under patterned tops.  As an example, in the winter we wear navy or black long sleeve tops under the Cotton Stripe Tie Cardigan by Splendid.  Similarly, you could also wear a long Kelisha tank top by designer Velvet by Graham and Spencer under the Variegated Stripe Loose Jersey Dress for contrast.

In short, when you are exercising your creative licenses with your wardrobe planning and if you feel like stepping out in a bold patterned look, be sure to offset patterns with solid colors as much as possible.  Be sure to stay within the realm of colors that work together and beware of mixing patterns with colors that clash.  Doubling patterns is not for the faint at heart, so whatever look you create be sure to wear it with confidence and make sure that you do feel confident enough to wear it.  There is nothing worse than wearing an outfit that you feel embarrassed to be seen in once you step out of the house.

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