Every season, designers roll out a slew of trends that we’re ecstatic to try, and then a series of other looks that have us a bit, well, apprehensive.
While some of us are veteran trend testers who welcome more experimental looks to try, there are others who take a bit longer to warm up to truly daring ensembles. Take for example the print-mixing trend, which has lasted several seasons and has evolved into increasingly jaw-dropping combinations. At first glance, mixing contrasting patterns can be a daunting task — do stripes go with polka dots now? — and a wrong turn can prove, well, pretty frightening.
Fortunately, inspiration abounds: Street style stars have been championing the trend, and designers like Prada, Etro, and Thakoon have been introducing increasingly wearable interpretations of the look, even mixing in textures like jacquard and brocade. So whether you’re interested in graphic print-on-print experimentation, or are merely interested in adding some new textures into a more muted look, there are plenty of options.
Here, we break down three different ways to sport this key look, whether you’re a style maven or are simply trend curious.
Read on to get our simple tips on how to wear prints-on-prints!
Print Pro: You're a style maverick in your own right, pulling off some of the season's more daring trends. This adventurous dresser can go full throttle when it comes to mix-and-matching numerous prints in one outfit.
Be sure to find a constant color in each item you wear to still make the look appear cohesive and not messy. Balance is key when you're wearing bold patterns as well, so keep texture and fabric weight almost equal on the top and bottom (for example, don't wear a lightweight polka dot pair of trousers with a heavy, brocade blazer).
Printed blazers are a wonderful layering option not only for warmth, but to also add in an element of both texture and pattern. Try wearing a subtle printed blazer over a busier patterned blouse for maximum contrast.
Rag & Bone Tapestry 42nd Street Blazer, $595; at Shopbop
Geometric and pixel prints are key this season and provide a modern edge when worn under tapestry-inspired outerwear.
Shirt With Dandizette Wallpaper Print, $61.57; at Asos
Opulence was seen all over the Fall/Winter runways. Use a heavy, jacquard pant to balance an equally heavy patterned blazer or coat to look completely pulled together.
Jacquard Capri Pants, $79.90; at Zara
The overall pattern trend doesn't just stop with clothes! If you want to go full throttle, wear a darker toned, printed shoe to get the full effect and anchor your outfit.
Surrender Bow Platform Shoes, $136; at Topshop
Accessories and bags are another way to infuse a punch of pattern into your outfit. It's also a great way to tie together a color palette.
McQ Alexander McQueen Hummingbird-Print Shell Pack-Away Shopper, $305; at Net-A-Porter
Simply Snazzy: You're comfortable trying your hand at exciting new looks, but want to translate this trend for the office or a first date so you'll turn heads in the right way.
Take a cue from the Pattern Pros and find a consistent color. In this angle, incorporate this common tone into your outfit in not just prints, but also in different applications like colored tights, color-blocked clutches, and neutral accessories. Pick just a couple prints you want to feature (we suggest keeping to one sort of print such as stripes) and use the rest of your outfit to include standard outfit staples such as a black skirt and flats to balance the outfit.
Pick one time of pattern (here, we chose floral), to include in your look. We suggest using a lightweight, less busy print for your top that will offset additional patterns.
Blouse, $29.95; at H&M
In using the same pattern but in darker shades (but using consistent color families), your outfit becomes both sophisticated and trendy.
In Bloom Blazer, $128; at Nasty Gal
Don't be afraid of a little color! Pick one or two colors in the pattern and include these in unexpected ways like legwear, accessories, or bags.
Iridescent Control Top Tights, $10.12; at Hue
Strike a balance by wearing simple separates that will strike harmony with the vibrant patterns you have in other areas of your outfit.
T by Alexander Wang Knitted Cotton-Blend Skirt, $63; at the Outnet
Colorblocking can be your best friend when it comes to mix-and-matching! Again, use one of your favorite colors in the print and find it in this more muted approach.
Harlow Color-Blocked Envelope Clutch, $118; at BCBGMAXAZRIA
A solid colored shoe in a heavier silhouette will help give structure to your outfit as well.
Marshall Leather Flat Shoes, $70.36; at Asos
Notable Novice: You want to dip your toes in the trend pool, but aren't sure where to start or you work in a conservative atmosphere where you can't be all-out but still want to feel cute throughout the day.
Accessories are key in your approach to this sort of outfit. Keep the prints and colors in your clothes to a minimum while playing up different aspects in your bags and shoes.
Opt for a smaller scale print to be layered underneath a sweater, dress, or blazer.
Equipment Cherie Dot Adele Blouse, $238; at Revolve Clothing
Go for the basics! Throw on a pair of your trusty skinny jeans or tailored trousers for a more refined look.
Paige Denim Skyline Skinny Jeans, $158; at Piperlime
Explore different types of your print. Here, this patterned shoe appears slightly polka dot, but organic. It also balances what's peaking through on the top of our outfit.
Senso Britney Pony Hair Ankle Boots, $220; at Urban Outfitters
A trompe l'oeil patterned sweatshirt is a great way to look street style chic without being over the top. It will still translate as a print without the harsh contrast.
French Hen Sweater, $95; at J.Crew
Choose one accessory you want to contrast with the print you're wearing. Here, a striped bag is enough of a juxtaposition against the polka dot to read as trendy but not obnoxious.
Misela Black Mina at Grandbazaar Clutch, $260; at Edition01