Mixing prints Adam: "If men have been combining patterns for years—the pinstriped suit, the tattersall shirt, the dotted tie—how hard can it be? Print mixing can be tricky, but done right, it's impressively chic and wardrobe stretching (you can put together old pieces in unexpected ways). You'll be fine as long as you keep your colors in the same family. Begin conservatively, working up to more complex combinations." 

Start here: "I told Carrie Clores, 39, a working mother, that plaid trousers will never live their best life if they hang out only with solid colors (Peter Som sweater and pants)." 

Earrings, Elizabeth Showers. Shoes, GF Ferre.

Mixing prints 2 First: Wake up your menswear with an abstract floral blouse (Peter Som) in the same tones. A wide belt (Motif 56) creates breathing space between patterns. 

Earrings, Genevieve Jones. Shoes, Tory Burch.

Mixing prints 3
Next: Soften your palette with a mélange-knit cardigan (Richard Grand). The accessories (belt, Hobo International; shoes, C'N'C Costume National) remain simple. 

Earrings, Alexa Sidaris for Covet Jewellery. In hand: Shoes, Delman.

Mixing prints 4
Finally: Pile on brights (for advanced practitioners only). The scarf is tonally connected to the other pieces (M Missoni); the yellow bag (Cole Haan) is a calculated risk. 

Shoes, Sergio Rossi.

Mastering the Mix
  1. Different patterns are compatible only when colors are the same (or closely related).

  2. Menswear motifs—plaids, checks, stripes—function almost like solids, so prints often look good with them.

  3. Variations in scale are interesting. A smaller print with a medium one looks fresher than two of equal size.

  4. Patterned accessories are a lower-risk proposition if you're concerned about getting in over your head with bigger pieces.


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