6 Ways You Can Mix Prints Without Looking Insane

There’s a way to do it, and a way not to do it, but no set guidelines. If this sounds confusing it’s because it is — well, sort of. If you’re looking to get spoon-fed rules on how to mix different prints, you can stop looking because you won’t find it. Most of the “rules” are nothing more than instinct. What I can tell you is this: there are, in my opinion, two designers who are and were exceptionally good at mixing prints: mid-’90s Versace Versus and current-day Ostwald Helgason.

Ostwald Helgason RTW Spring 2014 presentation.
Ostwald Helgason RTW Spring 2014 presentation.
Versace Versus 1996 campaign shot by Bruce Weber.
Versace Versus 1996 campaign shot by Bruce Weber.

Other than that, the only further advice I can offer is: try not to copy looks straight from editorials; an outfit that looks painfully loud in person, often comes off as more subdued in photographs. Below, you’ll find some inspiration for mixing prints and the vague guidelines I could glean from them. TC mark

1. If there’s a distinctly cohesive color palette throughout the various prints, you can easily wear two starkly different prints, like the plaid pants and leopard top she’s got going on below:
Hannah Verhees for French Elle, January 2013, shot by Claire Shilland.
Hannah Verhees for French Elle, January 2013, shot by Claire Shilland.
2. A print that’s relatively one color mixes well with a really wild, colorful one:
Lindsey Wixson in "If I Don't Show Up With A Bag Of Tricks, It's Pretty Much - Why Are You Here?" by Matthew Stone for System Spring/Summer 2014
Lindsey Wixson in “If I Don’t Show Up With A Bag Of Tricks, It’s Pretty Much – Why Are You Here?” by Matthew Stone for System Spring/Summer 2014.
3. You can mix prints by their theme too. For example, you’ll notice below that anything mildly sporty looks good with any color Prada leg warmers:
Louise de Chevigny by David Mandelberg for Elle Australia
Louise de Chevigny by David Mandelberg for Elle Australia.
4. Mixing various prints comprised of the same kind of color works too. For instance: all pastels or all metallics.
Karlie Kloss by Kai Z Feng for Vogue Australia, March 2012.
Karlie Kloss by Kai Z Feng for Vogue Australia, March 2012.
5. You can pretty much go HAM with your prints, so long as you tidy it up by throwing a plain trench over it:
Awa Ceesay by Laura Villa Baroncelli and Manuele Geromini for D La Republica #777
Awa Ceesay by Laura Villa Baroncelli and Manuele Geromini for D La Republica #777.
6. And if you do end up trying to mix prints, it’s best to keep the accessories to a minimum:
Hanne Gaby Odiele in JASU's Fall 2013 Campaign.
Hanne Gaby Odiele in JASU’s Fall 2013 Campaign.

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