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.
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.
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:
2. A print that’s relatively one color mixes well with a really wild, colorful one:
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:
4. Mixing various prints comprised of the same kind of color works too. For instance: all pastels or all metallics.
5. You can pretty much go HAM with your prints, so long as you tidy it up by throwing a plain trench over it:
6. And if you do end up trying to mix prints, it’s best to keep the accessories to a minimum: