How to Mix Patterns

Rach's buddy Gretta Monahan gives us the scoop on mixing the hottest new prints -- without looking like you got dressed in the dark!
Start Picking Patterns!
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1. Garden Prints: Florals will stick around past spring this year, but this season's versions will be darker (think orange, navy and green) and larger in scale. Pair them with microstripes or other small geometrics.

2. Zigzags: "Missoni's new clothing line for Target is the biggest thing happening in affordable fashion right now," Gretta says. Their signature print is a bold zigzag with lots of bright colors. "Expect to see similar designs everywhere!"

3. Tribal: The latest Native American prints come in strong, saturated jewel tones, like vivid pinks and purples. Rock them on one piece and one accessory max (like Gretta's bracelet), then finish the look with a classic, like a solid blazer.

Make Stripes Your Staple
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There's almost nothing you can't mix with midi or mini stripes! They're a free pass to pile on more patterns and colors. Remember: Verticals elongate and horizontals accentuate.

Tip! Keep bottoms neutral when layering patterns up top -- like Gretta's tank, blazer and bag. Go with jeans, simple skirts and solid shoes.

Let the Larger Print Shine
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Big graphic prints look better when you can see more of their pattern. Wear them on larger or longer pieces, like this untucked tee, and give smaller prints (like this striped miniskirt) less real estate.

Tip! Choose color cousins: Pair pieces that come from the same family (i.e., primaries with primaries, pastels with pastels).

Pair Macro with Micro
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Patterns that work best together tend to be substantially different in scale -- at least two sizes apart. Use mini dots or barely there pinstripes to offset bold, brash prints like zigzags or graffiti.

Tip! Accessorize with texture (like Gretta's grometted belt and chain bracelet) if your outfit already has a lot of pattern and color.

Layer Abstracts Underneath
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Linear patterns, such as plaids, zebra stripes or checks, are outfit anchors: Wear them on outerwear like coats and cardigans to give structure and polish to your look. Limit more whimsical patterns to inner layers like tops and dresses.

Tip! Vary the base color: Two patterns printed on the exact same shade (like if Gretta's coat were also purple) will clash!

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