January 3, 2013

Style Feature: Pattern Mixing

On a recent trip to visit my family, my father asked me if I would ever wear a stripe shirt with a patterned tie. I most certainly would, in fact I love mixing stripes , check, plaid, houndstooth, and pretty much any other pattern you can name! The trick to not looking like a disaster is to carefully choose which colors and patterns to mix and what pieces to do it with. If you can pull it off, pattern mixing can take your style game to the next level.

1. Plaid and Stripe

This look is really heavy on not only pattern, but also texture. What keeps everything pulled together is the subtlety. The sweater has a lot going on, so it is important not to get too busy with the rest of the outfit. From a distance the shirt looks white and the tie looks navy, but when you get up close the grey stripe on the woven and shadow plaid on the tie really pop. Pair all that with a thin wale cord and you have a statement-making outfit.

Extra Tip : When in doubt, stick with basic colors. Black, navy, white, and grey are always safe bets. It is really hard to look bad mixing any of these colors, no matter what the patterns.

Sweater by Rag & Bone for Neiman Marcus & Target;
Shirt by Uniqlo; Cords by Gant Rugger;
Boots by AllSaints Spitalfields; Tie by Band of Outsiders;
Tie bar by Link Up; Sunglasses by Bulgari

2. Stripe and Check

Bow ties are cool, and striped ties (bow or otherwise) will almost always go well with a checked shirt. The simplicity of the stripe balances out even the busiest check. The blue striping in the blazer helps the shirt and bow tie pop while the pocket square plays off the check of the shirt.

Extra Tip : Bow ties don’t have to be reserved for dressy occasions. Make a statement and tie one up with a pair of jeans.

Extra Tip II : Personally, I don’t like showing shirtfront with a blazer. So if I’m not wearing a necktie, I’ll always wear a vest or sweater. In this look, the black cardigan helps anchor and break up the other patterns and brings it back to the pants and boots.

Jacket by Ted Baker; Shirt by J Crew; Pants by Marc by Marc Jacobs;
Cardigan by Tristan; Boots by John Varvatos; Bow tie by The Men's Store
at Bloomingdales; Pocket square by Giorgio Armani

3. Print and Plaid

A bright plaid shirt can be a tough piece to mix with. A classically patterned tie, like this woven foulard, can help. It’s simple dark background helps make the emblems on the tie stand out from the shirt’s brightness rather than compete with it. A good guideline to follow is the busier the plaid, the simpler the pattern you want to pair with it.

Extra Tip : I really like to anchor a look in one color and take my pop of color from that. In this instance, the red laces bring out the red dots in the tie and the purple in the vest brings out the deeper tones of the blue. The fair isle socks are just plain fun.

Extra Tip II : Foulard is a small, repeating block pattern. It is usually made of geometric shapes and usually printed on silk, but doesn’t have to be. Classic always works.

Jacket and shoes by AllSaints Spitalfields;
Vest by PS Paul Smith; Shirt by Charles Tyrwhitt;
Chinos by Gant Rugger; Tie by Paul Smith;
Pocket square by Psycho Bunny; Belt by Brooks Brothers;
Laces by Allen Edmonds; Socks by J Crew

Pattern mixing can be daunting, as there are dozens of pattern combinations that you could come up with, all with their own unique challenges. Don’t be afraid to experiment and see what you like and feel comfortable wearing. No matter how well a pairing is, the most important thing is that you are confident wearing it. If you have any questions, I’m more than happy to help you find the right patterns.

Stay stylish,
- JJ

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