How to Mix Prints

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If the thought of mixing colors and prints conjures images of shiny electric-blue spandex leggings, a striped red off-the-shoulder top, and a polka-dot hair band — perhaps set against a background of synthesizer music — fear not. While the ’80s had a fun, fearless take on punk-rock-pop fashion, the post-millennium version incorporates more thought-out elements to make an outfit stand out — in a sleek, modern way.

Here, tips on how to rock this seemingly intimidating trend.

Think of a unified color palette.

When wearing a combination of prints, it pays to revisit grade school art class, or do a quick Google search of the basic color wheel. The goal is to have a unified hue and a solid line from head to toe, no matter what’s silk-screened on the fabric. One easy and straightforward way to do this is to pick a primary shade, and piece together a top and bottom incorporating the color.

Go big and small.

If you’re wearing a bold-print top, balance it out with something finer on the bottom so the two don’t compete for attention. It goes back to creating a line and letting the eye gaze up and down with ease.

Anchor with accessories.

Keep accessories well thought-out. You don’t necessarily have to keep them at a minimum, but try to anchor the prints with solid pieces, ideally in the same hue. For example, a solid wooden cuff over busy florals ties into a leather belt and platform wooden heels. Or, try pewter earrings with muted gray pumps against a black-and-white print ensemble.

Keep makeup subdued.

A sleek, neutral look lets a busier outfit take center stage. Think clean eyebrows, a hint of blush and a touch of lipstick or tinted lip gloss. If you must apply color, pick one feature to highlight. Again, check your color palette. Nautical stripes may call for a vibrant red lip for a thematic pop of color, but the strong lip may clash with a busier floral ensemble. (For the latter, try extra-rosy cheeks and stained berry lips.) A textured combination of black and brocade will pair well with liquid eyeliner, but may be too much for a grunge-inspired combination of plaids.

Personality is key.

Trends come and go, so it’s important to always check in with what your inherent style is, and what looks good on you. While it’s good (and fun!) to experiment with a trend like mixing prints, take into consideration your own fashion plate and palate. If you’re more into solid pieces, start with a printed scarf to pick up on the trend without going all-out. You can also try ballet flats in a textured finish. Ease into it, see if you like it and build up from there.

Photo: Getty Images

A geeky minimalist who has a passion for fashion, food, traveling, social media and all things creative

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