Ask The Mommy Stylist: Mixing Color and Pattern

By Lisa Miller
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Since joining The Mommy Stylist team, I have received several inquiries about how to mix colors and patterns. Often viewed as  daunting and tricky, most women tend to shy away from bold outfits while admiring them on others. Climbing out of the safe-zone and into the realm of color and pattern, even texture, is an achievable goal. All it takes is a little inspiration.

How do designers and stylists come up with their ideas? You’ll be hard-pressed to find even one without an inspiration folder of some kind. Inspiration can come from anywhere. If you see colors, patterns, or textures that you love together, take a picture of them and keep it in your phone so next time you’re out shopping you can refer to it, or, if you find images online, put them on your Pinterest page. In my collection, you’ll find images from style bloggers, retailers, real people’s outfits (ask first), celebrities, interior design, television, nature, my closet, etc.

If you need more concrete rules, take a lesson from art and use the color wheel. Complementary colors are directly across from each other on the color wheel; secondary colors, set of three equally spaced from each other; and split complementary colors, a color plus the two colors on either side of its complement, are combinations that will work well together.

For patterns and textures, I definitely recommend starting with your inspiration images. Putting your own spin on someone else’s idea and adapting it to suit your wardrobe and body shape is one of the easiest ways to pay homage and look great. Another way to get going is to pick a neutral color scheme and layer. Planning on wearing  a black tank under that cardigan? Try a black lace tank instead. How about some faux leather leggings as an alternative to black jeans (just make sure to wear a top that is long enough to cover your rear)? They would be unexpected and will add some personality to the outfit.

The Example:

The collection pictured above, originally created as an option for the How to Wear Patterned Socks post, is a great example of mixing color and pattern. The main colors, blue, yellow, and orange, follow the rules of color theory. Blue and orange are complimentary colors; blue and yellow are secondary colors. The beige cable knit cardigan and suede booties are neutral, easy to add into almost any outfit. The bangle, socks, and tee work together because none of the patterns are too overwhelming and the colors function well together. The neutral colored cardigan is a great way to add texture and pattern to the outfit because, being all one color, it does not distract from the rest. The gold-tone jewelry warms up the ensemble and plays off of the accent colors of yellow and orange.

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4 thoughts on “Ask The Mommy Stylist: Mixing Color and Pattern

    1. Thank you! This really is a hard question for me to answer. Personally, my favorite shades are greys. I find grey very calming and it mixes easily with almost any accent color. I generally tend to dress in neutrals with pops of color. I am a sucker for colorful shoes! I have been challenging myself this past year to explore the challenge of mixing color and pattern in outfits because I love the effect on others.

  1. Missed out on this fabulous fox tee? You can still make this outfit work. While browsing Etsy, I came across an infinity scarf in the same print! You can purchase the scarf from the shop Happy Scarves By Lesya. Follow the link below to see it.

    Best, Lisa Miller

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