Tuesday, January 13, 2015

How to Mix Prints

    We all grew up hearing,  "Never Mix Prints; it's just too busy."  And I'll admit, it's tricky, but there is one basic rule to keep in mind when you're heading out there:  It's not about the prints; it's about the color palette.  As long as the colors are in the same palette, mixing prints is not only possible, it's quite lovely.

    There are two ways we're going to use a color palette to put an outfit together.  First we'll consider colors of the same intensity and then colors which appear in both prints. 

    Before you head out to the stores and start grabbing prints off the rack, get familiar with the color wheel.  Or, better yet, print out a copy and take it with you when you start putting items together.  Each ring of the color wheel shows you colors of the same intensity with green, blue, and purple being the cool colors and red, orange, and yellow being the warm colors.  Black, white, and beige are considered neutrals.

     Colors that are opposite each other on the wheel are called "complimentary colors," but not because they compliment each other in the sense that we use the term.  What this means is that colors such as orange and blue, yellow and purple, and red and green produce the strongest contrast when paired.  It's better to think of them as opposite colors and avoid pairing them in their pure form, but don't shy away from it when they've been lightened or darkened.  I'll give an example of how to do this in the outfit below and you can also see my earlier post called "Orange & Blue: What to do."

    Now that we covered the basics on colors, let's get back to mixing prints.  Here are two examples from my wardrobe to get you started.

    First I chose my latest ModCloth purchase, the Furry Up Now dress with a fox print in rust-orange, brown, and cream.  I paired it with a printed scarf from Target that has the same rust color along with complimentary hues of mustard, plum and burgundy.  I added a plum cardi and some handmade mustard roses to enhance the scarf colors.  Even though purple and yellow are opposite colors, when they are darkened to plum and mustard, they go together quite nicely.  Then finished with burgundy shoes.  All colors from the same palette, working together in harmony while creating a visually interesting outfit.  I used colors of the same intensity and made sure that both prints had some of the same colors.

    My next piece was another ModCloth purchase, the Too Much Fun dress in bright purple, blue, green and white plaid.  The dress was my main print, so all the other items needed to have colors that came from there.  I paired it with a polka dot cardi in the same color of purple and white from Target and added an inexpensive solid blue scarf from Ebay.  I accessorized with neutral black shoes and belt since they add some definition to the look without adding more colors.  

Study your color wheel and start slowly.  I wouldn't recommend mixing more than two prints at a time or your outfit will look too busy (just like everyone told us all those years ago).

1 comment

  1. I love this! I love how you mix your prints. It is simple and beautiful! I never thought of mixing polka dots and plaid and I love it! It makes me want to try it! Thanks! :)


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