Pattern Mixing: Everyone's a critic

There are a lot of things I love about blogging. I love drumming up topics to write about and doing research for a post. I love sharing tips regarding thrifting and shopping for vintage. I love networking with other fashion bloggers through my own blog, IFB, Twitter, and Facebook. And I love reading other blogs and learning all I can about the ever-changing world of fashion and personal style.

However, the thing I adore most about blogging is the wealth of learning opportunities, both within and outside of fashion. Because, truth be told, I'm a gigantic nerd. I was one of those people who cried at their high school and college graduations not because I was afraid to enter the "real world," but because it meant I would no longer be in class. Whether it's statistics, html code, or the proper way of blending eye shadows, I'm that hand-waving, brown-nosing, front row student bursting with enthusiasm. I take copious notes. I watch how-to clips on YouTube. I make magazine pages hemorrhage with fluorescent yellow highlighter. I am a certifiable dork.

This week one of my goals was to try my hand at pattern-mixing. In case you've been living under a rock, forming an ensemble around mixed patterns (and textures) has been a hot fashion trend since, well, Marc Jacob's plaid-heavy grunge collection back in 1992. Naturally, I planned my attack carefully. I methodically researched pattern-mixing on Google, bringing up tips from a encyclopedic collection of different sources. Glamour suggested working around a base color. Academichic recommended allowing one pattern be the dominant player over another, such as a tweed skirt with a striped sweater. Suzy of Miss Vinyl Ahoy advised me to think of one pattern as a solid, such as a blouse with small polka dots or a tiny print, and pair a bolder item with it. On Kelinda.KELINDA, I also learned to pair loud patterns with more subtle ones, while Pixie In Pumps' style inspiration folder gave me a glimpse into pattern-mixing on the runway. And no one does pattern mixing as well as my style guru Erin of Work With What You've Got.

This morning I woke up feeling refreshed and confident, armed with pages of research and closet full of patterned separates. I would so rock this, I decided. My gold cable-knit sweater, striped long-sleeved tee, and floaty floral skirt seemed perfect for my debut into pattern-mixing. Carefully I put the pieces on, sauntered out my bedroom, and left the house for a day of errands and thrifting.

Either I failed miserably at pattern mixing, or the public isn't quite ready for this clearly adventurous look, because I received many quizzical looks during the day. Some women outright stared. Teenagers elbowed each other, encouraging closer examination of my ensemble. The check-out woman at Kroger informed me that I looked"...interesting" (insert sneer.) However, the harshest criticism originated from my own family, when my youngest child coldly announced that I looked "like a crazy hobo." Harsh. Then again, this is how he prefers to dress:

Foam Mario Bros. hat, white shorts, and a blankie. It's what all the hip people are wearing this season, apparently.
So I'm not that worried. I'll admit that mixing patterns was definitely out of my comfort zone. My particular combination took some getting used to. And I felt kind of rebellious all day...which was sort of fun.

Have you tried mixing patterns? Or do you shy away from this trend? Why or why not? And did I indeed fail miserably?

Thrifted Loft cardigan; thrifted J Crew long-sleeved tee; thrifted vintage Ann Taylor silk skirt; Gap Outlet tights; Nine West oxfords, Target belt


  1. I like your sense of adventure. That way happiness lies.

    I was a nerd too before becoming a fashion-maven. :)

  2. I love this. Stripes and florals always win. And I love gold! The looks aren't always bad. And the critisisim from kids? Well, grain of salt. (I get looks ALL THE TIME. sometimes fabulousness just doesn't compute. Doesn't mean you aren't fabulous!)

  3. I think the stripes and floral pattern look great together! That's a great idea I had not thought of.

    - Angela

  4. i love the mix of stripes and floral print actually! and definitely not like a "crazy hobo"! i actually will have to try out this mix sometime myself!

    cute and little

  5. I really loving the stripes and floral together and I dont think you fail miserably in this one I love the combination, I think probably a little color on the cardigan to make it pop out instead of brown, nevertheless I still love it!! Great idea

  6. This post might be the best I've read all day!
    You make me smile! I love your nerdiness! I'm getting ready to graduate and while I'm happy to be done with undergrad, I'm worried as to what I'll do without classes, and have started looking at all kinds of grad programs ...

    Mixing patterns is defiantly a challenge, and I haven't really taken the big step yet! Maybe soon... :-D

  7. I think you did an excellent job, I like the ensemble a lot. Though it would look more cohesive if you styled it with brighter coloured tights and maybe shoes in beige/gold to sort off connect the shoes with the belt. I hope I make sense.
    But pattern mixing is a very delicate art, I myself am quite a novice in this department, so far a pin striped skirt with a polka dot shirt has been my only venture into this territory.

  8. Bright tights would have been a great idea...why didn't I think of that? I'll definitely try them out the next time I wear this skirt! Thanks for the tip!

  9. I think you look adorable! I tend to stick with patterns that are the same colors but the florals and stripes go so well together.

    Come take a look inside A Working Mom's Closet

  10. I'm disappointed--I scrolled down expecting a much higher level of crazy. :-) I think you did a great job, and I'm not an adventurous pattern-mixer myself. If I was going to change anything I'd move the belt higher for better waist definition and a longer leg line.

  11. I say this look is a SCORE!! I just can't bring myself to mix patterns. Pattern mixing is a scary world.

  12. i agree with christa...i expected something totally crazy! i think you look bright, cute, and interesting (although not in the way the cashier implied). i think the patterns look great together!

  13. You are SO cute! And definitely don't look like a "30 something". You totally rocked the pattern mixing. As for the snotty cashier... she only wishes she could look that good.

  14. I for one love your print mixing! Those patterns go great together.

    And I love your son's hat! I am somewhat obsessed with the Mario Bros. series, haha. I do have Princess Peach tattooed on my back. ;)


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