Patterns are like bold colors, and sometimes it’s difficult to step out of one’s comfort zone and into the bold. Not too long ago pink was a huge no-no in the world of men’s fashion. Now bold colors, like pink, and pastels are all over the fashion landscape. Even Gucci which is known for the classics has stepped into the world of patterns. They currently offer their classic horsebit loafer in a mini floral pattern.
However, patterns are different than colors in that the traditional rules for matching colors don’t really apply to patterns. Blue shirt, blue jeans. Brown belt, brown shoes. This is usually how we generally approach matching colors. When it comes to matching patterns, though, it can be a tricky predicament. Plaid shirt, plaid pants? Polka-dot tie, polka-dot socks? This matchy-matchy concept doesn’t really work the as well for patterns. If you don’t already know them, you should get to know your patterns before reading on.
One almost has to approach pairing patterns with the intent of not matching. Think complimentary, but not a tie composed of small prints. Tame polka-dots with heavy solid prints to help ground its boldness. Use paisley as an accent to make a conventional outfit, unconventional.
In the outfit to the left and below, the polka-dot sweater was the primary pattern. When paired with the eggplant chinos, this is a pretty bold outfit. But simply throwing on a classic brown tweed jacket pulls the outfit together and transforms the polka-dots to an accent rather than a statement piece. If a pattern seems too loud, tame it with a classic piece.
The camo pattern in the outfit to the left and below was the inspiration for this look. However, a plaid shirt and fair-isle scarf were also used to add depth and dimension to the outfit. This outfit is a hodgepodge of patterns but is harmoniously pulled together by layering a heavy neutral tone blazer. The camo pants stand out, but now the red plaid is an accent with the fair-isle scarf being a functional accessory for a cold winter day.
It’s difficult to write a how-to article when the whole purpose is to avoid step-by-step guidelines on patterns. The only rule to pattern matching is:
There are no rules to pattern matching.
Mix and match, with a heavy emphasis on mix. It’s important to be comfortable with what you’re wearing when choosing a style. That being said, with evolution and change, we sometimes have to challenge our boundaries and comfort zone. If we chose to stick with the status quo, then we would all be wearing the same style we wore back in high school. Think of the pictures in this article as inspiration rather than guidelines or rules.
Pour a drink, get rid of any inhibitions, and be bold with patterns.