Get it right and it can look like you've effortlessly walked off a catwalk.
Get it wrong and it can look like you've gone amok in a charity shop, blindfolded.
Although I love colour and print, I've not done many full on pattern mixing outfits on the blog to date. My pattern mixing has gravitated more to the gentler, subtler end of the spectrum; usually a couple of accessories mixed with one, key outfit piece.
However, I plan to do more and my pattern mixing snakeskin & lace post a couple of weeks ago kick started this in style. I see many bloggers pairing florals and stripes but with today's outfit, I've ramped up the ante. Using two key pieces, I've mixed florals and checks for a more distinctive look.
Where did I start?
I took a rather unusual approach when putting this all together but one which I do know well, to show that it is possible to use skills you have in one area to assist in a totally different one. Step forward my knowledge of anatomy and the principles of Pilates!
Now before you think,
'Are you kidding me? The study of anatomy can be applied to styling? Have you been drinking too many vodka tonics?'.
Bear with me. I promise it won't be an anatomy lecture!
The shoulder and hip joint in the human body share many similarities. They are both ball and socket joints, are cup shaped, are the space holders for our limbs, and allow a high range of movement, more so than any other joints in the body.
They each have distinguishing features. The hip joint is mainly but not exclusively, a load-bearing joint, requiring a high degree of stability whilst the shoulder joint requires incredible mobility for the work we ask it to do and has a shallower socket than the hip. Of course, there's a lot more to it than just this but I did promise this wasn't going to be an anatomy lecture!
If both joints are healthy and fully functioning, they allow the body to perform many complex tasks on a daily basis in a harmonious way, thus minimising unnecessary movement or pull on other body parts.
With this knowledge in mind, I transferred it to creating an outfit. I just needed to choose two key main pieces, similar in shape and style, each having their own characteristics that allows them stand out as individual pieces, but without pulling focus from the overall look.
We're aiming for visual harmony, not visual discord!
I settled on a pair of joggers that have a strong check - a solid pattern to ground the outfit.
Rather like the hip joint.
For the upper half, a light weight Summer jacket with a beautiful, swirling, interconnecting floral motif.
Kinda like my shoulder joint.
Joggers have definitely grown in popularity. Only a few years ago they were considered just leisure wear, now they're mainstream garments; albeit still on the informal end of the trouser spectrum when compared with tailored trousers.
The jacket has no button fastening and is only semi-lined. Less formal blazer, more kimono in feel.
Not only do the joggers and the jacket share common style qualities, the prints of each are in proportion and we've cascading shades of grey right down through the outfit. The floral motif in particular, looks like it's been sketched in graphite by hand.
Just as each joint in the body is unique, here the joggers and the jacket stand alone as statement pieces. Yet their similarities mean they're harmonious when paired together, without one pulling more focus than the other.
How to integrate these two pieces.
We talk alot in Pilates about integration; specifically movement integration. Aiming for the body to work as a whole, organised unit, from the centre to the periphery. A major part of the support system to do that is the breath. I teach clients to breathe down through the column of the body, creating space for the diaphragm to contract and expand three dimensionally.
Clearly, I needed to introduce a column of one colour that would link both pieces whilst giving each space to breath. Turquoise so suits my colouring and being such a vibrant colour it stops the outfit looking too monochrome. Whether it's also an excuse to wear my turquoise wedge sandals, I shall leave entirely up to you to decide!
In reality any bold saturation of colour would look wonderful as a integrating piece - think cobalt blue, hot pink, citrus orange, pillar box red.
Overall structure in place, I moved onto the finishing touches. I could've added another colour with my bag but instead played around more with the pattern mixing - I mean why stop at two?
Let's bring in some snakeskin! Spices up the floral, holds its own against the checks.
You'll notice I'm even mixing my jewellery! I've truly thrown the pattern mixing kitchen sink at this one, I tell ya! I've never been worried about matching my jewellery. I wear what feels right to me and what amuses me at any given moment; hence a silver necklace and a coloured bracelet.
Even these two pieces share similarities if you look close enough. Both are geometric shapes - triangles and ovals.
Dear lord, pass me another vodka tonic. I'm on fire here.
- Choose two key pieces - one lower body, one upper body.
- Find common ground between them - colour, proportion, style (casual or formal).
- If you choose two upper body pieces. you can either keep the prints proportionally the same or have one big print and one small.
- Opposites attract. Contrasting prints make playful companions e.g.
spots and stripes
stripes and florals
florals and checks
abstract and spots
- Choose a linking piece. It can be a plain top or blouse or even a block of texture like lace or embroidery.
- You can even bring in a 3rd, smaller print with your accessories - footwear, bag, jewellery, scarf.
- If you do, create a cohesive look by finding a similarity to either the main prints or your linking piece. Here the snakeskin is similar in shade to the two main prints. I've kept the linking colour to the cami, shoes and bracelet.
Wallis Petite Jacket SS16. Sold out now. Wallis Black Floral Blazer
ASOS Petite Joggers SS16 Sold out now. Boohoo Bohemian Print Joggers Miss Selfridge Petite Tile Print Joggers or currently on sale these Wallis Petite Paisley Print Joggers.
Monsoon Turquoise Cami (old)
Vera Wang Clutch (e-bay, old)
New Look Necklace & Wedges (old)
Turquoise Bracelet (old)
Checks and Floral Footnote
I problem solved my way through the pattern mixing maze by taking lessons learned in two disciplines - anatomy and Pilates - and applying them to styling. Not such a gulf as you maybe first thought!
It's a skill we probably do more often than we give ourselves credit for in real life. It's certainly one that high achievers, influencers and experts in all walks of life learn to hone. Art can learn from science and science can inform art.
Where and how do you transfer your skills? Do you have a unique approach to pattern mixing?