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Polka Dots & Pleats

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Our fashion columnist explores the art of mixing colors, playing with patterns and incorporating prints into your outfits. Learn more about the dos and dos of mixing it up and creating style recipes.

If you run into me bopping around Hyde Park and you don’t know me, you might think to yourself, Why is she wearing all of those prints? What is she thinking? Does she know those don’t match? Or hopefully, you’re inspired to see style as an expression of self. Maybe you’ll decide to try to mix up your outfits a bit as to avoid the same old recipes you continue to put together, limiting yourself to pants that are married to a certain sweater or a dress that only goes with one belt and certain shoes. Sound familiar?

I’ve been researching Pinterest (don’t judge, I know you’ve pinned 6 things in the last 24 hours on a secret board). Anyway, I’d like to summarize my findings to help you incorporate pattern play into your wardrobe.

Study Color Experts
As much as style should be individual, fashion is often driven by designers and retailers. Browse the J.Crew catalog for a little guidance on styling a monochromatic look or to find new color combinations. Interior design is another great source of color inspiration. It’s amazing what you already have in your closet to make up these looks.
Keep a list of ideas for moments when you’re lacking creative combinations.

Try a few, including:
• Mustard & Grey
• Navy & Fuchsia
• Marsala & Bright Blue
• Camel & Hot Pink
• Yellow, Turquoise, & Black
• Olive, White, & Tan

Common Thread
This is both a literal and figurative suggestion but make sure when mixing prints that there is a common thread to pull the look together. For example, when mixing two or three patterns, make sure there is a commonality. Wear black and white prints of varying scales or ensure there is a unifying color in the multiple patterns. Remember it doesn’t have to perfectly match but be purposeful in the color coordination of your look.

Leopard is Neutral
While I can’t take credit for this concept, I do believe and practice it as a fashionista. Leopard goes with everything. Buy a pair of leopard pumps or flats to wear as often as you do your nude shoes. If you are nervous to incorporate more than one pattern, use leopard as your safety net. With leopard, ignore the common thread rule mentioned above.

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