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3 Rules for Easy Mixing of Patterns and Prints

by Tina Boomerina (Christina Gregoire)

I think that Boomer women over 50 are starting to get used to the idea of mixing and matching clothing patterns. And, why not? It’s a lot of fun. So, here are 3 simple rules, along with 5 examples of easy-to-wear prints, that I think would be fun to play with... as you experiment with the new print on print trend.

Rules for Mixing and Matching - I Hate Rules

Okay, I’m an artsy, boho, hippie, artist type of gal. I grew up in the 60’s. I hate rules. I think that most people learn by experimentation and that most rules should be thrown out the window when it comes to creative endeavors.  But, I also know that it helps to have a "base" when learning something new. So, here are three tips that will help you get started. These ideas are from Lexie Sandberg, an interior designer (see Resource), but I’ve adapted her "Susie Homemaker" rules so that they make sense for mixing and matching (or mismatching) fabric patterns when you're having fun playing dress-up in your closet.

Lexie's Rules:

  • 1. Mix the scale of your patterns (after choosing one dominant pattern).
  • 2. Mix geometric patterns with natural patterns (such as florals and animal prints).
  • 3. Use at least one print that is like a solid or has a darker background.

fashion for women over 50 baby boomers

Let's Play: Start With One Dominant Pattern

In the photo above, I've chosen 5 prints out of hundreds of cool patterns. Oh, there are so many cute patterns to love, but I picked these 5 examples as our potential patterns (dominant prints) that would make great starting points for inventing cool, mixy-matchy outfits. Here's why I like each one of these prints:

  • 1. River Island: Morocco-like and hip. Great colors. Has both florals and geo dots.
  • 2. People Tree: Colors that look good near my face. Has both natural and geo prints.
  • 3. Very: Dark, beautiful, and easy-to-mix geometric pattern.
  • 4. Primark: Beautiful colors, baroque feel.
  • 5. Very: Almost like an animal print, but it's a geo print when you get up close.

How to Mix Patterns

I played around with photos of different clothing items that might "go" with each of the dominant prints. In real life, I might choose something different. I would have to see how the combination looked on my body, because I would never want to draw attention to the parts of my bod that I dislike... even though I KNOW I should love my body the way it is because it's MY body and it's the only body I have.

how to mix and match prints

Mix and Match Morocco Print (above)

This is what I came up with to mix with the River Island jacket. My "Morocco" outfit uses 3 prints... but did I follow the rules? I don't know. Let's see how my outfit scores.

1) I did use patterns with different scales. The T-shirt top has a larger print than either of the other pieces. 2.) I used mostly natural patterns, but the jacket has some tiny geometric areas. 3.) I used two prints (the top and the jeans) that have solid or darker backgrounds. So, I guess I sort of followed the rules by instinct. I get a B- because I didn't really include any geometric prints... but I don't really care. (article continues)

Keep Reading about easy ways to mix and match prints on page two.

Tina Boomerina (AKA Christina Gregoire) is a Baby Boomer born at the end of 1952. Her mission is to make the internet a kinder and gentler place for Baby Boomer women around the world. Tina's specialty is fashion for women over 50.

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  1. kay kerns

    ooh! All your outfits on here are winners in my book! And i feel the same way about 'fashion rules' fun to study and to know, but really just use your eyes and mind, if it looks good to you then go with it...i've been trying on all my clothes and accessories together in different combinations trying to make new outfits and stretch my wardrobe...it's fun!

  2. deb

    I find it frustrating when clothes shopping. I want something bright and funky without being too short, too tight or generally too young. I keep fit and have kept to a good size 10/12 but things are either too young or too matronly. I hope this site offers what I find suitable for me. I have right this minute purchased from a site an all in one pantsuit, it looks terrific, my fingers are crossed that I hae found the perfect outfit for me.