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3 Rules for Easy Mixing of Patterns and Prints

easy ways to mix print on print

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Lavender Dress With Swirls - Mix and Match (above)

This outfit makes me feel happy. I love the tote from Paul's Boutique, and it's hard to see it in this picture, but the Radley watch has little dots that match the bag. And, the dress has little dots, too. I wonder how this outfit would look on me. And... did I follow the rules?

1) The scale of the dress pattern is much larger than the other patterns. That's good. 2) The geometric dots balance the natural, flowing designs in most of the patterns. 3) The tote bag is darker than the other patterns and the bag works almost like a solid. Yay. I did it right without consciously following the rules. (A+)

Actually, I put these imaginary outfits together before I knew the rules. I like to do things backwards. I like to make things up as I go... so if I had followed the rules, the outfits might be better, but I might not have had as much fun.

print on print purple dress

Purple Geo Dress - Print on Print (above)

I think this mix came out very cool and wearable. The House o f Fraser purse is so perfect with the dress and the Oliver Bonas scarf is something I just grabbed off the website I use for photos, but it keeps everything from looking too matchy-matchy. What's my score?

1) I did NOT mix different scales of patterns. 2) I did mix a natural print (the scarf) with geometrics. 3) I think the top part of the dress has a print that's like a solid. Oh well. BFD. I like it... I would wear it.

fashion rules for older women

Teal Floral Dress - Print on Print (above)

I think this mix and match outfit would look better on you (or me) than it does in the photo collage. Actually, I think it would look pretty awesome. Did I follow the rules? Probably not... I seldom do.

1) I'm not sure if I mixed the scale of the patterns. 2) The dress has a somewhat diamond-shaped geometric pattern even though it's mostly flowery. 3) The dress has a darker background... so I got that part right. Hey, I like it. I think it's cute. Screw the rules.

what to wear when you're a baby boomer womanBlue Dot Dress Mix and Match (above)

I love how this came out. I would definitely wear this. It's totally possible that I flunked the "test", but I came up with something I love, so that's the whole point of mixing and matching. Right?

1) I mixed the scale of my patterns. Yay. 2) I used mostly natural prints. The dress has a tiny geometric pattern, but it reads more like leopard. 3) The scarf has a dark background and the dress is like a solid. I think I got an A- with this outfit.

What Did I Learn From This?

Although it may not be apparent in these little photos, I spent a lot of time playing around with different prints and patterns, and here's what I learned: It's easier to mix and match if you have a lot of printed scarves. Leopard shoes (and bags) go with almost everything. Black and white prints go with most geometric patterns. You can never have too many small, repeating geometrics, such as little polka dots or diamonds. Stripes do NOT go with everything. Watercolor prints are dreamy and look fab with other prints. Playing "fashion designer" is more fun when you're playing with colors you love.

More Articles for Baby Boomer Women:

How to Do Folkloric Fashion Without Looking Like Heidi

The Year of the Tunic - Fashion for Women Over 50

Wearable Clothing Trends for Fall: Women Over 40, 50, 60

Hippie Clothes: How Did Hippie Fashion Start?

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LexieSandberg, How to Mix Patterns, dreamtillgreen.com

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.