Finding your Perfect Match – Tinder for Patterns

I’ve just come home from attending a seminar on Procrastination.

Because I do procrastinate about writing these blogs. And tonight I realised why – well certainly about this blog at least. I am terribly afraid that you will all find me out!

I am scared you will all realise that I know nothing at all about patterns and that I’m just flying by the seat of my pants here!

Which is nonsense of course. I do know lots about patterns. In theory at least.

And I even have patterns in my wardrobe. But I don’t ever put them together.

The reason for this is fairly simple. I am 5’1″ tall (that’s tall, not short!) and, although there is currently more of me than I like; in real terms there’s not much of me at all. And my clothing personality needs a neat and tidy style.

Can you see where I’m going with this? For me personally, patterns need to be kept to a minimum and I certainly don’t need to put them together – although I do remember once going to a fancy dress party with the theme of “bad taste” dressed in a leopardskin crop top, a tartan mini-skirt and paisley patterned tights.

I think I was six months’ pregnant at the time too…. Fortunately, I don’t have photographs!

The majority of you however, can claim more inches than I, and may very well feel the need to wear more patterns than I.

What can I say? I’m here to support you!

But it’s a challenge and I feel the need for a bit of support myself, so I’m going to call upon the services of my dear friend Kenolivier Gisbert… here he is. And let’s listen to ZZ Top’s Sharp Dressed Man while we just take him in, eh?

I think the fuzzy bits on either side of the shot are supposed to be artistic, but what do I know?

I said to him “You look wonderful as usual, but very grumpy, my dear.”

“Darling,” he said, “That’s my smouldering and intense GQ look.”

Well, that told me, I suppose.

The point of showing you Kenolivier is that he is illustrating an exemplary use of pattern matching. He has on a navy pin-striped suit, a plain pink shirt and that boldly striped pink and navy tie.

The colours belong to one focussed family, the patterns are related, the scales are different and the tie takes the leading role while the suit wins best supporting actor. Oh and the shirt? Probably the financial backer without whom nothing…. well, you get the picture? But then again, considering that Kenolivier is more normally photographed without all those clothes, in his particular case the shirt may be completely unnecessary…

And moving swiftly on… (before I have to give myself another severe talking to on the subject of objectifying these nice young men who work very hard in the modelling industry…)

I promised to show you Roger, didn’t I? Here he is. With apologies for my photography work. Hey – I’m a writer, not a photographer!

Remember that Roger and Margaret are clients with a difference. They very definitely need me because they are blind. Roger does assure me however, that he can definitely see that orange tie in spite of his visual impairment!

We put this outfit together for Roger to suit his cheeky personality. The light-hearted jacket is in his warm lizard grey and the shirt his autumn navy with a very small gold floral pattern. The tie – well, the tie speaks for itself!

Whereas Kenolivier has a plain shirt, Roger has a plain tie – because you do always need some plains in among the pattern.

The floral motif on the shirt is here the support to the jacket, becoming almost a texture rather than a pattern and you’re going to be seeing how that works later on.

Let’s start looking for some rules to follow, shall we?

There are a confusing number of fashion posts out there. Post with titles like,

“4 Life-Changing Tips For Mixing Prints You Need to Know NOW!” –  Hmmm – life changing, eh? – or

“8 Fabulous Ways to Mix Patterns in Fashion!” – or

“21 Ways to mix patterns like a fashion blogger!”

Oh, these posts are very careful not to use the “R” word. Apparently there are no rules. Rules are outdated and prescriptive.

Well, of course they are. I always like what Captain Babossa says in Pirates of the Cariibbean, “The code is more like guidelines than actual rules.”

So, some guidelines then….

Colour. Colour is always important. You can mix patterns quite successfully if you get the colour family right. Kenolivier chose navy and pink. We combined more colours for Roger but they are all firmly in his Autumn palette.

Here we have a right way and a wrong way.

Different patterns with a good colour theme. The crisp blue works.
And – oops! What is that soft blue doing there? Similar, my dears, but not the same at all!

Can you see that if we replaced the soft blue with a white or grey this could work? That soft greyed blue just looks drab.It might even work if that blue were a bright electric blue or a scarlet.

(OKay – so I still wouldn’t like it that much, but it would work better, alright?)

Balanced Colours – mostly Autumn

With this dress above there is a real rhythm to the colours so that the oranges provide and balance and counterpoint to the blue accents. Without seeing it I am not sure if this dress belongs in Autumn or Spring (I suspect the latter), but regardless, the colour harmony is there.

Then you need to think about scale. We’re not worrying too much about pattern themes here – we need to think about size.

Similar pattern, very different scale
Stripes of different sizes

Sometimes the smaller pattern can be viewed as mere texture…

The top with the small pattern retreats into texture
Here the polka dots become texture

We can put similar patterns together…

Similar tile motif in different scales

Or totally different patterns together…

Floral and Animal Print
Flowers on differently scaled stripes

But – beware not paying attention to scale….

Big flowers with – um – big flowers…..

Some folks maintain that polka dots and stripes go with everything….

Stripes used as a neutral
Do we notice the polka dots?

….and maybe they do.

But you can make big mistakes, even as a professional clothes designer…

Doctor – I think I’m getting a migraine!
Please – there must be someone out there who can wear this without looking like a mess!

And then, you can break the rules and end up with something stunning…

So, which pattern is subservient here?

As always – pattern matching, like everything else, is personal, individual and needs to come from your heart and your gut. And possibly your soul too.

Don’t do it just because everyone else is. If you need to stay plain then stay plain – eshew pattern completely. If you have confidence then go for it by all means, and make me proud!

Think colour first and foremost, then scale (one pattern leads, one follows and serves), think about themes of pattern (lots of choices there) and make sure everything reflects you and who you are!

Have fun, my lovelies!

Take photos and send them to me.


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