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Style myth: you shouldn’t mix prints

Style myth: you shouldn’t mix prints

After a year spent in trackies (and your Zoom-approved tops on rotation), you’d be forgiven for forgetting that getting dressed should be fun. Of all the things we share with you here at Thread, that is style rule number one, and giving you the licence to get creative with your style is our raison d’être. That’s why we’re out to debunk any old-school style myths that could stand in your way.

Today, we’re getting up close and personal with prints. It’s true, mixing prints can feel like tricky territory. But it’s also one of the key ways you can make a statement with your style. So dust off your pinstripes and polka dots, and have a read of our five top tips for clashing with confidence. 

1. Choose contrasting prints

Images feature Bianca, a London-based stylist 

The main thing to remember when mixing prints is that it should look deliberate. If the shapes are too similar, your outfit might look mismatched, so go bold and play up the contrast. A pinstripe with a zebra print is a good example. Or, if you really want to double up on stripes, just make sure you offset the pinstripe with a thicker stripe elsewhere. 

2. Strike a balance

Not all prints are created equal. Some are small and compact like ditsy florals, whilst others are bolder in scale. Too many small prints can be a bit fussy, whilst mixing several large prints can look cartoonish. Our advice? Take a print from each camp to balance out the look.

3. Consider your colours

If you’re going bold with your prints, you might want to balance things out via a more conservative colour palette. That needn’t mean sticking to all neutral colours. But especially if you’re mixing more than two prints together, try to keep at least a couple within the same tonal family.

4. Break them up

Weirdly, when you’re wearing lots of prints, the eye is always drawn to the plainest part of the outfit. (Isn’t that just typical?) With that in mind, it can be a good idea to ground your prints with a block-color piece or a simple white tee. This will break up the contrasting patterns, and stop your outfit looking too busy. 

5. Avoid mixing intricate prints

Okay, so we hate to put the stops on just as you’re getting the hang of things. But as much as we love clashing prints, there are some combos it’s best to avoid. Leopard and camo are two prints that don’t tend to mix well – there’s already a lot going on in each, so styling them together can look quite overwhelming. But if you’re set on breaking the rules (and heck, why shouldn’t you?), consider adding a plain layer in between.

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Words: Victoria Ferguson
Photography: Liz Seabrook
Styling: Hannah Thistleton