Get your own personal stylist to help you find clothes you love. All online, completely free
Stripes. Paisleys. Florals. More stripes. Wearing patterns is one of the easiest ways to jazz up a look, and with so many stylish options to choose from, why limit yourself to wearing only one? It might seem like a trend that’s not for the faint-hearted, but with the right considerations, you can pull it off with the ease that you pair your favourite jeans and tee. We spoke with Thread stylist Toby Standing about how to pull off pairing patterns thoughtfully.
Dip into a consistent colour palette
“When mixing patterns, try to keep a consistent colour palette,” Toby says. “This helps the look feel coherent and purposeful, instead of clashy and loud for the sake of it.” Neutral colours like greys and browns or tonal blues all work well, as they feel considered without looking too bold.
Embrace different pattern scales
Similarly, mixing the same patterns in different scales, like small and large checks or thick and thin – or vertical and horizontal – stripes is a safer starting point than diving straight into florals and paisleys. You can even find pieces that do the clashing for you, like workwear-inspired patchwork shirts.
This considered way of dressing brings extra interest to your look without feeling overbearing as it’s subtle, but not completely minimal. “The ability of patterns to add texture to your outfit is often overlooked in favour of their eye-catching qualities,” Toby says. “This neutral combination of subtle patterns works because they aren’t fighting against each other. They feel like they belong together even though they’re all different.”
Lean on layering
If you’re not ready to go all-out with a patterned coat, mid-layer, shirt, and trousers, you can easily create a similar, more low-key version of the look by dropping one or two of the elements. Layering is the easiest way to pull off pattern-clashing, so rather than check trousers and a striped shirt, go for a patterned overcoat and a simple patterned shirt with plain trousers and mid-layers to break it up.
Don’t be afraid to go bold
If you prefer a more exaggerated pattern, pick something like a shirt with thick stripes or a large-checked overcoat. “These pieces will have more impact together than something safer like a pinstripe Oxford shirt,” Toby says.
Words: Ella White
Photography: Jack Batchelor
Styling: Millie Rich
Styling assistant: Toby Standing