Spring Summer 2012 Trend: Print Mixing

by Anna Villaruel
(Seoul, South Korea)

April 13, 2012: One of the fashion trends you’ll be seeing a lot this season is print mixing. It can be as subtle as wearing polkadots with stripes, or as audascious with bold colored prints on top of each other. It’s a rather adventurous move for fashionistas - but the benefits are great for the self-expressive woman: Interesting pop of visual texture and a satisfaction from taking the more individualistic approach to defining your style.

Salvatore Ferragamo SS 2012 RTW - Print mixing
Courtesy of Salvatore Ferragamo - SS 2012 RTW

I’m not much of a loud print-gal but it’s definitely an enjoyable sight for my eyes when I see trendy fashionistas rocking this combo! The secret to mastering the art of print mixing is in selecting the right prints and colors to make it work favorably together alone and with your personal style. I already touched on this topic a couple of years ago (see: Question from reader: How do I mix prints and textures?) but I'll bring it up again and add a few updates on how print mixing works!

Get the Look:


Red and pink print mixing outfit
Product info: Blazer - Blouse - Pants - Bag - Pumps


Now let’s take a look at a few guidelines on how to pull off the print-on-print outfit combo:


Vary the scale of prints

This is a very important pointer to keep in mind when mixing prints. Mainly because we want to avoid making your outfit look busy (think small prints from top to toe) or overpowering (large prints on the top and bottom can overwhelm some specific body figures which results in a look “too much”).

Also keep in mind that your choice of print size depends on your body scale and height:

If you’re petite to average you’ll look best in small to medium-sized prints. Here's an example:

Ideal print size for petites
Courtesy of iamstyle-ish

If you're a plus size, work with medium to large sizes. If you're a petite plus size go for medium-scale. If you're tall (5'7 or taller) you'll be able to handle larger prints.

Print size for plus size, petite plus size and tall women
Courtesy of Diane von Furstenberg (top)/Nordstrom

Also keep in mind that placing large prints on a small chest can make it look smaller, or small prints on wide hips = bigger hips. So make sure to wear the right print-size for that body part. For example, average-to-small prints on a slim, small chest and bigger on prominent curves.

What about prints that compete with each other?

Wearing two print garments that compete with each other only works if you’ve got the right attitude and personal style. No exceptions.

If you plan on going this route (two bold, colorful prints), work extra on selecting the right print scale and colors (explained in the next pointer). You might also want to see to it that one of the prints has a color that ties in with the other print garment.

Avoid dressing matchy-matchy


This in regards to prints that compete with each other. I would personally avoid breaking up the two garments (ie. Bold printed top and bold printed shoes). It’ll look too well-thought or resemble a funny costume (think about the dreaded denim-on-denim but more clownish), and it would be an overload for the eye to digest.

A tip is to wear them as one – for example a print blazer with a print blouse. Let them "flow" together. You want to make the prints different enough to create a fresh and chic style impact.

Same color family

Both prints must share the same color scheme, or one of them should at least consist of one color that ties in with the other print.

Chictopia outfit print mixing - same color familySame color scheme when mixing prints - image from Chictopia
Courtesy of delmymaya (left) - camilleco (right) - via Chictopia

For example, if your skirt print has orange, teal and beige on it – look for a top that has a similar color or nuance (such as olive green to go with the teal, or brown to go with the beige) OR a print that matches with at least one of the colors on the other print (for example, red in a floral print that goes with the red in plaid).

What about neutrals and classic prints?


Neutrals and classic prints are exceptions - and are much flexible than tricky-to-combine-color-and-intricate-combinations. Examples are prints in a simple, neutral color palette in a basic pattern such as leopard, navy stripes, polka dots and checkers. Click here to learn more about neutrals.

Rachel Bilson wearing a print blouse and leopard pumps - print mixingWhitney Port wearing print on print blazer and top
Courtesy of Getty Images (left) - Celebutopia (right)

You can wear these classics with whatever color print you want. Rachel Bilson to your left pairs her floral blouse with red pants and neutral leopard print pumps. Whitney Port to your right goes for a soothing, black-and-white color scheme but adds a twist with timeless plaid and stripe prints.


What do you think - solids or prints? How will you experiment with print mixing this spring-season?


Click here to post comments

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More Shopping & Chic Inspiration at the TCF Blog:
The Chic Fashionista's Latest Trends Picks - Chic Runway Looks and Must-have Trends and Trendessentials The Chic Fashionista's Chic Inspiration-blog - Outfit ideas, celeb style and trend styling tips The Chic Fashionista's Stylish Finds - Latest trends and shopping picks, sales & discounts, link round-ups and featured posts & blogs/sites Learn more about the fashion basics on how to look your best and dress stylish

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