In a meeting with merchandisers from Mountain Equipment Co-op they asked me how to pattern clash. EGAD! I figure that's a sign: pattern clashing is sticking around and even moms are doing it. I could not be more excited at this development.
I love a good pattern clash. But, as evinced by the pile of clothes on my bed when I attempt a clash, the trend isn't effortless.
D'uh! Pattern clashing is the mismatching of contrasting prints in the same outfit, something we were jeered at as kids for doing and that quickly became engrained in our impressionable minds as social sin. Indeed, I was raised on a diet of grains and matchy-matchy, but if the FW2015 runways of Gucci, Dior, Chanel, Maison Margiela, Dries van Noten, etcetera etcetera are any indication it's time to drop the diet and live our weird inner child in all its glory.
Whether you're attempting to pattern clash for the first time or simply want to avoid having your closet on your floor each time you dabble in the clash, apply these pattern clash commandments and you will be ready for some well-deserved eyeball attention.
1. Keep the Clash to Two Items
Don't attempt to build Rome in a day. Until you are confident you've mastered the trend, clash a maximum of two prints in the same outfit. If you're still tepid to dip your toe in, start by clashing a top & handbag, collared shirt & sweater or an overcoat & top. You can ditch the bag/coat/sweater if you experience some regret when you check yourself out in a shop window.
2. Colour Coordinate Your Clash
At the heart of a good clash is actually coordination. As human beings, we seek balance and harmony. No one wants a visual affront to their eyes with an outfit of mustard yellows and neon greens. Remember, we're talking about pattern clashing, not colour clashing. Clash patterns that have a similar colour palette. Think a colour palette of mustard tones, pastels or primary colours. The easiest way to achieve pattern clashing is through a monochrome palette (ie. a black & white floral paired with a black & white oversized check). See the outfit at the head of this article that clashes mustard toned patterns, as well as more examples of pattern clashing within the same colour palette below.
3. Keep It Simple
Although pattern clashing throws many rules out the window, don't throw them all out. The rest of your outfit should be pared back; a single colour that coordinate with the colours in the clashing patterns. In fact, it's the items you pair with your clash that will tie the whole outfit together. For example, a blazer or vest will go a loooong way towards helping your clashy-clashy become clashy-matchy. See the outfit above, it's the black vest, bag and shoes that bring a sense of togetherness to the clashing patterns. Finally, minimal or monochrome jewellery will be most effective.
4. YES I am sneaking in a fourth commandment... DON'T BE AFRAID!
Clashing patterns is bold. It speaks to your confidence, so wear your clashy-matchy outfit with pride because damn you are incredible. No one was born great at pattern clashing, we've all experimented with it and made epic failures. Have fun, take risks. No one cheers for the normal.