Mixing Prints: The Art of Clashing and Matching

Prints weren’t necessarily made to stand alone against a canvas of solid colour. Mixing prints well – especially bold with bold prints – can take a little finesse, but with a few solid guidelines in mind, anyone can give it a go!


Miss Shop top (similar here) | Asos jeans (similar here) | Zara slides (similar here) | Vintage bag


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I wouldn’t say I am an expert in mixing prints (for more expert clashes, check out this Pinterest board!), but I definitely like to dabble in different ways to wear the printed pieces in my wardrobe. Extending my existing wardrobe by finding new combinations within it not only saves me dollars, but makes me work to get the wear out of each piece I purchase. It is becoming increasingly important the more print I add…

It goes without saying that some prints are more difficult to mix together than others. A chaotic floral (like this dress) may need someone with a little more print-mixing experience/confidence to make work with another print than, say, the polka dot top I am wearing here. So then where do we start? How do we put a print against another print confidently?

There are a few things to keep in mind when attempting to mix prints…

Keep it tonal

By ‘tonal’ I mean ‘keep your colours similar or from within the same palette’ i.e. mixing two different black and white prints. Obviously, this is one of the easiest print mixes you could do. When you only have two colours to worry about, the rest is cinch.

When you start working with different colours, it starts getting a little trickier. You don’t have to stick to a duotone palette either. Black, white, red and blue work amazingly well together, so you could play around with mixing different prints that utilise those colours. If you need some help working out which hues work well together, remember that anything that sits next to each other, or directly opposite each other, on the colour wheel are favoured colour combinations.

Go for a graphic print

A classic combo to start you off mixing prints is graphic on graphic – like polka dots and stars. A graphic print on a graphic print almost always works. In fact, graphic prints (stripes, checks, spots, stars etc) go with almost every other print, provided they aren’t too busy themselves and the colour palette of the pieces works together. To nail a graphic on graphic print, there are a few things to remember…

  • The same print is amazing together in different proportions – i.e. a red and white polka dot dress with a smaller red and white polka dot tee underneath.
  • The same print also works but in different colours – i.e. blue and white horizontally striped top with a red and white vertically striped pair of pants.
  • A graphic print can be paired back with almost any other print. If you want to experiment with mixing prints with a floral print, choosing a graphic print to pair back with it is a good place to start.
Use printed accessories to ease yourself into the print mixing game

Jumping straight into printed tops and bottoms can be a little daunting, but you can make it easier! Throw on your favourite pair of jeans and a printed top, and then experiment with your accessories (a la Mon in these photos!). Handbags, shoes, scarfs and even belts can all work as ‘print clash’ pieces!

Once you have got your head around some of the easier clashes, it is time to start experimenting with the floral on floral, or paisley on paisley!

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