How to pull off pattern mixing: the not-so-subtle art of power clashing.


Pink and red. Stripes and plaid. Orange juice and toothpaste. There are some things we’ve been told just don’t mix. But what if we’re wrong? With the right approach, power clashing is a colourful way to let the world know you’re not afraid to step outside of the box, style-wise, and totally pull off a somewhat controversial move. Here’s our guide to mixing the unmixable. (Except for orange juice and toothpaste. You’re on your own there.)


Or, if you are mixing colours, don’t mix patterns.

This is a ‘pick a lane’ situation: you can either go different patterns in the same colour, or the same pattern in different colours. Think: red plaid and blue plaid. As long as there is one consistent element throughout, whether that’s the colour or the pattern, you’ll be good. But never go different colour AND different pattern. It’s the crossing the streams of pattern mixing.


ease into it.

Perfect pattern matching takes some practise. So, we recommend baby steps: invest in smaller patterned accessories and work your way up. Start with a patterned pocket square, then socks, then ties, then shirts, then suits. Going all in on a patterned suit on your first try? We love the dedication, but the investment might not be the most sound.


When in doubt, polka/stripe it out.

Polka dots and stripes are the gateway mix: they always look good together, they’ll always complement each other, and they’re a great way to ease into pattern matching with swagger.


Mix patterns, not colours.

It’s called ‘pattern mixing’, not ‘colour mixing’. That’s a horse of a different...well, colour. When going pattern-on-pattern, keep your patterns in the same colour family to avoid veering into clown territory. A blue pinstripe suit with blue paisley suspenders? Don’t mind if you do.

harry-brewer-694820-unsplash (1).jpg

Pick a dominant pattern and an accent pattern.

This tip is key to making your pattern mixing look intentional, not accidental. Pick a dominant pattern (like the one on your suit or shirt) and add an accent pattern by way of smaller accessories (like suspenders, socks, bowties, ties).


think big and small.

If you’re not quite ready to mix completely different patterns, start small (and big) by mixing the same pattern in different sizes. Think a houndstooth-pattern jacket with a smaller houndstooth-pattern sock. Still matching, but not matchy-matchy.



Suggested Reads

Style, businesspb+j