How To Wear Clashing Prints

How To Wear Clashing Prints
Photo: Instagram/@what_brooke_wore

Have you been seeing outfits with clashing prints that actually look good on Instagram lately? The clashing print trend is bigger than ever, but pulling it off takes a little research as this fashion faux-pas can end up looking like a hot mess.

If you’re asking how to wear clashing prints, don’t worry – here are the best ways to rock this print style.

How Do You Choose The Right Clashing Prints For Your Style?

If your usual wardrobe consists of block colors and monochrome clothes, print might seem like a completely different world to you. For those that haven’t started to explore the world of print, choosing prints is confusing – let alone trying to clash them. When it comes to print, there isn’t a simple answer to what will fit you – everyone has a different taste and style. 

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The best way to find your print style is to get out there and try clothes on! Often you hear ‘that print isn’t flattering’ or ‘don’t wear stripes,’ but these ideas are simply out-dated and not true. Yes, some prints can be more flattering for the figure, but this doesn’t mean you can only wear these styles. 

However, if you are conscious about going for flattering prints, it is usually suggested that you opt for ‘dense prints’ rather than ‘sparse prints.’ Sparse prints have more negative space (aka plain areas) around the design. This can lead to an uneven look and draw attention to certain parts of the body. Busier dense prints are a better option as they confuse the eye and don’t focus it on one body area.

Photo: Lookbook/@charnellegeraldine

Also, when choosing your print style, consider color and what you can pair the prints with. Think about the general color palette of your wardrobe. This will give you a better idea about what you subconsciously like wearing – use this as a guideline for buying your new printed garments. 

What Prints Go Together?

Once you’ve found your print style or have an idea of color, you can start planning how to match or clash these prints. Clashing prints is a look that was once avoided. However, it’s made its way back into fashion, and many are starting to clash on purpose. When you think of clashing, you often think of intense, bold looks, but a clash can be less obvious when done well. Always remember that fashion is about expression and feeling good at the end of the day, so don’t worry if the clashes don’t work well initially.

One of the easiest ways to clash prints is to invest in a piece that already clashes two prints! This sounds like cheating, but it’s not – I promise. When shopping, keep an eye out for tops or dresses that feature two prints with different colors of patterns. These garments are more common than you think, most fashion stores carry them. They take the stress out of print clashing as an expert designer has already done it for you.

Another easier way to get into clashing prints is to involve a jacket or coat. Clashing tops and bottoms are cool, but finding a great pair of printed pants is notoriously tricky without trying them on first (one of the pitfalls of online shopping). A printed coat or jacket can be visualized easier, so applying this onto a printed dress or top can be a great way to start clashing. Think a chic leopard print jacket with a black and white polka-dot dress – not too in your face, but still bold.

How To Wear Clashing Prints
Photo: Instagram/@what_brooke_wore

Creating Clashes With Layers

Layering is always your best friend. While you could adopt the jacket method, as listed above, there are other great ways to layer prints. Layers can help add depth to outfits, as well as complimenting other prints. When using the layering method, choose a base print on your primary (or boldest) garment. The clashing layers you add after this should be simpler than the first print – they still clash, but the focus should be on the base. 

Photo: Instagram/@adaintymum

An obvious choice for layering is scarves. These are great for winter or summer (hello light fabrics) and are always available in great prints. This is also a suitable method for any beginner. With scarves, you can start small and work your way towards a full clashing outfit. An excellent choice for clashing with a scarf layer is the classic tartan winter scarf with an animal print base layer. A black and white zebra print is always cool, so mixing this with a linear tartan style is a great way to experiment. 

You can also play with opacity and print layers. Mesh or chiffon tops can offer a sheer overlay with a print underneath. Find an abstract print crop top or dress and pair it with an oversized see-through top for an edgy or alternative look. You can find many sheer tops out there with patterns woven into the top. If not, you can also get sheer blouses with some parts printed. This effect will reveal parts of the printed undergarment for a more intricate take on clashing. 

Photo: Lookbook/@ireneccloset

Can Spots And Stripes Be Mixed?

This is another example of an out-dated view. Spots and stripes can absolutely be worn together! Stripes aren’t meant for the 4th of July outfits, after all! Yes, they’re complete opposites, but that doesn’t mean they don’t work. When mixing these two patterns, you can focus on different ways to make them complement each other, you can play with scale or color. Again, these are factors to think about when shopping for prints, so do your research first.

Photo: Instagram/@paintmehappyart

Many print fanatics suggest that playing with scale is one of the most successful ways to rock a clashing print without looking like a mess. Try varying the scale from small to large for the best results. Some would also suggest that you should keep both patterns in the same color family when mixing print sizes, but this isn’t always true. If the colors are at odds, you often get a more successful clash, so it just depends on how bold you want to be.

If you’re interested in taking on spots and stripes, start using thin strips and large polka dots or small polka dots and large stripes. A black and white striped top is always a classic. Everyone should own one, which can be paired with a polka-dot scarf or jacket for instant results. If you feel brave enough, opt for polka dot trousers – black and white cigarette style trousers with polka dots are very common and work well as office wear too.

Photo: Lookbook/@livbehindlenses

How To Incorporate Clashing Accessories?

Accessories can be overlooked with print, but often you can find some of the best prints on accessories. While some people may not want to buy copious amounts of bags and shoes, having one or two pairs with interesting patterns can change how many of your usual outfits look. Never underestimate the power an accessory has to change the energy of an outfit. 

Shoes are an excellent option for prints. Often you’ll want printed heels or boots to show off your clashing outfit at an evening event. However, you can also find lots of printed trainer options these days too.

Photo: Instagram/@smallbagsbigcolours

Good prints to invest in are any animal skin ones.  a colored snakeskin (doesn’t have to be real) on a boot can make any outfit look very high fashion and provide a great contrast to a printed dress. Heels with panels of color are another good option; these colors can contrast a jumpsuit well and give a subtle clash look.

Like shoes, bags are also good to pair with evening outfits for a successful clash. Clutch bags are a good option for providing a smaller clash to a bold base print on an outfit. A repeat abstract print on a small clutch bag works very well as a staple bag to own and pair with different evening looks. Abstract prints are always popular, so find one in the colors you wear often, and you’ll be able to wear it with most of your color matching clothes. 

Photo: Instagram/@susanthestylist

How Do You Mix Floral Prints?

Florals are one of the most common print types. However, they come in many different forms. You can get the typical smaller floral print – these tend to be multi-colored and busy. You can also get large placement floral prints, which are enlarged, and often a single print. Many would suggest mixing the larger or more minimal florals with the busy ones. Still, if you match colors in your outfits correctly, two busy florals can work in layers. 

Photo: Lookbook/@esra

As with standard print mixing, it can be good to pick a base garment/print and build the clash around this one. It can be good to think about the base print as your color palette. Let this guide you when choosing the next.

These color palettes can clash, but with florals, it can be better to pick similar ones. Next, pick the different scales. We would suggest a more minimal design with a busier one, but two small and busy florals can blend from further away, so this could also be a good starting clash. A good rule of thumb is to wear the larger print on the bottom of the outfit and the smaller one on top.

Photo: Lookbook/@elarmariodelanena

When wearing double florals (or triple if you’re brave), it can sometimes be helpful to break the outfit up with a solid neutral color. This is a garment, like a blazer or a cardigan, which will stop the pattern clash from being too intense but won’t take away from the overall clash effect. You can even use accessories to do this or to emphasize the color palette. A bold earring in the color of the base floral can add finishing touches to a chic look. 

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