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The Dos And Don'ts Of Patterns In Your Wardrobe

Whether you’re a fan of block colors and you fancy experimenting, or you just fancy branching out and trying something new, using patterns in your outfit can be daunting. Not only do you have the colors to consider, but you also have to think about whether the patterns work together, whether the look is too busy, and if it is even flattering to your body type. Here are some basic patterns, and great ways to include them in your look.

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Stripes are, and always will be, a firm favorite. They’re easy to wear with block colors, but unlike many patterns, you can get away with pairing stripes with stripes, and even stripes with other patterns. The only consideration left is the old argument: is vertical or horizontal more flattering? Stripes work well in both main, feature pieces and in accessories, so don’t be afraid to experiment.



Paisley wants to be the centre of attention, and there’s no double about that. Beautiful paisley dresses, such as those from, are out there, but tremendously elegant. Make sure, if you’re opting for paisley, that you keep other items of clothing and accessories to block colors. There are more subtle varieties of paisley available too, which are great for experimenting – try a necktie or a headband for a cute place to start.

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Floral patterns are pretty, feminine, and surprisingly easy to wear. They don’t usually look overwhelming as a block piece, such as a playsuit or a cute summer dress, but it can be quite difficult to pair floral patterns with other patterns without the outfit looking overly busy. Smaller, more delicate patterns can look great with stripes, polka dots, or even plaid, but larger, more in-your-face patterns want to be centre stage.


Polka dots

Like stripes, dots have the flexibility thing down to a fine art. They vary in size and color, but their overall look is uniform. The only problem with going all-out spotty is that there is a risk of looking like a children’s television presenter. For a more mature look, go with tiny dots, or dots which are closer in tone to the background color.

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There is something beautifully traditional about plaid, but you’d never wear two different plaid fabrics together. This is a pattern that wants to be centre of attention. There is a lot going on, and different styles of plaid don’t necessarily get on with each other. If you’re a fan, be sure to keep yourself limited to one item of plaid per outfit for the perfect plaid to non-plaid ratio.


Herringbone and houndstooth

The beauty of both herringbone and houndstooth is that they’re just different enough to look unique, but similar enough to work well together. With both of them, you could dress yourself in either head to toe and look fantastic, as long as you work it right. Both make particularly great outer coat fabrics, mainly because they’re hard wearing, but also because it doesn’t really matter what you’re wearing underneath, they’ll still look great.


Don’t be afraid to wear fabrics in your outfits, just be careful not to overdo it unless you know what you’re doing.


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