Mixing Patterns Fashion Guide for Men

Nothing will make you stand out from the crowd like patterned clothes. For some, that’s great news. For others, it’s nerve-wracking. What if your clothes are too “loud”? What if your patterns are clashing? Just how are you supposed to know how to match your patterned wardrobe? That’s easy! Follow this simple mixing patterns fashion guide.

First, Know Your Mixing Patterns Fashion Terminology

You know all the common patterns for your clothes: checkers, stripes, and the like. But patterns can get a little complicated. To avoid creating a clashing outfit, avoid using more than one of the following:

  • Plaid: A pattern of crisscrossing lines, or ribbons, usually of contrasting colors. Plaid designs often include three or more colors, though from far away, they can appear to have one unifying color theme.
  • Gingham: Think “picnic table” and you understand what Gingham is: thin boxes across what is usually a shirt, typically of two contrasting colors.
  • Flannel: Not a pattern! We mention it here because it’s often associated with plaid, but it needs to be debunked: flannel refers to the weaving of a fabric itself.
  • Madras: Madras is usually a cotton fabric with a random, or “patched” look to it; like plaid, it can often have a unifying theme of one color. This American Patch Madras short is a great demonstration of how contrasting elements can create one unified theme.
  • Tartan: Another name for “Plaid,” this is the Scottish version of plaid—what you see on kilts and different types of Scottish formal wear. Essentially it is another word for plaid, though you will also see stores offering “mini-tartan” patterns as well.
  • Nautical: Anchors, boats, lighthouses—the nautical theme is especially popular in New England style but finds its way across the country thanks to its association with a classic “preppy” look. See the anchors on our Engineered Print Short for a prime example of a nautical pattern.

These are the more complicated and visually “busy” patterns you’ll want to avoid mixing with each other when it comes to solid fashion. Mixing patterns in an outfit is certainly possible, but that usually means pairing a subtle, muted pattern such as stripes with one of the bolder patterns listed above.

Fashion Tip: Mixing Patterns Without Clashing

Now that you know the patterns, it’s time to mix and match a little bit. Here are the essential tips:

  • First, know the “color theme” of the pattern you’re wearing. This Oxford Washed Plaid Hunter shirt technically features a number of colors, but the background clearly sets the rule here: a subtle shade of green. Pairing it with bright orange bottoms might be a little too “loud” for an outfit, while brown or khaki pants would suit this pattern just fine.
  • Stick to one strong pattern at a time. An outfit consisting of jeans and a plaid shirt is a great “beginner’s” style that will always work. Solid colored shirts with patterned shorts, such as an Oxford Cloth Button Down shirt with Madras shorts are just as classic.

Over time, try to introduce other patterns into the mix to see what fashion feats you can get away with. Chances are you might fail here and there, but over time, you may surprise yourself and create one creative outfit after another.

Buy Quality Men’s Patterned Shirts and Shorts

Browse our collection to find a full range of men’s patterned shirts and shorts to find the perfect pieces for your wardrobe.