I am sure many of you are asking yourselves how to mix patterns of your suits, shirts and ties. There are some rules that you should follow. Once you learn them you can start to break them. But first things, first. Let’s go through some basics.
Use solid colors for a start
Mixing sold color shirts or suits with patterns is pretty easy. This is the easiest thing. If you are beginner at mixing patterns, always have one piece of clothing in solid color. Preferably shirt or suit. The safest is to go with white or pale blue shirts, since these colors go well with majority of suits.
For a start try wearing navy blue suit, pale blue shirt and add some splash to the mix with pattern tie or pocket square. If you are feeling comfortable with matching patterns, try adding some pattern in the shirt also. Options are endless. I like to wear my ties in solid colors.
Don’t know why, but that’s just my style. You can wear windowpane suit, gingham checked shirt and solid tie and pocket square. I do not like to wear too many patterns, so having two patterns in your combination is more than enough. You will look distinctive from the majority of the guys wearing solid colors and on the other hand you will still look serious enough.
Mixing two same patterns
As I said, I love to mix checkered patterns, but there is a rule for this. If your patterns are the same, lets say checkers, they must be in different sizes. As different as possible. The first example I mentioned in paragraph above. Windowpane suit and gingham shirt. Windowpane suits have large squares, gingham shirts have small ones.
Another example would be stripes. If you are wearing a suit with stripes make sure they are widely spaced, and the suit is paired with striped shirt but with stripes closely spaced. In both of these two examples person viewing us can distinguish the patterns more easily.
You can go with sold shirt and patterned tie, but always pay attention to patterns. They must not clash.
Mixing two different patterns
If you are mixing two patterns that are different like squares and dots pay attention so they are close in size.
If the checks on your suit are smaller, make sure your polka dot tie has smaller dots, or you can wear a solid suit and have a dress shirt in dominant pattern which is paired with a tie of different pattern but the same size. For example, solid gray suit, gingham check shirt and tie with stripes that are wide as closely as gingham checks.
The example above shows how ties stripes and checks of the shirt are almost the same in size. Do not use too small patterns. They will be hard to distinguish and your style will look messy and chaotic.
Mixing three patterns
Now we are entering the danger zone. You have to have some experience in mixing patterns so that you can pull off three patterns mixing. If you don’t do it right you will look silly, and you have to be confident that you can wear three patterns. Not everybody likes it and if it is not your style don’t do it. Two patterns are quite enough.
If you are brave enough you can try wearing three different patterns that are same in size. Like herringbone suit, checked shirt and striped tie. Make sure all patterns are close in size.
You can go with two same patterns and one different. Like Glen plaid (Prince of Wales) suit, gingham shirt and striped tie. In this case you should separate in size two same patterns.
For example you can wear large check suit, small check shirt and large stripe tie, or large stripe shirt, small stripe suit and polka dot tie. Keep in mind that the two same patterns have to be different in size.
If you take a look at the example above you will see how it should be done. The suit has large checks, tie has the same pattern but much smaller and is close in size with the stripes of the shirt and dots of the pocket square.
You can go with two solid colored elements, like suit and shirt and add patterned tie. In this case you can play with colors.
If you are inexperienced in mixing patterns, start small. Add one pattern and when you are comfortable add another. If you are feeling brave add third one. What ever you do, you have to feel good in your combination and you have to know how to wear it. You have to have confidence in your style otherwise it will not suit you and you will not feel comfortable in it, meaning it is not for you and you should scale down.