Fashion Magazine

Attire Club Mood Board: Prints and Patterns

By Attireclub @attireclub

Prints and patterns are great design elements that can add personality, style and energy to a look.

Definitions and practices

The difference between a print and a pattern is that a print is a graphic element that has a composition with a structure of its own. Think of it as a painting that has a main point, axes directing to it, supporting elements that balance it out and so on.

On the other hand, a pattern is a visual construction that can be repeated indefinitely. Basically, you can cover as much space with it repeating itself without creating any weird images.

Can a print become a pattern? Yes, of course, you can take an image and repeat it a million times, but many times it won’t look good. Of course, this depends on the size of the image itself and of the composition of the image: simple, minimal designs can be tiled better than complicated, embellished ones.

When speaking of patterns and prints, the term “texture” also comes up a lot. In fashion, a texture is an element that can be also felt, not just seen – it is embossed in other words.

The rules of prints and patterns

When it comes to wearing prints and patterns, there are a few rules you should consider. For example, if you are not sure how to approach them, you should always mix them with a neutral solid. In fashion, neutrals are a series of colors that go with any other color; so therefore, they will go with any print, regardless of the colors it features. Neutral colors are brown, gray, black, white, khaki, tan, ivory, beige, dark blue, etc. Otherwise, you can wear a print or a pattern with a piece replicating one of the colors featured in the print. If you are bold, you can even play with shades and tints, but be advised that that is hard to pull off. For example, if you wear a blue-green-teal print, you can mix it with a blue piece. For a safe bet, the shade of blue should be the exact same blue as the one featured on the print, or, for a wild ride, it can be a different shade.

You can also mix a print or pattern with a piece that would go in a color scheme with one of the main colors of the pattern. For example, a blue-green-teal print can be mixed with a yellow piece, as yellow is the complementary color for blue, and complementary color combos usually look great.

You can also mix prints and patterns and wear as many as you wish at one time. In this case, you should mix prints and patterns that are highly different in the size of their composing elements.

Of course, you can also mix very similar prints, but in that case, they should have an element that sets them apart strongly. For example, small black and white checkers would go with very brightly colored small checkers.

These are just general rules one should consider when mixing prints. On AC, we always encourage people to create their own rules, so if you can make it work, you should go for it. However, generally, when mixing prints that are very similar, one tends to look like an optical illusion and not in a good way.


Prints and patterns can truly style up any look. They are great elements to play with and designers often use them in their runway shows.

Take a look at some great prints and patterns featured in different fashion shows from around the world:

Strange, but in the best way possible. We love the play with childlike elements and mature ones. By Walter Van Beirendonck.
Ethnic,yet universal. By Valentino.
Mixing prints and patterns can also mean mixing ideas, elements and lives. Love the 80s / modern mix. By Moschino.

Anything goes if it's balanced out well. By Moschino.
Patterns featuring colors of the same shade will make you look very cohesive and stylish.  By Missioni
Rich and universal: Louis Vuitton.

A Comme des Garçons pattern mix like no other.
Comme des Garçons definitely knows how to work with contrast: love the high and low mix.
Pattern and texture. By Salvatore Ferragamo.

Subdued patterns can be mixed if they are highly elegant. By Giorgio Armani.
Green is a hard color to pull off, but Issey Miyake definitely made it work by mixing it with white.
Probably one of the greatest prints we've seen recently. Love the play with sizes, shapes and colors. By John Richmond

Gold can make even gray golden. By Brioni.

If you are looking for a way to convey more of who you are through your clothes, you should definitely consider a print or a pattern.

They will add dimension to your look and make you feel more like yourself, which is what fashion is all about.

Fraquoh and Franchomme

Further reading:

The complete guide to mixing patterns and prints

What are the different types of prints on clothes

How to wear 3 patterns or prints

Classic patterns: A complete guide

A quick guide to wearing animal prints

5 ways to wear an African print

The guide to wearing striped shirts with striped ties

How to wear a floral shirt

The guide to wearing paisley

A guide to coordinating the colors of your clothes (+examples)

The professional way to choose the colors of your clothes

P.S. We want to hear from you! Do you wear prints or patterns? What types of prints or patterns do you like? How do you wear your prints and patterns? Share your feedback, questions or thoughts in the comments below! For more articles on style, fashion tips and cultural insights, you can subscribe to Attire Club via e-mail or follow us on FacebookTwitter or Instagram!

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