How to Mix Patterns and Look Sharp


I remembering hearing “if you don’t want to look like a clown, don’t mix your patterns.” Most guys are comfortable putting together solid ties and striped shirts or pairing a patterned shirt with a solid tie.  Forget what your mother told about the evils of mixing patterns and put aside your fear of looking like a clown. If you keep in mind a couple of simple rules, you can look sharp in a very dynamic combination of mixed patterns.

Before you decide to mix your patterns, remember this:

Opposites attract. If you have a dark shirt, then go for a lighter tie. Unless you’re going monochromatic, contrast is always a good thing

Decide who is boss.  Two strong patterns together comes across more like a shouting match than beautiful dissonance.  Look for dominant/subtle combinations. Much like good design, you should decide where your focus point is. When everything screams “look at me!” you create visual clutter. That’s how you get the clown effect.

Beyond silk. Silk ties are great, but find new textures and fresh expression in wool and cotton ties. These look great specially in a skinny tie. Don’t be afraid to go beyond the predictable.

 how to mix patterns for men

how to mix patterns for men shirts and ties
How do you feel about mixing patterns? Do you like this look?

Posted on
By Maurilio Amorim


  • Steven Shantz

    Thank God for Fashion Friday!  I really like this look.  It takes you beyond the predictable to a look thats pleasing and interesting to the eye.  I also like the idea of cotton or wool ties.  I would never have thought to try this, but probably will in the future.

    • Steve, wool ties and plaid shirts sounds like a Canadian fashion dream.

  • Love it!  I’ve always had a hard time mixing patterns and colors.  In the 80’s I was all into matching.   But I’m learning to retrain my brain.  I don’t have much occassion to wear ties, but I still love them, especially now that the skinny ties are back.  But boy they can be expensive.  Most I’ve seen are around $59.  I did, however, see some at the Green Hills mall for $39 (can’t remember which store).

    • Bret, I found Ben Sherman skinny ties at the T.J. Max’s in Brentwood for $12. Score!!

  • Thanks for being the voice on this – when it goes wrong – it is REALLY wrong. 
    When done correctly – the impact is amazing.
    I know this is a guy thing…but after 22 years of fashion retail….I couldn’t help myself.

    • I know what you mean, Tami. There’s a guy at my gym that if mixing wrong patterns were a crime, he would get life in prison without parole.

      If you want to see patterns going REALLY wrong just visit the NRB floor and you’ll find fashion train wrecks everywhere.

    • These are really good, I don’t have a good eye for them but appreciate when they are mixed well !

  • I love the idea of mixing patterns, I’ve just never been all that good at it. The pictures you included are a huge help for me! Thanks!

    • A picture is worth a thousand words specially when it comes to fashion.

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