Patterns and Prints and Palettes, Oh My! Part 1

by Kathleen Audet, AICI

You can count on patterns to add visual interest and variety to your wardrobe. So what kinds of patterns are there and how do you mix them?

There are over 250 patterns in the world of prints and patterns and motifs–with names like quatrafoil, zalij, ikat and cartouche. For the sake of clarity, let’s focus on just 7 that we see the most in stores and online, and I’ll show you what they look like and how to mix them.

1. The most common pattern is stripes.

But not all stripes are created equal. They have names such as pin, chalk, pencil, balanced, Bayadere, Bengal, hairline, regimental, roman, and awning.

Yep. That’s a whole lotta stripes.

2. The second most common pattern is checks.

They go by names such as gingham, tartan, glen, houndstooth, shepherd, tattersall, graph, chequer, district, houndstooth, herringbone, mini, pincheck, windowpane, and twill.

Some patterns, called “weaves,” are part of the fabric construction rather than printed on the fabric itself. Herringbone and twill are two such patterns that, due to their construction, appear to be solid colors from afar. This makes them ideal for button-down shirts and suits.

3. Dots are a classic American favorite.

There are polka dots, pin dots, coin dots, dotted Swiss and “Birdseye” dots, a popular suiting fabric as it appears to be a solid color from a distance. Generally, smaller dots are used in more formal clothing while larger dots give a more casual impression.

4. Floral patterns are definitely on trend for 2018.

Technically, floral designs are those that showcase flowers and other natural elements such as seed pods, leaves and marine plants. Small, closely spaced florals can almost appear as a solid fabric while large patterns in bold bright colors can announce your presence.

5. Paisley patterns are an perennial favorite.

This stylized, teardrop-shaped design originated in Persia and was later mass-produced in Paisley, Scotland, giving the pattern its name.

6. Animal prints are always in style.

Whether you choose a pattern that resembles the skin and fur of a leopard, cheetah, zebra, tiger, spotted hyena, striped hyena, African wild dog, giraffe or monkey, animal prints are easily mixed and matched with other patterns.

7. Stylized patterns are unique.

They combine several different patterns to create totally new ones that appear as abstract customized prints.

That’s it for Patterns 101. But how do you mix and match them for the most stylish personal look? Stay tuned for next week’s blog on How to Style Prints and Patterns with Ease.

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