Why wearing two different patterns to work is the ultimate power move

“When it comes to mixing prints I think the rules have changed! So my advice is to have fun with it, if you like the combination then wear it and own it!”

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Though wearing clashing patterns or colors was once only reserved for nerds in pop culture (i.e. Screech from Saved by the Bell) pairing two eccentric prints or colors is now considered a power move. It has even been blessed by the queen of fashion herself, Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour.

On the day of the Met Gala Wintour wore a green-and-gold-printed tea-length dress with tall snakeskin boots. That is two very different patterns but combined with her confidence, it absolutely worked. It has been dubbed power clashing and you should consider it. Michal Kors and Gucci’s creative director Alessandro Michele are also big fans of it.


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We recently saw that the atypical combination of pink and red can literally brighten your mood, so why not try pairing more bold colors like blue and red or purple and red, green (which sparks creativity) and pink, or orange and blue. What color you wear and the shape of your garment can drastically alter your mood.  A 2012 study by Professor Karen Pine from the psychology department at the University of Hertfordshire in Britain found that 62% wear their favorite bright dress when they are in a good mood.

Ashley Nelson, founder of the lifestyle blog On the 10, told Ladders, “When it comes to mixing prints I think the rules have changed! If you’re daring enough to go with pattern mixing then prints such as snakeskin and leopard now act as neutrals – they can go with just about anything, which I love. So my advice is to have fun with it, if you like the combination then wear it and own it!”

Also try varying the size of the prints. Choose a smaller one to pair with a larger one.

Lindsay Narain, founder and designer of the women’s label VAUGHAN, said in an interview, “Stripes in a complementary color palette will befriend your houndstooth without a second thought – especially if the two prints are contrasting in size (for example, a thick, bold stripe with a smaller houndstooth). Layer a striped sweater over your houndstooth blouse, or pair the latter with a horizontal striped skirt. If you keep it in the same color family, you can’t go wrong.”

But if two totally different patterns scares you, why not try different versions of the same pattern like plaid on plaid or stripes with stripes. Tory Sport has some great stripe ensembles to choose from.

You don’t have to go totally Camp themed like they did at this year’s Met Ball but you may be surprised at the boost of energy power clashing gives you.


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Meredith Lepore|is the Deputy Editor of Ladders and can be reached at mlepore@theladders.com.