Skip to main content
The M Dash

Live with purpose.

Creative Ways to Wear Pattern Without Clashing

10 Creative Ways to Wear Pattern Without Clashing

Unexpected looks that avoid clash—and might just end up saving you cash.

By Emma Steinbergs

In our Rewrite the Rules series, we lay out the basics of building—and maintaining—your ideal Power Casual wardrobe. This installment tackles a common getting-ready dilemma: Your outfit feels boring—but you can’t figure out why.

Is a fear of clashing keeping you from wearing that striped button-down with snake-print flats? Or those patterned pants with a top that really pops? Big mistake. The safer you play your pairings, the more your patterned pieces are going to cost you—literally.

Think about it: If you only wear prints with neutral, solid-colored items, you’re ignoring a whole section of your closet. But if you’re willing to experiment with more unexpected combinations, you’ll end up driving down your pieces’ price per wear (the cost of an item, divided by the total number of times you’ll wear it). Plus, mixing patterns with one another or pairing a pattern with bright color turns getting dressed into a fun little morning puzzle—like Wordle for your wardrobe.

Before you run for the hills, let us be clear: We’re not telling you to pair polka dots with paisley. A houndstooth blazer with an unexpected, brightly colored underpinning is more like it. Need some more examples? Scroll to see 10 outfits that will make you rethink how you wear pattern—for the benefit of your wardrobe and your wallet.


Go Wild with Animal Print

Cheetah print can pretty much function as a neutral, adding texture to your look without overpowering your outfit. In other words, it can accommodate soft yet striking hues like guava. Try the Saraha print Orchard skirt with the tie-front Darcy top, and complement your washable silk look with textured taupe slingbacks and a shiny gold earring.

Creative Ways to Wear Pattern Without Clashing
Creative Ways to Wear Pattern

Small Print, Big Opportunity

If you’re dealing with a black-and-white print that’s also small in scale, you can treat the piece as if it’s black. Why not brighten up your houndstooth Whitney skirt with the spring green Joya top? To keep the focus on your vivid hue of choice, stick with streamlined black flats and silver jewelry like the Claressa hoops and Blige necklace.


Follow the Pattern

Multi-colored prints may seem overwhelming to style, but they practically hand you pairings on a silver platter. Just pick your favorite hue in the pattern, then find a piece that matches it. For example, the rhythm-print Livingston shirt features a vibrant orange, so you could layer it over the clementine Paige tank. Balance out this duo with rich, warm neutrals on your bottom half: The saddle Foster pants and cognac Carter slides do the job.

How to Wear Pattern Without Clashing
How to Wear Pattern

The Subtle Triple Threat

This look is proof that stripes, an unexpected hue, and a printed flat can all coexist in one look. The key? Selecting subtle versions of all three components. The Mila button-down features a thin, understated stripe, while the Daria jeans showcase a neutral olive hue that coordinates with the snakeskin Rowan flats.


An Iconic Contrast

When an extra-bold print covers you from neck to knees, you don’t need much more in order to stand out. The Masha dress in icon print features a sharp, saturated contrast, so it looks especially lovely when juxtaposed with softer-hued styles like the Irene slingbacks in sky blue. Complete your cool-toned look with silver hoops.

Printed dress and contrasting shoes
how to wear pattern on pattern

Bold and Balanced

Again, bold speaks for itself, so if you want to incorporate a second pattern, opt for one that’s especially subtle. The swingy Zhou culottes in symphony print stand on their own but can also pair nicely with the delicate pattern of the Dolly jacket in gingham linen. Keep your look in check with simpler styles like the Paige tank and Carter slides.


Peacocking and Professional

Don’t be afraid to “peacock,” or lean into statement-making prints and eye-catching colors, in a professional setting. As long as you include at least one structured style in your outfit, you’ll still come off perfectly office-appropriate. Try the juicy-hued Moreland blazer over the peacock-print Nene dress—a machine-washable combination that’s a favorite of our founder and CEO, Sarah LaFleur. Finish it off with vintage-inspired gold earrings and flats that won’t overcomplicate your outfit.

peacock-print dress
sketchbook-floral and knit jacket

A Niftier Knit

Wearing a knit that combines multiple colors of yarn is a great way to get creative without clashing. Take the Lilia jacket in our Interweave knit, for instance. Crafted in Japan, this two-toned layer provides extra visual texture without overshadowing the star of the show: your sketchbook-floral DiemMy dress. Accessorize your event-ready ensemble with coordinating styles like the black Ella sandals and the pearly Lillie earrings.


Casual-ify Your Silk

Put your silk dress to work any day of the week by styling it with more casual—but still polished—items such as the chambray-like Nicky jacket and white leather sneakers. Add a pair of gold hoops, and continue to play with Power Casual combinations in order to drastically decrease your dress’s price per wear.

printed silk dress with plain jacket
Pop in Plaid outfit

Pop in Plaid

Plaid is classic—meaning it’s a commonly worn pattern. If you want to set your plaid pants apart, go for a bright shirt like the chartreuse Kara top in our super-smooth 365Knit. Our plaid sharkskin fabric happens to have a coordinating yellow stripe in it, but that’s not a prerequisite for you to pull off a plaid-plus-color look. As long as your plaid piece is primarily neutral, we say experiment with any hue that speaks to you. Just be sure to choose minimalist-leaning accessories like black flats and ivory earrings to avoid things getting too busy.

Written By

Emma Steinbergs

Emma is M.M.LaFleur's Brand Manager. She previously worked as an M.M. stylist and still loves thinking through styling challenges and solutions for customers.

See more of Emma's articles

Read on.

Back to Top