Clash happy

Want to pull off mixed prints like a fashionista? We ask Cosmo’s fashion director Nicole Adolphe for the dos and do nots...

Print-on-print is guaranteed to look loud so you have to be pretty confident to pull it off. But if you get it right it’s an easy and fun way to look instantly fashion-forward. Plus, you don’t even necessarily have to buy anything new; you just need to think about fresh combinations using the pieces you already have. Got a well-loved floral blouse and a printed skirt you’ve owned for years? Try combining them – see, easy, that’s clashing prints right there. It also helps to have some style savvy, which is why we’ve asked fashion director Nicole Adolphe about the dos and don’ts of pulling off double-pattern wears.

To clash prints in one outfit:

Select a theme. Try to pick two prints that have one colour in common, like a floral print with a purple base, clashed with another print that has some purple in it. Tying in tonally-coordinated pieces, pulls the whole outfit together, as seen below.

Play it safe in neutral territory. If in doubt, pick a bright digital print and team it with a simpler black and white print. Choosing a neutral colour as a home base will help you avoid looking like a bad trip at a rave party. It will also make it a safer choice and tie it all in nicely.

Keep it structured. Having strong, tailored lines will help show the figure underneath, too much flow and you won’t be able to see the legs for the abstract pattern and the combination of loads of material and bold prints will overwhelm you.

Play with proportion and fabric. If you’re wearing tight, patterned jeans, trying pairing them with a sheer, looser top. Or rocking a flowing maxi skirt? Wear it with a fitted print cami. The distinction between shapes and textures will help make you look chic, not like one big printed mess – you need some contrast in your look if you’re going to the print-extreme.

Use the same print in different colours or scales. If you’re going for a standard pattern like polka dot, this is an easy way to match up.

Clash prints using accessories. Don’t want to wear a patterned top and bottom? Try clashing leopard print shoes with floral pants or a graphic print bag with a polka dot top. You get the picture.

To avoid fashion fails, don't:

Mix animal prints. Unless Euro trash is your personal style, keep animal prints separate or you’ll look like a cougar. You’ve been warned.

Do pattern overkill. Use prints for only two pieces in your outfit to avoid creating a sensory overload for passers-by. Pull it together with a monochrome blazer and other simple pieces.

Leave the house without looking in a mirror. Clashing prints is an art form and even the experts can get it wrong. If you try things out first, you won’t have to spend the whole day hiding in your cubicle if you discover you hate your outfit. Sometimes instincts can be off, so do yourself a favour and test it out.

With these tips, go forth and work it, while all the girls wonder how you pull off such bold combinations.