Pattern Clashing Gives Me a Rush I Can't Resist—5 Ways I'm Wearing Them

The outfits I've been finding the most enviable lately are those that incorporate different patterns to create a one-of-a-kind perspective that reflects the wearer's personality and/or mood. With each clash comes a unique feeling, which is a rush I will forever seek when it comes to fashion. After all, what is fashion other than a tool to outwardly express your inner self in all its emotional, intuitive, and sometimes contradictory glory? After a couple of months sitting idly, I decided to dig deeper and figure out exactly how to reliably pull off this trend. 

I started by throwing all my patterned clothing on my bed to see what I had to work with, and the pieces with similar energy almost immediately became apparent. In my attempt to fashion emotion from clothes, I came up with the below five outfits that will set the stage for all the pattern combinations your heart desires.

Whether it's color strategy, tried-and-tested silhouettes, or patterns that seem to go with everything, keep scrolling to get all my tips for creating your own unique pattern-clashing looks, because you *are* the moment.

Scarf Top + Shorts

Mixing patterns in fashion in 2021: scarf top and shorts

Photo:

@banniakabread; STYLING: Tough Headwear Large Bandana ($5); Reclaimed Vintage Bandana Print Short ($32)

Nothing says summer to me more than this outfit combo. It's definitely a key element of my summer uniform. I mean, who doesn't love a scarf top? I think part of the fun of this outfit is that almost all patterns can work together in this silhouette. The trick here is to balance a loud element with one that is more chill, which also happens to be a life lesson.

Orange always packs a punch.

The thick elastic waistband provides the shape you need for these light and flowy shorts. This pattern will go with everything!

Loving the unique cut of this top.

The gold detail doubles as a necklace, which I love.

This A-line cut is beautiful. Beam me up, Scotty.

Second-Skin Top + Slip Dress

Mixing patterns in fashion in 2021: second skin top and slip dress

Photo:

@banniakabread; STYLING: ASOS Design Mesh Top; Zara Cheetah Slip Dress; Urban Outfitters Grommet Belt ($29)

I always end up wearing slip dresses with something underneath, partially due to not loving strapless bras and partially due to feeling a little exposed. Regardless, I continue to lean into these dresses for their easy, timeless appeal. For these reasons, I am a pro at the second-skin-top-and-slip-dress combination in particular. When it comes to finding synergetic second-skin tops, in my research, I've found that geometric patterns work best.

This brown gingham print against brown skin would look so cool.

Shop more second-skin tops and slip dresses:
Preen by Thornton Bregazzi Cleo Cutout Top

Geometric patterns layer super well.

This oversize print is a winner. 

Something about this dress says heartbreaker—don't ask me why.

I would turn this into my own Yayoi Kusama–inspired masterpiece and wear it with a colorful polka-dot mesh top.

Mock-Neck Top + Printed Denim

Mixing patterns in fashion in 2021: mock neck top and printed denim

Photo:

@banniakabread; STYLING: vintage top; Urban Outfitters Tie Dye Jeans ($79); Vans Checkerboard Slip-On ($55)

Okay, this is where we start to get more experimental. We're now in the pattern-clashing test kitchen, so to speak. I chose to combine classic baggy pants and a mock-neck top as the entrée simply because these are some of my favorite shapes at the moment, but we could have easily played this game with skirts, shorts, long sleeves, halter tops, etc. 

A major hack when pattern clashing is to wear color-block patterns, which earns you more freedom when pairing the patterns themselves. Here, I paired an orangey-red top with green pants—a combination no one may have seen coming. This is definitely a trial-and-error approach that is sure to uncover new outfits you may not have otherwise thought of.

This masterpiece is on sale.

Rihanna was recently spotted in green tie-dye pants, so we are basically friends.

A legend, an icon—these never get old.

Shop more mock neck tops & printed denim:
Kitty Joseph Stripe Pleated High-Neck Top

Wow, I'm seriously shook at this gradient!

Nineties-inspired popcorn tops are everything! They are so dynamic. Plus, the layering possibilities are endless.

I would style these with other subdued colors to match their energy.

Plaid is always a good decision.

These look like clouds at sunset. Heart eyes.

Button-Down Shirt + Biker Shorts

Mixing patterns in fashion in 2021: button-down shirt and biker shorts

Photo:

@banniakabread; STYLING: Nike Sports Bra ($23); Meilidress Biker Shorts ($15); ASOS Design Gingham Shopping Bag ($13)

In New York, the work-to-drinks outfit reigns supreme. In L.A., it's all about the exercise-to-brunch outfit. To keep things interesting, I always look for patterned biker shorts that can potentially (maybe?) be taken for non-workout attire. Throw on a clashing button-down shirt and some jewelry, and you can't tell me this ain't a full look. 

A cheetah-print shirt is the gift that keeps on giving. I've been wearing mine with just about everything for five-plus years.

Some call it a sports bra; I call it a crop top.

You can get away with wearing these with so many things because, at the end of the day, they are black-and-white shorts.

This bag is the perfect size for a day of errands and then fun. 

Shop more button-down shirts and biker shorts:
Kenzo Printed Camp Shirt

Kenzo just gets it. This pixelated rose print is quietly lush.

The sweet flower embellishments make this top fancy enough to wear to formal events, especially layered over more prints.

I mean, the complimentary belt makes these perfect. I'd wear them with a vintage tee and kitten heels.

This print gives you a beautiful color palette to work with.

I'm still not over mini bags, and this one is the cutest companion.

Shirred Top + Printed Pant

Mixing patterns in fashion in 2021: shirred top and printed pant

Photo:

@banniakabread; STYLING: Native Youth Shirred Gingham Top ($32); Zara Floral Cardigan ($46)

When all else fails, stick to the same color palette when pairing patterns in your closet. This strategy works just like it would if you were going for a monochromatic look, just with more dimension and spice. Shirred tops are a new favorite of mine for their ability to add additional texture to your outfit and for their figure-hugging capabilities. Choose a color and go crazy. Trust me. It will all come together in the end.

Dimension is the key word here. Gingham comes through in 2D, while shirring adds a 3D pattern to the mix. 

Understated prints like this one can easily be thrown on without feeling over-the-top.

Shop more shirred tops and printed pants:
River Island Shirred Cami Top

The corset bust and shirred waist make this a super-flattering top.

If you're going to do it, you might as well go for it. This is a piece of art.

This pair of buttery snakeskin pants is an automatic purchase. For this price, it doesn't get any better.

This is giving "I'm a pop star, not a doctor, yuh."

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