Stories / September 2019

How to clash patterns for autumn

Five ways to clash patterns this autumn and not look like you’re being ironic.

You might not think there would be much to an article entitled "How to clash patterns". After all, you take two different patterns, wear them at the same time, and what do you know, you're clashing patterns! Well, if it were only that simple. True, it is very easy to wear patterns of a vastly dissimilar nature, or indeed patterns of a similar style but different palette, but not so easy to make them seem part of a cohesively abstract look. Yes, looking 'ironic' is simple, but it's also shit if you pardon my French. Far harder to take two or more strong patterns and be able to play them off against each other in a way that makes people think "that looks so good on him but I would never be able to pull that off." The fact is anyone can - it's just the matter of following some simple rules to clash patterns effectively...

Work with your boldest pattern. If you've got a favourite bold check coat, then don't try to outshine it with a red check shirt or tartan trousers. Give the coat its 15 minutes of fame. Instead complement it with a muted check, or pinstripe or chalkstripe suit, or some herringbone trousers in a contrasting colour. Understand what the statement pattern is that you're wearing and work around that.

Mix patterns of different scales. This works perfectly with monochrome looks and checks. For example, that favourite navy chalkstripe suit of yours? Pair it white a much bolder pinstripe over coat and a diagonally striped tie. That way, no single pattern is fighting the other. Equally, when clashing checks, mix big windowpane styles with micro-checks, or plaid in bold colours with a much more muted check.

Invert the colours. Another good solution for injecting some life into pinstripe suiting. If your suit is navy with a white stripe then opt for a shirt, tee or even knit that is white with navy stripes.

Accessorise with patterns. If you have a bold check sweater, you can add it to the patterns you are already wearing just by tying it around your waist to break up your look or by draping it over your shoulders. Ties and pocket squares can be equally clash-worthy. A check suit or jacket is always ripe for a polka-dot pocket square or  geometric tie.

Texture is pattern. A strong texture such as suede, perforated leather, or a classic knit such as Arran can definitely be counted as a pattern. They have enough textural difference to stand out so think of them as such and clash accordingly.

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Ryan Thompson