How to Mix Prints Without Looking Crazy

If you mix prints well, it can be a lot of fun. If you aren’t thoughtful about it, it can make you look like a 6 year old. Here’s what you need to know to keep from being that 6 year old…

Challenge 1: Unity

The biggest challenge when you are mixing prints is creating a sense of unity, and the bigger and bolder the prints you use, the harder you are going to have to work to establish unity.  You can do this using any of the elements, but the easiest way to do this is either to repeat the same color palette in each print, like this:

Or use the same print (or a very similar print) in two different colors. Like with this Diane Von Furstenberg piece…

Challenge 2: Balance

It can be hard to keep a visual balance if you are using prints that vary in value or scale.  Think about the visual weight of each piece.  A print with a larger scale typically carries more visual weight, and darker colors carry more weight.  So if you do a larger and darker print on bottom, you will need to balance that out somehow. One way is to throw a something else dark on top, like this girl:   

Cheat: “Neutral Prints”

Some prints, like stripes, polka dots, or or naturally-colored animal prints, can be used as neutrals, in which case you can be a bit more lax about incorporating that piece into your color or pattern scheme.  Like this:

There are a lot of ways to maintain unity and balance while mixing prints it can get really sophisticated and abstract, but stick to the easy stuff until you get the hang of it.  If you are going to do two large prints, maybe stick with a black and white color palette.  Or if you are going to do color, maybe keep one of the prints very small so that the emphasis stays on the larger print. And don’t forget to have fun and keep a sense of humor with it.

Thanks to Early Pants-Wearers

In most parts of the world, women only started wearing pants within the last 100 years. I really hate wearing dresses so this is my tribute to the women who blazed the trail for me.

Wigan pit brow girls wore skirts over their trousers and rolled them up to their waist to keep them out of the way during their dangerous work in the coal mines. They were quite a scandalous for Victorian society.

Britain’s first female football team caused a stir in the 1880’s when they wore their knickerbockers.

Suffragettes like this one wore a marching costume that included pants underneath a skirt.

Marlene Dietrich often wore tails and pants in the 1920’s, which was unheard of at that time.

Other women may have worn pants, but Katharine Hepburn was the first to make them chic.   Her production studio got so annoyed that they confiscated her trousers in an attempt to force her to wear a skirt.  Kate responded by defiantly strolling around the studio lot in her underwear. Point for Kate.

Ugh.. I almost hate to put her in here because in the few movies I’ve seen her in, her early Manic Pixie Dream Girl thing drove me crazy. But anyways… thanks for popularizing these pants..

Elements and Principles of Design

I think people would have a lot more fun with fashion and be less afraid of it if we thought about it more in the terms of the elements and principles of design. The elements/principles provide a framework for analyzing the aesthetics of an outfit. The fun part is finding an interesting way to use the elements to apply, stretch, or challenge the principles. I couldn’t find an authoritative list of the elements/principles anywhere, so I tried to combine the multiple sources I found to make a decent list, and here’s the best I could come up with.  If anyone knows a better one, please let me know!

ELEMENTS:

Line: This includes lines that are on the fabric (like stripes) and the line that is created by the edge of garments.

Form/Silhouette: Form is any three dimentional object.  Form can be organic or geometric. I’m not sure whether Silhouette should fall under line or form, but either way, it’s the outline created by the clothing.

Color: Color has three main characteristics: hue or its name (red, green, blue, etc.), value (how light or dark it is), and intensity (how bright or dull it is)

Shape: defined as an area that stands out from the space next to or around it due to a defined or implied boundary, or because of differences of value, color, or texture

Texture: the way a surface feels or is perceived to feel. Texture can attract or repel interest to an element, depending on the pleasantness of the texture.

PRINCIPLES:

Balance: Balance is the a state of equalized tension and equilibrium, which may not always be calm. It relates to our physical sense of balance, and creates visual stability.  Balance can take multiple forms, including symmetrical, asymmetrical, radial, mosaic.

Proportion: Proportion refers to the relative size and scale of the various elements in a design. The issue is not just the size of an element, but the relationship between objects, or parts, of a whole. Viewing distorted proportions typically makes people feel uncomfortable.

Rhythm: Rhythm creates an easy, connected path along which the eye follows a regular arrangement of motifs. The presence of rhythm creates predictability and order in a composition.

Emphasis:It marks the locations which most strongly draw the viewers attention. Usually there is a primary point of emphasis, possibly with secondary emphases in other parts of the composition. The emphasis is usually an interruption in the fundamental pattern or movement of the viewers eye through the composition, or a break in the rhythm

Unity: Unity is the underlying principle that summarizes all of the principles and elements of design. It refers to the coherence of the whole, the sense that all of the parts are working together to achieve a common result; a harmony of all the parts

Contrast & Variety: (maybe): These was on quite a few lists, but not all. It seems to me to be somewhere in between an element and a principle. Basically the gist is that too little contrast/variety is boring, but too much can be overwhelming and/or distracting.

Salvador Dali/Elsa Schiaparelli Collaboration…..

I read that Elsa Schiaparelli (an italian clothing designer famous in the 1920s-40s and said to be the great rival of Coco Chanel) had done a couple clothing items in collaboration with Salvador Dali. Naturally, I was really excited to see what two such amazing minds had come up with. I even called my boyfriend over to check them out with me, since he (like every other male) loves Salvador Dali. Some of the pieces even have cool names like “the lobster dress” and “the skeleton dress,” while others have names that seem less promising like “shoe hat.”  So when I looked them up, all I could say was WTF???? Am I missing something…

The Lobster Dress: Wallis Simpson actually wore this dress in a photo shoot. I think feel like this dress should have been named “Lobster Crotch.”

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The Tears Dress: This is Dali-loving boyfriend’s favorite one. Maybe the tears remind him of the existential isolation of something or other?

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The Skeleton Dress: I guess this is my favorite.. but still I’m not so sure. Plus, why does this mannequin have scoliosis?

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Shoe Hat: Welp… I don’t know what else I was expecting.

Workmanship

Today I’m in love with clothing that has the kind of beautiful skilled workmanship that you know can only be a labor of love. Looking at that kind of workmanship makes me feel connected to the person who created it.  As if we are the only two people in the world who know what kind of care and effort went into the making of that garment, and as if I’m saying thank you by taking the time to marvel at how wonderful it is.

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