9/9 How to Use Patterns Like a Style Guru

We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post. By clicking on the links and making a purchase, you're helping to support the site so we can keep bringing you badass ideas.

Affiliate Disclaimer New
Nordstrom Classic Cashmere Sport Coat

Classic Cashmere Sport Coat, $348.98 from Nordstrom

“To achieve the nonchalance, which is absolutely necessary for a man, one article at least must not match.”

– Hardy Amies, Fashion Designer

Patterns can be a tricky style element—do it wrong and you might end up looking like a character from Alice in Wonderland. There are some pretty simple rules regarding patterns, and how to mix them, that most style icons follow.

  1. A Little Goes a Long Way: The safest way to wear patterns any time is to use them sparingly. A tie, scarf, hat or even socks are a great and easy way to do this.
  2. The Bold & the Minimal: If you’re wearing a lot of one pattern or perhaps one that’s incredibly strong, make sure the rest of your outfit is toned down and neutral. Pull out a subtle tone within the fabric and set a foundation with that color. This will help you avoid looking clown-ish.
  3. Mix & Match: When mixing patterns, make sure you pair a large pattern with a smaller, more obscured one. For instance, say you’re wearing a gingham button-up and want to wear a patterned tie, too. Go for something within the same color palette and has a smaller pattern, like small polka dots or a very fine texture. This keeps things balanced.

Now that we’ve gone through some of the rules, here are some great inspirations for a bit of pattern play.

The Patterned Suit

Neiman Marcus Last Call Hugo Boss Modern-Fit T-Howard2/Court Wool-Blend Two-Piece Suit w/Plaid Print, Open Blue

Hugo Boss Modern-Fit T-Howard2/Court Wool-Blend Two-Piece Suit $993.75 from Neiman Marcus Last Call

Checks and Polka Dots
Mix a Polka Dot Shirt with a Checked Bow Tie

Power Checks Bow Tie, $19 from The Tie Bar


Isaac Mizrahi Navy Dotted Slim Dress Shirt, $19.99 from Century 21

Gingham and Paisley

Pair Gingham with Paisley

Smart Care Gingham Dress Shirt, $39.90 from Nordstrom


Refinado Floral Tie, $19 from The Tie Bar

Mens Wearhouse Gingham and Pocket Square

Suit, Shirt and Pocket Square from The Men’s Wearhouse

Multi-Pattern Outfit Tie Bar

Accessories available from The Tie Bar

Are you brave enough for the wild world of patterns? Share some of your inspirations with us in the comments.

Ryan Moonlights as a guest blogger for BAB. His day trade is as a wordsmith for Michaels (yes, the crafting megastore). Outside the wild world of word-slinging, Ryan finds his joy in a pint glass full of hoppy beer, a good Stetson, an untidy bowtie, and murder mysteries. Follow him on Instagram @jellybeanmagician; view his shopping addiction on Pinterest @mistery</a?; and find his other work at ryan-creery.squarespace.com