The Art of Mixing Patterns

Chances are you may have encountered this issue before … Be it the shirt and necktie conundrum of what patterns work together or trying to navigate assembling a check suit with just the right pair of stripe socks. The art of pattern mixing can be mastered by following a few simple rules.

To illustrate these style commandments we will be using the ubiquitous bow tie and its sidekick, the pocket square to show how pattern mixing can be effortless and effective. Plus we promise you will not end up looking like your 7th grade science teacher.

The idea with each of the following rules is that the bow and the square should compliment the entire look rather than overtake it. While some gents prefer to go the route of matching bow and square, these mix and match options will give you much more versatility.


Rule #1 Don’t Be Afraid to Play with Scale

Big dot, little dot. Large check, small check. As long as both patterns have harmonious colors, you’ve struck the proper balance. The key here is to make sure that in addition to the commonality of color, the scales of each pattern differ enough so they compliment each other rather than fighting for attention.


Rule #2 Positive/Negative Mixing is a Positive Thing

Rule #2 is pretty much a no brainer. If you have a print, check or stripe with a dark ground and the same pattern with the colors transposed then you are good to go.

Editor’s Note: Win this bow tie & pocket square from General Knot & Co. ($106 Value). Look for the contest box at the end of this article!


Rule #3 Mix/Match Patterns within the Same Color Palette

This one can be tricky, but when successfully pulled off, the pairing is probably the most interesting. This navy ground multi dot bow works well with the multi stripe square simply because the colors are shared in each of the patterns. Size of pattern is not really an issue and the bow’s navy ground feels “more solid” of the two pieces, keeping the combo visually interesting but not too busy.


Rule #4 Busy Colorful Patterns Don’t Overwhelm with a Solid Partner

Sometimes when you have an accessory that is a bit of a “Showboat”, it is best to let its sidekick take a backseat. In the case of this floral bow, pairing it with a solid square in one of the bow’s accent colors will keep your look sophisticated and clean.

Now that you are armed with these nuggets of fashion wisdom, you are equipped to impress even the most judgmental date, finicky boss or suspicious mother-in-law. Go forth and be stylish…


Here’s your chance to win this awesome bow tie & pocket square from the General Knot & Co.! One lucky reader will be selected on March 9th, 2015. Good luck!

Bowtie Giveaway


About the Authors

After years of directing creative teams for brands such as Ralph Lauren, Original Penguin, Tommy Hilfiger and Levi’s, co-founders Ann and Andrew Payne began General Knot & Co. in the fall of 2010 with the desire to combine a passion for design with an unyielding commitment to bringing conscientious quality manufacturing back to the United States.

Using rare and vintage fabrics curated through a global network of collectors, the Paynes design a limited edition line of menswear accessories for those individuals who are looking to make a unique impression with their individual style. Shop their full collection here.

“Doing what one loves to do is never considered work.”



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