Contrasting patterns are like eye-candy when it comes to outfits. It adds and eclectic and curious element to a look, and it leaves people staring (in a good way). There are some rules to follow when putting the ensemble together.
Simple to clustered or clustered to simple: When you have too similar of a different pattern in each garment, it can look a bit hectic and jarring. Stick to one busy pattern and one that is more spaced out and calm. In this look, I used this vintage Céline sweater from Mercy Vintage in Oakland, CA as the more spread out and calm color palette. The tight plaid stripes add a fun surprise. The red is the pop of color in the outfit, and the black and white stripes keep the color schemes compatible. (Shorts are also from Mercy Vintage.)
Pay attention to silhouettes: Different patterns can cause different body types to look bigger or smaller than they are. Larger polkadots make a small frame look smaller because of their broadness, horizontal stripes make people look larger around the waist, diamonds send the eye down the body because of their pointed end. Taking this into consideration, patterns do the same for silhouettes of garments. If you pair a small-printed-patterned pant with a large-print-pattern shirt, your legs will appear longer because there is more to look at. A-line dresses with small patterns appear to have a slimmer skirt because of the busy fabric while large patterns accentuate the skirt’s volume.
Color palette matters: Stick to colors that are alike, for example red, purple, and pink or complimentary colors like blue and orange or red and green. Similar colors tend to give a more expensive and sophisticated look, and complimentary colors express fun and vibrancy.
The “no rules” rule: With fashion being so free and “anything goes” at this time, just have fun with it. Wear what you are comfortable and confident in. Pattern matching is a great way to have fun with your style and can lead to many different outfits from one garment. Make sure to do it correctly, and look to more examples if needed!