As an artist I know the importance of creating the impression of texture with brush strokes, or in my case, pastel marks. Painters use layers of brushwork to create texture, dimension and mood. Pattern is like the brushwork in a painting. The color and composition are what your eye notices first, but the brushwork creates atmosphere. A subtly striped fabric, like a brush stroke or chalk mark on a painting, adds texture. The sleeves of a striped t-shirt can peek out from beneath a short sleeved cardigan, or a floral scarf can add softness at the neckline.
In fact, it isn’t hard to mix interesting patterns and textures. Don’t worry about doing it wrong; your eye will tell you if it is pleasing or it clashes. You can express yourself freely as long as you are aware of the juxtaposition of color, scale, and proportion. When creating a painting or an outfit you need to direct the eye to a focal point. The trick is coming up with a flattering combination that focuses on your face as the “center of interest.” When combining prints and patterns pay attention to how the eye moves throughout the outfit. If it stops at the big flower image mid-body, looking at your face will be an afterthought. Every painting has a focal point, and too much “brushwork” or contrast draws attention away from where you want the viewer’s eye to go.
You can tie the outfit together and bring your face into focus by repeating the use of a color. Connect the dots to the “red” of your lipstick or to a gemstone earring that matches your eye color. Try either a scarf or necklace to put the color and emphasis right where you need it. Anchor a splashy eye-catching statement print with a cardigan in a solid color. Use layers and variety to keep the eye moving to your focal point.
If you can use throw pillows to accent a couch or you know how to set an interesting table, you can mix patterns and textures. Once you break out of your usual habit of putting only solid colors together, you’ll see that opportunities for mixing patterns are everywhere. Have fun creating new combinations with clothes and accessories you already own!