As fashion trends come and go, it’s fun to see which ones leave as quickly as they came and which ones stick around for a while. For 2021, one style trend that’s been sticking around and gaining more and more popularity is the use of patterns and prints. While wearing solid colors is still a stylish option, isn’t it more fun to wear prints that add a bit of life to an outfit and let your personality shine through? Florals, animal prints, stripes, polka dots, and more are just begging to be shown off. But what if you want to wear more than one at the same time? While the fashion police won’t be issuing any citations for this trend, there are a few pointers that could help you layer your favorite patterned apparel in style. Here are our tips.
When layering patterns, one helpful pointer is to choose what to layer by color. A pattern in a red color can look great layered with a completely different pattern in the same red color. But keep in mind, however, that the colors don’t necessarily have to match, although if they both have elements of the same color family, they’re more likely to look like they belong together. For example, a shirt with turquoise waves on it won’t look out of place under a cardigan sweater that has green polka dots on it. Also, keep in mind that greys, whites, and blacks match pretty much every color, so any patterns in those more neutral colors will typically layer well with anything. Try the look by wearing a patterned button-down shirt under a sweater and letting only the collars and cuffs show.
Wearing a pattern under or over something solid in color is likely to be a great fit, providing the main colors match, as mentioned above. For example, a solid blazer over a patterned sleeveless blouse looks very stylish—especially if you have to dress up for work. But if you’re going to layer a pattern with something solid, it can also be fun to add a patterned accessory to the outfit. For example, a fashion scarf or purse in the same pattern as the blouse can add a special touch to the whole ensemble. Chunky enamel earrings and bangles that are patterned can make an impact as well.
A little more daring than layering patterns with solids is layering patterns with similar patterns. For example, you may have a tunic with tiny red flowers on it. Wouldn’t it look great over a pair of leggings with a larger floral print on them, or vice versa?
Similarly, you could layer geometric patterns together, even if they’re completely different shapes. A blouse with a small triangle pattern tucked into a pair of checkered pants, for example, works because they sort of follow the same linear theme while also standing out on their own.
Another fun concept to consider when layering patterns in 2021 is choosing a nature theme for the entire outfit. Then let one item represent one element of nature with the other item representing another. For example, bees and flowers layered together have the same overall theme but stand out on their own. Additionally, an animal print item layered with an item that has little leaves or trees on it also works, mimicking the animal in its natural habitat. Have fun with all the different combinations.
The final tip for layering patterns in 2021 is to remember that rules are meant to be broken. Forgetting about the three tips mentioned above, feel free to go rogue and layer two patterns that other people might not think of. You may find that they look great together. For example, 90s grunge style taught us that it’s perfectly fine to layer a plaid flannel shirt over a paisley, lace blouse. It’s also OK to mix a checkered skirt with a graphic concert T-shirt. Opposites attract!
When layering patterns in your outfit, don’t forget your footwear. For example, patterned socks are fun to wear because they’re not as obvious as other parts of the outfit, but they still add something special to it. And wearing patterned socks with patterned flats or sneakers can brighten up an otherwise monochrome ensemble.
Bold patterns and bright colors have earned their place in the fashion scene this year. And when it comes to layering patterns in 2021, the most important tip is to have fun while doing it.