The art of mixing patterns with clothing isn’t dissimilar to mixing ingredients in a dish. You add ingredients and garnishes as you become a more experienced cook. Try and do too much at once, and you will most likely end up using Tabasco for your pasta (Gasp, say the Indian parents! That is standard protocol!) and end up rendering all creative culinary pursuits null and void. In an instant. Gone. Similar deal with mixing and matching of ties with your suits and shirts. Try and climb up the sartorial ‘ladder’ too quick, and you might just fall right back down to earth quicker than you can say ‘stripes’. So with the notion established that gradual progression is the way to build up your sense of flair, let’s take a look at what works, and most likely, what won’t (Hint: Craig Sager, my idol).
Two Similar Patterns
If you have been newly initiated into Sartorial Land, similar patterns can help ease some of that confusion. While not the most sexy, similar patterns can provide both congruency and an element of contrast at the same time. Narrow striped shirts are well complemented by wider striped ties, and windowpane shirts can be accessorized with smaller check ties.
Two Different Patterns
Two different patterns can work wonders (can mean two different patterns over your three piece ensemble) provided that there is an element of contrast with regard to proportions. A small animal motif with a tiny checkered shirt will most likely not work, but a wider striped tie on a narrow pinstriped suit and a smaller checkered shirt could produce a pronounced effect. Or as in the case below, an abstract tie on a checkered shirt and suit.
Bringing it all together with three patterns
Mixing and matching three patterns requires a discerning eye. If pulled off correctly, you’ve created a head turner. Done wrong, however, and you’ll have heads being scratched. With three different patterns, you need to maintain proportions and effect so that you don’t overdo congruency and you don’t exaggerate differences. There has to be a fine line, and it takes fine tuning to get there. Have fun with your sartorial pursuits!
And that’s a wrap. As always, comments and suggestions are welcome!
Check out some of our favorite ties at The Dark Knot!