Breaking Up Is Hard to Do: Saying Goodbye to Old School Rules

If, like me, you’re looking at 40, 50… or even 60, in your rear view mirror, or if you were raised and dressed by someone from those decades, you probably remember all the rules and regulations that came with getting dressed. “No white after Labor Day!” “Shoes and purses must match!” “Never wear black and brown together!” The list went on and on. But, we all knew the rules. They were drilled into us by the time we were old enough to buckle our own patent leather shoes.

Well, times have changed, and so have the rules. In fact, DUCK, because, in some cases, the rule book just flew right out the window! But, for some of us, breaking up with our rules can be hard! We spent a lot of years remembering when not to wear white and learning how to match our shoes to our purses, and we don’t want to give that up! It’s what we know, what we’re comfortable with. Unfortunately, when we live by those rules we no longer look chic and stylish as we once did. It can now age us, looking older than we need to, and leaving us with a sense of being out of touch. For the next several weeks we’re going to take a look at a few of those old school rules, see how they’ve changed and how you can easily apply the new look into your own wardrobe.

Old School Rule #1 – NEVER MIX DIFFERENT PRINTS
Our base outfit with the first print of the paisley kimono

When I was growing up, putting different prints together was a fashion no-no! It was thought to be too busy… too much for the eye to see. No more, baby! The street style scene is all about print mixing! Florals and stripes…polka dots and Ikats…. take your pick! Done correctly, just about anything goes! But, it can be intimidating when you’re new to it. I know it was for me when I first started mixing prints. First, let me say there are LOTS of great articles out there to help you learn how to mix prints well. Even just spend some time perusing Pinterest or some fashion blogs and watching how others do it will really give you some great insight into what works well together.

The second print we’ll add, our “neutral” leopard bag

The way I dipped my toe into print mixing, and what I believe is the easiest way to get started, is to begin with leopard print. Leopard print is actually a neutral – basic brown and basic black. When you treat it as nothing more than a neutral, completely ignore the idea of a print, you can pair it with anything you’d like. It takes all the stress away. Start with something small – a leopard belt or scarf or bag – then, you’ll feel more comfortable moving up into larger pieces.

I’ve used pictures here from a thrifting challenge this past week on Instagram where I demonstrated this exact concept. I’ve paired a paisley kimono – swirls of tangerine, brown, green, yellow, ivory, purple – and added a leopard print bag. The leopard print immediately elevates the style to something fresher and more modern than if I had chosen simply a brown or even orange bag, both of which would have “gone”, but would not have had the level of sophistication that mixing patterns adds to your look.

The final grouping with the kimono and the leopard print together

The kimono and the bag work wonderfully together, but this would work just as well if my kimono were a hot pink and purple paisley or red tartan. The leopard stands as a neutral always and, thus, goes with any other pattern you pick.

Side tip: This also works for camo! Camo is also a standing neutral and can be paired with pretty much any other pattern you wish to put with it. Camo and military are very trendy right now, as well, so this would be a great time to have fun with that!

What is your take on print mixing? Have you dipped your toe into the pool yet? Does it make you nervous or are you an old pro by now?

4 Comments

  1. jodie filogomo

    This was a hard one for me, Ronnie!!
    Although once I came to the conclusion that interior designers did it all the time in rooms they were designing, I started to think about it more!!
    And now, I consider it fun and challenging!! Not that I do it everyday, but at least once a week!!
    Love your outfit and that leopard purse?? Fabulous!!
    XOXO
    Jodie
    http://www.jtouchofstyle.com

  2. tim_ronnie@yahoo.com

    It made me nervous at first, too! So, contrary to how I was raised! Janeane at DFMC was a big help for me on this one – she really made me want to take the leap because she does it so very well! I probably do it along the same lines you do – about once a week or so, though I often try to use a scarf on my purse as an additional accessory and use it as an extra pattern, as well.

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