Patterns are amazing. So here’s how you wear them to work:

Pattern size

This depends on your body shape and how tall you are. If you are petite go for a smaller pattern – for example pinstriped instead of wide strips. If you wear a large pattern it will look like your frame is getting overwhelmed by the pattern and that’s all people will see – no matter who is wearing it. If you’re tall and voluptuous you can go to town on how big your pattern is because your body silhouette can handle it. :-)

Pattern placement

This is important as it will turn into the focal point of your outfit. Just remember one top hint – wherever the pattern is that is where people’s eyes will be drawn to.

If you are new to wearing patterns, as a starting point, keep them close to your face as you always want people looking there first. This can be by way of a patterned scarf, skirt, top or jacket. Whatever item you decide to go for, keep it on your top half until you’re comfortable and then experiment from there. For example into a patterned dress or skirt.

Also keep your eye out for stripes. Stripes are a cute, classic print, which I have seen in a rainbow of colours and they are very easy to wear at work. :-)

If in doubt, keep to the classics

There are 8 basic patterns you can start from:

  • Pinstripes
  • Gingham
  • Paisley
  • Plaid
  • Herringbone
  • Polka dots
  • Geometric prints
  • Florals


Stick to the colours that you love and the hues that you have started building up in your wardrobe. If you like wearing blue and have blue cardigans, make sure you stick with a pattern that contains blue and your neutral colours (such as grey). This will mean that your patterned garment won’t be a one-hit-wonder!

If you’re stuck, here are my favourite colour matches for patterns:

  • Navy and tan
  • Pale pink and white
  • Cobalt blue and grey
  • Black and white


Keep these simple and classic and let your patterns do the talking. Think classic earrings and simple metallic necklaces, or pearls as an alternative.

Mixing and matching patterns

It can be done! However it is important to think about the balance of your outfit.

Two sets of strong patterns can look nice together, such as spots and stripes. Remember to keep the colours muted so that it is the patterns doing all the work for you and not the colours. Otherwise this can make a garish mess!

Also if you’re thinking of adding two patterns in two different colours, this can be done but you need to be careful. First pick the item which will have the most dominant colour and pattern, and the make sure your other pattern is of a softer colour. This point can also be made with regards to patterns, always balance a bold pattern with a more subtle pattern. For example a floral skirt with a small polka dot shirt. :-)

How do you wear patterns to work?