Our first seasonal drop of new blazers, chinos and shirts has arrived, and with it some beautiful and rich patterns, from glen checks and ticking stripes to tartans and birdseyes. But how to put it all together? Matching patterns - choosing which shirt to pair with which jacket, for instance - can seem like something of a dark art. Size, colour, proportion - balancing these things matters. It’s the difference between your outfit looking smartly turned out and looking like a crazy quilt. The truth is that pattern matching is something that anyone can do and, with the help of a few fundamentals, it’s remarkably easy.
Let’s start with the most basic aspect - the size of the pattern. The easiest way to judge what patterns look good against what is by using what we call the Rule of Twos. Each time one pattern abuts another, it should be either twice as large or half the size. This is true whether the patterns are similar, such as the shirt and tie are striped for instance, or different, such as a stripe meeting a check. A fine striped shirt will always pair smartly with a jacket featuring a large check, and that same jacket with a wide striped shirt will feel cluttered. Never forget the Rule of Twos; it’s the North Star of sensible dressing
Next let’s consider colour. Choosing which colours are right for your wardrobe is a deeply personal decision - but there is a best practice one can adhere to when trying to figure out what goes best with what.
Take a look at your favourite piece of clothing or accessory. No, look closer - do you see it? There it is - the secondary colour. This is the colour found within the pattern Use this as your guide when pairing items. Try to match the primary colour of one item, say your suit or blazer, with the secondary colour of a shirt or accessory. That grey jacket with the navy in the check? That will look great with a navy tie, or layered over a blue button-down shirt, ten times out of ten. Making everything match is not (and should never be) the goal here. The goal, instead, is a few sympathetic touches throughout the outfit - a golden thread that ties everything together.
Developing one’s eye for such things is part of the pleasure of taking clothes at least somewhat seriously, and whilst there’s no right or wrong way to dress, understanding these fundamentals will help your outfits feel more inherently balanced.
And as always, we’re here to help guide you as well.