It’s a perennial question; how can I match patterns together? Can I guarantee the houndstooth jacket I’m buying will work with my collection of argyle socks or polka dotted ties?

The simple answer is yes – following a few simple, straightforward rules you can indeed wear contrasting elements together successfully. Follow my quick, three step patterns guide and you’ll find mastering such ornamentation is well within your grasp.

Step #1: Keep Patterns The Same

Therefore, if you’re wearing a heavily striped article of clothing, pair it with another striped pattern. The same goes for checks, dots or any other decoration. However, you shouldn’t stop here – the absolute key to success lies with ensuring that you then…

Step #2: Match Patterns That Are Differently Sized

In other words you need to ensure that you match those similar patterns using opposing scales. For example, pair strong bold stripes with thin pinstripe, polka dots on microdots, and so on. This provides a suitable level of contrast, but still keeping the consistency you need.

patterns guide 2013

Step #3: Capture Colours Between Patterns

You can pull together different patterns by utilizing a common hue of the same colour between garments. For example, a subtle grey check on both shirt and tie can help create harmony between both pieces; matching a navy windowpane jacket with a navy tie accented with sky blue spots, et cetera.

patterns for harmony

Bonus Tip for 2013

If you are looking for something that’s particularly apt for Autumn/Winter 2013, then look for those patterns that are commonly associated with the colder seasons; specifically, you should be checking out checks, houndstooth and traditional-weave plaid. Not only will you be ‘on trend’, but these traditional prints are extremely versatile and will remain fresh well in to 2014 and beyond…

If you want to know more about specific patterns and how you can wear them, take a look at my classic pattern guide for a few extra pointers.

About The Author

Johnathan Bell is the founder, owner and main author of Guy Style Guide, a website dedicated to everyday male fashion, style and grooming. The primary mission? To guide clueless men through the tricky mindfield that is the growing world of male couture. Find him on , Twitter and Tumblr.