A smart man can combine two different patterns without hesitation, without fear. He knows the trick. The secret is the scale. Keep the same patterns a different size. Keep different patterns the same size. You don’t want one design to upstage the other. So remember: size matters. Different patterns should be similar in size.
Let’s say, for example, you want to pair a dotted tie with a gingham shirt; yes, it is possible. Here’s how you’d do it. Ensure the space between the tie’s dots is as wide as the gingham’s lines. Instead of adding a third pattern, opt for a solid coloured suit. To further harmonize the look, reflect the shirts colour in your tie. If the gingham is a pale blue, the specks dotting the tie can be a royal blue. Attention to scale and colour makes you easy on the eyes.
Mixing two different small patterns, however, is hard on the eyes. A newscaster wearing a thinly striped tie with a tiny-checkered shirt yields a blur on your television. You’d squint and change the channel. You don’t want your boss or coworker to ignore you the way you would ignore the newscaster. When in doubt, mix larger designs.
Of course, there are always exceptions when mixing patterns on your suit, tie, shirt etc. Fashion sense comes from the gut so trust your self. And when you can’t rely on your gut, rely on your tailor. When you visit for a fitting, get his opinion. A good tailor wouldn’t let you walk the streets looking subpar.
Until you perfect the art of mixing patterns, stick with two different designs. Adding a third can be dangerous if you don’t have enough experience. Meanwhile, you now know the trick to mixing patterns so have fun with it. Pair patterns with courage.