Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Pattern Mixing: Everyone's a critic

There are a lot of things I love about blogging. I love drumming up topics to write about and doing research for a post. I love sharing tips regarding thrifting and shopping for vintage. I love networking with other fashion bloggers through my own blog, IFB, Twitter, and Facebook. And I love reading other blogs and learning all I can about the ever-changing world of fashion and personal style.

However, the thing I adore most about blogging is the wealth of learning opportunities, both within and outside of fashion. Because, truth be told, I'm a gigantic nerd. I was one of those people who cried at their high school and college graduations not because I was afraid to enter the "real world," but because it meant I would no longer be in class. Whether it's statistics, html code, or the proper way of blending eye shadows, I'm that hand-waving, brown-nosing, front row student bursting with enthusiasm. I take copious notes. I watch how-to clips on YouTube. I make magazine pages hemorrhage with fluorescent yellow highlighter. I am a certifiable dork.

This week one of my goals was to try my hand at pattern-mixing. In case you've been living under a rock, forming an ensemble around mixed patterns (and textures) has been a hot fashion trend since, well, Marc Jacob's plaid-heavy grunge collection back in 1992. Naturally, I planned my attack carefully. I methodically researched pattern-mixing on Google, bringing up tips from a encyclopedic collection of different sources. Glamour suggested working around a base color. Academichic recommended allowing one pattern be the dominant player over another, such as a tweed skirt with a striped sweater. Suzy of Miss Vinyl Ahoy advised me to think of one pattern as a solid, such as a blouse with small polka dots or a tiny print, and pair a bolder item with it. On Kelinda.KELINDA, I also learned to pair loud patterns with more subtle ones, while Pixie In Pumps' style inspiration folder gave me a glimpse into pattern-mixing on the runway. And no one does pattern mixing as well as my style guru Erin of Work With What You've Got.

This morning I woke up feeling refreshed and confident, armed with pages of research and closet full of patterned separates. I would so rock this, I decided. My gold cable-knit sweater, striped long-sleeved tee, and floaty floral skirt seemed perfect for my debut into pattern-mixing. Carefully I put the pieces on, sauntered out my bedroom, and left the house for a day of errands and thrifting.

Either I failed miserably at pattern mixing, or the public isn't quite ready for this clearly adventurous look, because I received many quizzical looks during the day. Some women outright stared. Teenagers elbowed each other, encouraging closer examination of my ensemble. The check-out woman at Kroger informed me that I looked"...interesting" (insert sneer.) However, the harshest criticism originated from my own family, when my youngest child coldly announced that I looked "like a crazy hobo." Harsh. Then again, this is how he prefers to dress:

Foam Mario Bros. hat, white shorts, and a blankie. It's what all the hip people are wearing this season, apparently.
So I'm not that worried. I'll admit that mixing patterns was definitely out of my comfort zone. My particular combination took some getting used to. And I felt kind of rebellious all day...which was sort of fun.

Have you tried mixing patterns? Or do you shy away from this trend? Why or why not? And did I indeed fail miserably?

Thrifted Loft cardigan; thrifted J Crew long-sleeved tee; thrifted vintage Ann Taylor silk skirt; Gap Outlet tights; Nine West oxfords, Target belt

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