The Deadly Sins of Style… Sin #3: Mismatching Patterns (IV) | Men’s Clothing Style Guides

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Sin #3: Mismatching Patterns (IV) | Men’s Clothing Style Guides

Somewhat  more  complicated  than  following  a  dress  code,  the  art  of  choosing the right pattern for both your build and for different degrees of formality is another common area of failing for men.
Some men mismatch patterns to jarring effect, while others try to avoid the issue by wearing only solid colors, neither of which takes advantage of one of the defining features of clothing.
Ditch  the  shyness,  learn  the  basics,  and  make  pattern a functioning part of  your wardrobe – not just something that happens to be there, but something that makes a statement about you.

Levels of Pattern Formality 
First  off,  understand  that  different  patterns  are  acceptable  in  different  social situations.
Different  cultures  put  slightly  different  emphasis  on  the  importance  of  pattern – what might raise eyebrows at a charity dinner will likely go unnoticed at an art gallery opening – but overall, the more obvious a pattern is the less formal the garment is considered to be.

Solid  colors are the most formal end of the scale, while overstated patterns  like paisleys and polka-dots are so casual as to be almost entirely absent from menswear.
Remembering  the  basic  break-down  of  dress  codes  from  the  last  chapter,  you can generally assume that only solid colors are appropriate for formal or semi-formal  occasions,  modest  pinstriping  becomes  acceptable  at  the  business level, and bolder patterns should only be worn in dress-casual or casual situations.

This  applies  to  jackets,  trousers,  and  shirts;  ties  should  also  be  kept  solid at the upper levels of formality, but have a somewhat wider array of options in the more casual strata.

Matching and Contrasting | Men’s Clothing Style Guides

The  most basic rule of patterning is never to match the scale of the pattern  from one piece of clothing to the next. That is to say, if you wear a suit with narrow pinstripes, neither your tie nor your shirt should feature the same.
A  broad  chalk-stripe  on  the  shirt  and  solid  tie  or  a  solid  shirt  with  a  broadly-striped tie would be a better fit, and so on.
People  with  a  shallow  understanding  of  clothing  may  extend  this  rule  and  simply say that you shouldn’t wear differing patterns, but they are missing the  point  –  a  shirt  covered  in  small,  delicate  cross-hatching  is  not  inappropriate with a broadly striped suit, nor with a “figure” tie featuring a repeated crest or monogram.


This is just the ​beginning of your style journey? Stay connected for the upcoming articles.

Please  note  that  much  of  this  publication  is  based  on  personal  experience  and anecdotal evidence.  
Although  the  author  and  publisher  have  made  every  reasonable  attempt  to  achieve complete accuracy of the content in this Guide, they assume no responsibility for errors or omissions.  
Also, you should use this information as you see fit, and at your own risk. 
Your  particular  situation  may  not  be  exactly  suited  to  the  examples  illustrated here; in fact, it’s likely that they won’t be the same, and you should adjust your use of the information and recommendations accordingly.
Finally,  use  your  head. Nothing in this Guide is intended to replace common  sense, legal, medical or other professional advice, and is meant to inform and entertain the reader.  
So have fun and learn to dress sharp! 

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