How to combine prints

I was waiting to meet a friend for lunch when my sister rang. I said to her “it’s true; Melbourne is awash with neutrals!!! There’s not a person here, that I can see, wearing any colour…!”

Frankly, I find it oppressive. I find it drab and unimaginative to see a sea of people wearing their uniform of black, white, grey, brown, navy and khaki. Occasionally they’re punctuated by a dot of red, though that’s not worn with gusto but (bravely) as an 'adventurous feature colour'. My eyes longed for some colour, some life, something fresh and less oppressive.

Knowing Carly Findlay as I do, I knew she wouldn’t disappoint. When she rounded the corner I felt my heart lift as my eyes fell upon a whole spring garden of colour! And not only that, she had combined prints, bringing me several aesthetic dimensions to ponder simultaneously!

I’ll be honest; I’m not always an advocate for print combos because plenty of people do it badly. But when it works, it really works! And Carly can do it masterfully. The key is to find commonality amongst the prints but to add a little jolt of something unexpected.

There are several elements that can connect prints:

  • colour

  • scale

  • line

  • direction

  • proportion

  • theme

  • rhythm

  • contrast levels

  • texture

  • visual weight

But to look really good, the combined prints also need a point of difference to provide that jolt.

Carly’s print combining creation is a great example. Why does it work?

  • The prints are comprised of monochromatic motifs

  • The colours in each print are of similar hues

  • The intensity of the colours are well matched

  • The prints share a similar contrast level (and intensity) on their dark backgrounds

  • The main shapes are organic but on differing scales

  • The surprise is delivered via the scarf; the texture and line in the scarf contrast with the other two prints yet the colours harmonise.

But wait; there’s more..!

So you may understand how to combine prints masterfully now, but do you know how to combine them so they work well on YOU?? That’s a whole different ball game. In a nutshell, you need to consider yourself as part of the overall design. My next post will be on what to consider in order to do that successfully.

Stay tuned!

Thank you Carly for permission to write about your outfit and for brightening up my lunchtime outing!

Combining prints really well requires finding commonality and adding a point of difference for a little jolt

Combining prints really well requires finding commonality and adding a point of difference for a little jolt

Carly Findlay, my inspiration for this post!

Carly Findlay, my inspiration for this post!