Expert Tips for Choosing Prints and Patterns with the Right Colours for You


I love patterns, but when looking for a specific colour in an item of clothing it is really hard to know when there is enough of the ‘right’ colour to balance out the ‘wrong’ colour.  Can you point me in the right direction? – thank you!


Choosing Prints and Patterns to Work with Your Colour Swatch

Choosing Prints to Match Your Colour Swatch

Here in this picture I’ve found some two prints that are harmonious, all the colour contained have similar colour properties so you can see that they blend with the colour swatches that they relate to.

Sadly, the third picture on the right is a print with a mix of both warm and cool colours (though all are on the brighter end of the spectrum).

The orange, warm green and brown work well with the swatch on the right, but the circles of cool green on the bust and hips are not in harmony.

There is a rule that as long as the ‘wrong’ colour is less than 20% of the pattern don’t worry about it, but you also have to consider where it is on the garment and how dominating it appears.  Overall the garment is warm, as the background of orange is warm.  But, these green circles are large and dominant, and they are on the bust and the hips, and so draw attention to those areas of the body.  Should you feel that this is not where you want attention, I would avoid this garment.

prints with both warm and cool

Here is a skirt with elements of both cool and warm, but cool is the dominant, and it fits well with this Refined palette. As the peach elements of the skirt are more subtle and 20% of the pattern (so 80% of the pattern is cool) then it could easily be worn by a person who has this kind of cool colouring.

I always recommend fanning out your colour palette and seeing if the whole palette blends with the swatch (watch this video here).

Expert Tips for Choosing Prints and Patterns with the Right Colours for You

More Tips on Using Your Colour Palette

How to Choose a Patterned Garment with Flattering Colours


How to Find Colours to Match Your Colour Swatch

How to Choose Flattering Lipstick Colours

How to Choose Colours for a Capsule Wardrobe

9 Ways Knowing Your Best Colours Will Change Your Life as Well as Your Wardrobe

How to Choose Makeup Colours that Flatter

How to Choose a Hair Colour as You Age



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  • Another great post! I have learned so much about color from your website. Are you still working on an e-book on the subject of color?

    • Rebecca – yes I am working still on my colour book! Will take me a little while but hope to have it finished by the end of the year. Have you any specific questions I can answer?

      • I would love to see the way age affects your previous color typing. It would also be great, if once,
        we found our color types with your program, we were able to purchase your swatches!

  • So interesting! I do love bold retro type prints but they are definitely for when I’m feeling bold. The print placement is so important on a piece of clothing and one of the reasons I now won’t buy patterned clothing online (unless a uniform print). When I buy something patterned in the shops I have been known to get every one out in my size in order to look at the print and where it sits on the garment. It can make the difference between loving something and it feeling almost great. I’d never really analysed it further than that before, but of course it relates to how it emphasizes parts of your body and therefore whether the final look on you is balanced or not.

    I must admit with regards to colour I am more of a scaredly cat and tend to go with 2 tone colours or a blend of colours that harmonise with the same tone. I’m happy to clash prints and some colours (when I choose to, which is quite often), but don’t like to feel restricted to a fixed pattern / colour clash. Again your explanation shows me it’s about how I control that proportion of clash that works for me :). I love these posts that explain why you make certain decisions in choosing pieces of clothing and putting outfits together!

    • So true Emma that where the print sits on your body can make or break a garment – I always advise my clients to do exactly what you do when trying on a more sparse print. It makes a huge difference. You may prefer two tone prints because of your natural colour contrast levels where you suit prints with less colours rather than a riot of colour.

    • Mimi – I’ve done thousands of colour consultations and I’ve never come across someone who has a mix of warm and cool colouring (unless they dye their hair to the opposite of what their natural colouring is, and it will not be flattering on their skin). There are people who are closer to the warm/cool divide, but they are still overall warmer or cooler, not both.

    • Thank you very much for this post. I have (naturelly) cool dark brown hair and eyebrows, a light neutral skin tone with orange-red cheeks. My eyes are warm brown and my lips cool pink. It’s very hard for me to find really matching colors. But I love to wear prints with warm and cool elements.

  • Sorry to hijack the comments (this is a great post, by the way), but I’m trying to send a message via the Contact page, but it claims that I type the wrong verification code every time – I know I’m not THAT bad a typist. How can I ask a question about the 7 Steps to Style System?

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