Fall Fashion: Pattern and Texture


Want to amp up your style for fall? Here’s some advice: don’t focus too much on colors, instead try textures and patterns.

One distinct element of my style is rooted in texture and pattern. I really don’t believe any color combination is interesting enough on its own. It’s a rare occasion that typically involves other factors. Sure, when I look in my closet I see a lot of black, white, purple, red, tan, and blue, but I also see various interesting patterns [geometric prints, non-tacky animal prints, tasteful floral prints, abstract prints, the occasional graphic print, etc.] and textures [tweed, chiffon, quality faux leather, knitted sweaters, zippers, spiked necklaces, etc.].

At the very least, I make an effort to include at least one patterned or textured item in my outfit choice each day. Ideally, I would have both.

My go-to items for this?

  1. Square scarf that’s tan with a black floral lace/skull pattern, slightly fringed edges, and a few tiny silver hexagon studs distributed tastefully
  2. Black [Minus the] Leather Leggings from Express [non-tacky matte leather], especially my high waisted ones with cleverly placed zippers or my black cotton ones with leather panels on the sides
  3. Silver watch with pyramid stud band
  4. Some sort of spiked necklace [not the goth kind]
  5. Tweed peacoat

Color can only do so much for you. Yes, it has the power to evoke certain emotional and/or behavioral responses from others [I urge you to read up on color psychology; it’s quite interesting] but standalone it lacks in dimension. Pattern and texture can add that extra dimension to your clothing. It makes things more interesting.

No need to go Mondo Guerra or Anya Ayoung Chee on this, though. Mixing patterns and textures poorly can be just as bad, if not worse, than no patterns or textures at all. If you’re unsure, either leave it to the experts or take the risk anyway. It’s up to you. Do what’s most comfortable, but if you’re feeling confident, change it up. Confidence can make any outfit look better, at the very least.

So start with solid colors as a base, and work your way up from there. It’s hard to go wrong with neutral colors, especially black, white, or tan. Again, no need to mix a lot of different patterns to make yourself seem more interesting. It’s all about having the right touches here and there, balanced within the context of the entire outfit.

There is no hard and fast rule, but I recommend trying to split sections of your body with color, pattern, and texture. I almost always avoid letting the same color touch or having two bold patterns touch. If I wear a patterned pant, my top is usually solid. If my top is patterned, then my bottoms tend not to be. My top and shoes might coordinate if the pattern or texture is close enough. The only exception to this rule is if the patterns you overlap are distinct from each other [i.e., one loud, the other subtle]. When it comes to color, I will only go monochromatic if the touching colors are exactly the same, or different enough to juxtapose each other [that is, to create distinct contrast].

If you’re reluctant to try new patterns and textures, then I suggest looking into color blocking. Though it tends to be less about the actual colors and more about the cut, shape, and proportions of the garment. That consideration varies for every body type and personal style, and would be the subject of another article.