Dressing well is not about fashion or vanity; it’s about self-expression, self-acceptance, self-love, and teaching others how to treat you. It takes 5 to 15 seconds to make a first impression, which means what you wear is essential to how you tell your story. Representing your authentic self in style for the Black Professionals Summit festivities is the way to bring your best foot forward in your pursuits. Bringing your best at the Summit will even be rewarded, as the top two best dressed attendees win prizes from BPN stylists, Styled by Svec and Ashley Michelle Miller Styling, who offer insight on how to slay the summit weekend below.
Whether you would like to mix and match prints, colorblock, or scintillate in a monochromatic look, the below guide highlights how to do each, maximizing what is in your closet to its fullest potential.
Mixing Prints & Patterns 101:
Gone are the days where staid colors like navy and gray are the cornerstone for professional fashion. Mixing and matching prints and patterns is one way to reflect bold and confident personal style for men and for women alike. Don’t know where to start? See below.
1. Get to know your foundation prints. Start with classic, simple prints: stripes, polka-dots, and florals. Then, layer on a bolder print. For example, try a classic striped T-shirt with a more exciting geometric pattern layered on top. The lines in both patterns will compliment each other, and the simple stripe will act as a neutral.
2. Embrace the power clash. You don’t always have to match patterns. Mixing bold patterns like leopard print and plaid may seem like a fashion faux pas, but there’s a lot of power in selecting two prints that don’t share any commonalities. Anchor the look with a neutral item, like a black blazer or denim jacket.
3. Choose patterns of different sizes. One of the simplest ways to mix patterns is to layer patterns with two different scales. Pairing a small-scale print with a large-scale pattern allows the smaller scale to work as a neutral.
4. Use color. When working with mixed prints, pay close attention to colors. Bold patterns in neutral colors, like black and white, can offset wildly different patterns in a more vibrant color scheme. One strategy is to mix a monochrome pattern, like a red-and-white polka-dot, with a multicolor pattern that features the color from the monochrome, like a red floral print.
1. Start with solids. Color blocking creates a daring enough look in and of itself. So, for beginners, there is no need to make it more complicated by adding in patterns. Keep it pure with solids only.
2. Stick with the same saturation. If you are starting with a very saturated piece, keep the other colors saturated as well. If you are going a bit less bold, consider less saturated, timid tints like pastels. Whatever colors you pick should all have the same visual weight.
3. Be color wheel wise. Are you familiar with the color wheel? Understanding the basics of it can really help as you venture into color mixing. As it relates to wardrobe color blocking, here are the first two things you need to know:
If you want to mix just two colors, select your favorite color on the wheel. If that color is the main color of your look, then just accessorize with the color directly opposite of it on the wheel. That color is known as the complementary color.
If you want to step up your color blocking game and mix three colors, first find your main color on the wheel. Then draw an equilateral triangle (a triangle in which all three sides are equal) from it to two other colors across on the wheel. Those three colors make a naturally harmonious trio of colors.
1. Use subtle variations in tone:
The key to executing a wearable monochromatic look is to not get fixated on having matching shades of the same color. Rather, pair tones from the same color family that complement one another.
Think tone on tone, not matchy matchy.
2. Include Contrasts in Fabric
Monochromatic outfits encourage the eyes to travel vertically (this is a good thing—it creates an illusion of length). Since you’ve got that long line going, you’ll want to give the eyes places to rest.
Texture is my favorite way to do this. A monochrome look with contrasting fabrics (think silky shorts paired with a boucle top) is way more dynamic than, say, silk on silk. Explore wool, lace, matte crepe, cashmere. There are so many options!
3. Start with Something You Love
You can technically create a monochrome look with neutrals like black, brown, and gray, but starting with one piece in a bright color will build your styling muscles a little faster.
For a fun exercise, pull out every clothing item you have in one color and lay them out on your bed. Start combining pieces into outfits and see what looks good together.