How to Wear Patterned Pants

They are being worn by women of all ages – a fun and instant way to dress on trend. But patterned pants can be tricky to pull off!

Studio 5 Beauty & Style Contributor Holly Stone explains how to do it right.

First, understand there is a difference between a print and a pattern.

· Patterns are timeless styles (often woven into the fabric itself) in a pure repetitive fashion. Think plaid, hound tooth, checkered, argyle, polka dot, tweed

· Prints are trendy styles typically imprint on the fabric with multiple variations. Think floral, paisley, geometric, animal (leopard, zebra, tiger, cheetah, giraffe, reptile).

There are five things to consider when choosing a patterned pant:


The size of the print should be directly proportionate to your overall bone structure. And your bone structure is proportionate to YOUR body – no one else’s. You have a mathematical measurement to help you determine your bone structure and it is your fingers in relation to your wrist size.

Finding your wrist bone, wrap your middle finger and thumb around it. If you have space to move between fingers and wrist, your bones a smaller. If it is a comfortable fit, your bones are medium and if it is tight or your finger and thumb can’t quite meet, then you have a larger bone structure.

Understanding your bone structure, select a print that meets that exact structure or below. For example, if you are medium bone structure, select prints that are medium or small in size.

If you wear prints that are too large for you, the print will wear you and detract from the most flattering version of your figure. Equally the same, if the print is teeny tiny and you are a larger frame person, the print can make you appear actually larger than you are.


The color of your pants is less important than the color or your top. The goal with balanced dressing is to create a long, lean vertical line towards your face with colors that reflect your personal coloring. What is closest to your face is where you should put the majority of your focus. This is a liberating rule so therefore, be brave with your pants. Select colors that are bold and alluring by keeping in mind that you can tone them down or bring them into harmony by pairing them with a top that reflects your personal coloring.

Don’t feel like you have to match the base tone exactly. Use any color within the print, no matter how subtle it is, as a point of inspiration to tie into your blouse color. Denim shirts are a fantastic versatile staple than can accommodate most printed pants.


Time of year matters when selecting appropriate print styles. Use this to your advantage and wear the print that best reflects the season. For instant floral prints would be most harmonious with Spring and Summer. Whereas geometric prints are great for fall and winter. You will feel overall more confident if your print aligns with the season.


The cut of the pant is a contributing factor when selecting prints. For skinny fit, select a busy print to distract from the areas the pant may hug. For a looser fit, select a more subtle print to allow the flattering line of the pant to shine through.


When mixing pants and tops with prints, the best rule to follow is to mix Prints with Patterns. Patterns are typically more grounding and neutral and the print is the wow factor. If you try to mix prints, it becomes more challenging to create balance and often results in competing factors. When wearing printed pants, don’t feel that a solid on top is the best option. While it is indeed the safest, you can really exert some style and have fun with fashion by pairing a printed pant with a patterned blouse. Just make sure the color family is synergistic and the sky is the limit!! After all, fashion is meant to be fun.

Style Tip: When selecting a shoe with a printed pant, the ideal selection is a solid, bold color. You want the pant to be the statement piece so don’t try to compete with it head to toe. Use the solid shoe to ground the pant, balance the eye, and achieve a flattering look head to toe.

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