As our closet inventories grow, the patterns within them likewise multiply. Polka dots line up against stripes. Geometrics waft against southwest inspired apparels, and paisleys brush against florals.. it’s a veritable circus! But  sometime the three-ringed extravaganza can be a good time (sartorially speaking), just as long as you don’t wind up looking like the ringmaster.

Here is how to avoid such a disaster:

1. Large pattern mixed with large pattern (big polka dot with a big stripe) can look cumbersome and way over the top. If you are wearing a thick striped skirt, a top with smaller polka dots will ensure that you don’t look like you got dressed in the dark.  You want to mix large-scale with small-scale. Something about the two provides a balance.

2. Make sure you choose one color that repeats. If there is navy in the top, it is helpful to make sure there is navy on the bottom. This is not a rule of thumb per se, but will help lead you in the right direction, until you are comfortable just throwing stuff together on a whim.

3. Sometimes our closet does the work for us, and fated hangers create an outfit.  While you’re busy warbling about what to wear, the answer is often hanging right in front of you. Some of the best outfits are created when you aren’t looking (aka shoving hangers back in wherever they will fit or doubling up hangers to make space). The first time I realized I could wear leopard and navy and white polka dots was during a massive doubling-up. If it looks like it might work, don’t think too hard.

4. Which reminds me, if it looks accidentally, it (often, not always) looks better. Outfits that are too meticulously planned look so. This may feel counter-intuitive for you Type-A girls out there, but trust your gut.

And remember, if you get out of the house and realize you have thrown together the most absurd looking outfit…who cares. It’s one day where you are free to look like you are one-hundred percent carefree.

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