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What to wear with patterned pants


Senior Member
Jul 25, 2002
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Figured I needed some patterned pants so I ended up getting two different pairs. I got some white and blue Paul Smith London cotton pants; I don't know the exact term for the pattern but it's alternating rows of really small diamond/squares so the pants look sort of like a solid pale blue from a distance. The other pants is a pair of cotton Nicole Miller trousers that are yellow/beige with a medium-sized navy blue windowpane pattern. It's a little tacky, but I got it cheap off Ebay so I don't really mind.

I need some recommendations of shirt styles and colors (are patterned shirts totally out of the question?) to wear with these pants. I'm thinking plain white would go well with both of them but I'd prefer to try some more colors with the pants but not end up looking silly. As for when to wear them, I assume daytime (not business) casual during the spring/summer season would be best, or could I pull off wearing them out to clubs or parties?


Senior Member
May 24, 2002
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Patterned shirts aren't totally out of the question, but it's generally not easy to find a good match, unless you just have an eye for such things...or you're one of those who thinks that deliberate pattern clashes are chic. (I'm not one of the latter, but, then, I don't pick ensembles for runway shows.)

Think of matching patterned pants to shirts in much the same way you'd match ties to shirts, or shirts to jackets. As long as there's sufficient contrast between patterns"”large vs. small, simple vs. complex"”the combo has potential to work. Of course, the pattern elements may or may not work together: A striped shirt with plaid pants? A polka dot shirt with striped pants? See what works for you. Then, it's a matter of choosing complementary colors.

While I enjoy finding just the right match every once in a while, I tend to wear solid shirts with patterned pants. Sure, white works, but you can also select any of the colors in the pattern for your solid. Picking one of the less dominant colors is usually a safe bet: that is, if your pants are blue with a little yellow, try a yellow shirt. The shirt color needn't be as saturated as the pants, but the tone should be similar. (If the yellow in the pants is a bright lemon yellow, a pale lemon yellow shirt would be a surer match than one that leans towards butterscotch.)

As with most things sartorial, these aren't hard and fast rules, but rather a point of departure for finding your own look.

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