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Steffi Lee
Mar 08, 2015 @ 3:03 pm

With warmer temperatures (hopefully!) just around the corner, now is a good time as any to start replacing your dull winter neutrals with pieces that just look flat-out fun. Inspired by the all the gorgeous prints on the spring runways—Chanel watercolors, Erdem greenery, Michael Kors botanicals—we set out to demystify how to style patterns together without seeming like you got dressed out of a lost and found box. See below for our tried-and-true rules of thumb. May the mixing-and-matching forces be with you!

Tip #1: TIE IT ALL TOGETHER WITH COLOR

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With so much going on visually, you need a consistent element—no matter how subtle—running throughout. Case in point: The forest green in the button-down shirt and slit skirt here.

Tip #2: KEEP THE SCALE CONSISTENT

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An outsized motif tends to look disjointed with a delicate one. Try complementing small polka dots with skinny stripes, or large plaids with dramatic gingham.

Tip #3: OPPOSITES ATTRACT

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With the exception of deliberately matched sets (which are having a moment right now, FYI), wearing similar patterns gives off a costume vibe. Instead, balance a menswear-inspired design with something really feminine, like this structured check and whimsical floral combo.

Tip #4: FINISH WITH UNDERSTATED ACCESSORIES

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Keep your extras minimal and sleek so they don't compete with what you've got going on—why risk sensory overload? When in doubt, remember: A pair of chic flatforms and a lady bag have never done a stylish woman wrong.

RELATED: How to Wear Spring 2015 Trends Now

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