Ever since I was a kidlet, growing up in the suburbs of Arcadia, California, I was in love with shapes, patterns and colors. My fave memories were playing with a toy called Colorforms (created in 1951), basically a bunch of rubbery geometric shapes in bright, vibrant colors you could peel and stick onto a coated board in a myriad of patterns.


Another lovely memory was accompanying my Mom to the local library every two weeks, which had a well-stocked children’s section, loaded with picture books filled with the most amazing illustrations. Not only did I love the characters I read about, I felt an equal attraction to Piglet’s snappy pink striped bodysuit, The Phantom Tollbooth’s Mathemagician in his hat and robes covered in a precise toss-print of numbers and equations, or Ladybug Ladybug’s perfect polka dots.

This love for colorful patterns* carried over into my career choices and clothing choices when I became an adult, although, honestly, the 6-year-old me is still alive and strong in my heart. (*OK, except for those years in Art School in the early 1980’s when I was heavily into Death Rock and my closet was filled with an abyss of black. Still, in hindsight, I did manage to arrange my closet in different SHADES of black… but that’s a different story for a different time.)

I am lucky I can wear “color-with-an-exclamation-mark” outfits  within my career environment as an illustrator, and while I understand some career environments prefer a more, shall we say, corporate appeal, you, FABULOUS, YOU, can add a little color, a little dash into your wardrobe and your style and it WILL put a little pep in your step, a little sashay into your day. And there are always evenings, weekends and holidays to really let it rip. I guarantee you will also make those around you feel happier. Not a week goes by that someone doesn’t say something nice about a particular ensemble I am sporting. It will make both you and them feel better. It’s truly a magical moment when kindness kicks in like that.

So, let’s give this a whirl. It really is quite simple. Just follow these 3 easy steps with me and you will be rocking colorful patterns like a pro.

Are you game? Are you set? Don’t match!

Split Complementary Colors

We could go into a lengthy discussion about color theory and hues, tints and tones, but I will just skip to the nitty gritty and share with you a chart of Split-Complementary Colors for you to peruse. Split-complementary colors work on the principle that your base color (middle color) works best using the two colors adjacent to its complement. This handy dandy chart is an easy go-to when selecting colors for your ensemble. And if the colors are too bright, you can tone them down (electric blue becomes navy blue. Kelly green can be forest green.)

  • 3 colors work best when mixing and matching.
  • Keep your fabrics in the same color family.
  • Pick two different prints that share a single color.

Composition of your patterns helps to keep them flowing smoothly without the risk of circus music being played when you step out the door.

  • Choose one print to dominate and one as an accent.
  • Mix prints of different scales.
  • Pair mixed prints with neutrals for an easy vibe.

As with any work of art, it’s the finishing touches that make it complete. When you are employing accessories, shoes or jewelry, keep Steps 1 and 2 working throughout and your ensemble will be complete.

  • Keep your accessories within the theme of your patterns.
  • Accessories stay within the same color range.
  • Play with size.

Remember to have fun with this, infuse some humor into your pairings. And go with your gut instincts with this; if it ‘feels’ right to you, it is, and it won’t look like you got dressed in the dark.

Please share your ensembles with us here on our Facebook and lnstagram pages (use our hashtag: #eccentricdamessociety). And I am always here if you have a question or need a nudge with an outfit. We at Old Ladies Society know that each of you is a work of art, and with a bit of color and pattern thrown in, well, baby you will be LIVING ART!

Game, Set, Don’t Match, indeed! You are in for the WIN!

by Mary E. Pagone

Mary, or “Mar” to her friends, is a first-generation born daughter of a Danish mom and Italian pop; consequently she grew up knowing her family could bake a delish strudel, then kill you with it. A native Californian, Mary loves her hometown of LA and would fight you in an alley with no shoes to defend her beloved city. A full-time illustrator and designer, she adores Mid-century design, outer space, cactus gardens, oceans, and go-go dancing. She shares her home with Longboard Brett, 2 bossy rescue cats and 1 senior rescue Pit with arms like Popeye. Her wish for the world: wear your colors loud and proud, and always mix your patterns.