Adding depth and texture to your outfits during the winter is easy: layer scarves on top of jackets on top of knits on top of tees and so forth. But in the heat of summer when temperatures are nearing triple digits, our layering abilities are seriously impaired, which is why I (Jen) love to use this as a time to have a blast with what I call ‘pattern play‘. By just mixing unexpected patterns – stripes with dots, gingham with florals, and any other contrasting prints – you can create a fun and styled look without the added bulk! And with the 4th of July just around the corner (stars and stripes, anyone?), I felt inspired to put a look together that’s perfect for a summer barbecue. Keep reading for all the details, plus more photos from Denise!

I kept the two contrasting patterns in the same navy and white color palette to make for a more subtle pattern-play look, and then added a cheery pop of color with red espadrilles and a bright red manicure.

The silky-top and chandelier earrings make the look feel sophisticated and put-together, while the cotton shorts and wedge shoes keep it decidedly daytime.

I’d love to know: Do you mix unexpected patterns like these?  If not, I challenge you to try it for a day!  After all, what do you have to lose?

 Marc by Marc Jacobs top, Marc by Marc Jacobs shorts, Gap espadrilles, Urban Outfitters earrings, J. Crew hair clip, Club Monaco bracelets, L’Oreal ‘True Red’ lipstick

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Jen Pinkston