Pattern-mixing stripes + leopard print | How I mentally put together outfits

If you’re a longtime reader (thank you!), then you know I’m super practical, and I also enjoy thoroughly thinking through each outfit that I wear. It’s a creative outlet for me, and also a way to merge my creative and practical sides together. Everything I wear has a purpose and a reason for why I’m wearing it, depending on the weather and the activities set for that specific day. And sharing those reasons with others is a major reason why I still enjoy blogging. Not just posting pics of what I wear on Facebook or Instagram — but having the space to reflect and write down my thoughts and reasons for what I wear, to give voice to this style journey that I am documenting.

Reflecting on how I “build” outfits

In my head, when I’m “building” outfits, it is akin to those books in my childhood that you could flip the top, bottom, and middle sections to mix-and-match different looks. (Do they still make those?) I have the ability to visualize outfits in my head; I don’t have to physically “see” the clothes to put things together. (Same thing goes for mentally rearranging furniture in a room.) I just flip through possibilities in my head, mentally switching up tops or bottoms or accessories until I get to an outfit combination that makes sense.

How do I know when that moment comes? It’s hard to describe, but it’s like my brain is all active doing that mental flipping, flip flip flip like a lightbulb blinking. When it gets to a good outfit combination, my brain pauses and calms down, the glow from the lightbulb strong and true. A good outfit combo literally and mentally just feels right to me. Maybe that’s simply called instinct. I guess what it comes down to is that I’ve learned to trust my sartorial instincts.

Librarian for Life + Style | Pattern-mixing stripes + leopard print

Librarian for Life + Style | Pattern-mixing stripes + leopard print

Librarian for Life + Style | Pattern-mixing stripes + leopard print closeup

Building an outfit, step by step

So how did this outfit come about? I’ll go through my mental outfit-building, step by step:

  • It first started with the shoes, which are patent leather. It was off-and-on rainy that morning, and patent leather is a good choice for rainy days. This was on the weekend, and we were running errands in the morning, so these patent leather flats would also be practical for doing that.
  • I had worn these grey jeans earlier in the week, so they were still on the floor in the laundry basket, so they came next. These jeans also aren’t too long, so they would be a good length with the flats.
  • Then I mentally flipped through a few possibilities for tops that would tie in with the red flats, and I came to my red striped tee. So far so good.
  • It was chilly, so I wanted an extra layer for warmth, and I first thought about a solid-colored cardigan, like my grey or black cardigan. And then, the final lightbulb — another opportunity to pattern-mix! My grey leopard-print cardigan would coordinate color-wise with my grey jeans but would also provide a bit more visual excitement to the top half with the pattern-mixing.
  • And when I pictured my leopard-print cardigan with the rest of the outfit I had put together in my mind, everything clicked. I could see it in my mind, and it just felt right.
  • Last step, accessories. I didn’t want a necklace to clutter up the pattern-mixing or the boat neckline of the striped tee. I didn’t want heavy earrings because we were running errands. So I went with simple earrings, black and silver earring studs. Done! 🙂

Librarian for Life + Style | Pattern-mixing stripes + leopard print

Librarian for Life + Style | Pattern-mixing stripes + leopard print

Librarian for Life + Style | Pattern-mixing stripes + leopard print closeup

One of our errands took us across the Sound into Gig Harbor. And I like to the take photos while we’re out and about, as a way to also document where we live, so it was a perfect opportunity to highlight the marina waterfront along the smaller town of Gig Harbor. This location was at the Austin Estuary Park, which helps protect wetland and stream buffer areas with native grasses, shrubs, and trees. A great place to take photos, and a great place to appreciate our natural habitat!

Librarian for Life + Style | Pattern-mixing stripes + leopard print

Librarian for Life + Style | Pattern-mixing stripes + leopard print

Librarian for Life + Style | Pattern-mixing stripes + leopard print

Finally, another shoe portrait of me and Sam! Tomorrow, I’ll be highlighting another outfit of Sam’s, so stay tuned!

Librarian for Life + Style | Shoes selfie

Weather:  Off-and-on rainy and sunny

Where:  Errand-running in Tacoma and Gig Harbor


  • Cardigan:  c/o giveaway, old
  • Striped tee:  J.Crew Factory, last winter
  • Jeans:  Macy’s, old
  • Flats:  DSW, old

Shop my outfit

similar grey leopard print cardigan  //  similar striped tee  //  similar grey jeans  //  similar patent leather flats

Librarian for Life + Style | Mixing stripes and leopard print outfit collage

Linkups:  Hello MondayVisible Monday, #iwillwearwhatilikeShoe and TellConfident TwosdaysTurning Heads, Style With a SmileWho’s Wearing What WednesdaysTrendy Wednesday, What I Wore Wednesday, I Feel Pretty Wednesdays, Weekly Wednesday Fashion Linkup,  Whatcha Wearing WednesdayTop of the WorldThursdays Fashion Files, Thursday ModaCelebrating StyleFashion FridayPassion for Fashion, Fun Fashion FridayCharming FridayFriday Favorites, Fancy Friday, Flashback Fashion FridayFine-Whatever LinkupWeekend Wear Link Up#SaturdayShareLinkUp


16 thoughts on “Pattern-mixing stripes + leopard print | How I mentally put together outfits

  1. Gail Hanlon

    It’s fascinating to read about the thoughts and process that go into creating an outfit for you. Prior to blogging, I had a very black and white approach — I tended to wear monochrome or two colors at most, and didn’t go in for many accessories. Since I started blogging, I’ve had to up my game and so it’s a more complicated process now of thinking about accessories and maybe mixing colors up a bit. I’m having fun identifying where I have gaps….for example, red: I decided to get some red accessories, low cost, so I’ve been looking for a bag, belt and brooch.

  2. Mireille

    Very cool! I have been lazy with my accessories and shoes lately but trying to get back into the swing of things!

    1. Jen @ Librarian for Life and Style Post author

      Thanks, Laurie! At first, I felt a little hesitant about going into so much detail… like would anyone actually keep reading this? But then I figured, well, at least I will have documented it somewhere, and the personal reflection piece of it was really the whole point, anyway. My husband read the post and commented, “You really do just think through everything, don’t you?” Yep! 😀

  3. Lisa

    I love hearing your thought process on how the look came together. I like the mixing of the leopard with the stripes, and the cute patent flats. Thanks so much for joining the Fabulous Friday Link Up.

    Daily Style Finds


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