Mary Katrantzou Fall/Winter 2012

Every style-setter worth her fleur de sel knows that certain rules were made to be broken. Why not wear white after Labour Day or throw a tailored black jacket over a chic navy shift? Fashion’s current obsession with mixing and matching prints, however, throws down a sartorial gauntlet to make Coco Chanel blush. Bottom line: Even in fall 2011, it’s a tricky proposition. Our advice? Proceed, but with caution. If you’re a print neophyte, start by introducing some classic graphic patterns into your wardrobe. Once you feel comfortable, treat those graphics as neutrals and begin layering secondary prints in the form of a jacket, scarf or even a bag. To kick off the challenge, we’ve chosen eight great building blocks, paired with fashion tips on how to wear them for maximum style—and impact. That’s the thing about a fashion dare: You always remember your first time.

The coat

Get a head start with a winter coat that looks like it’s sprinkled with snowflakes. Stylish and surprisingly versatile, this coat goes anywhere and with anything, taking you from a morning meeting paired with flat rust-coloured riding boots to an evening at the symphony matched with opaque black tights and platform booties. Swan song? The faux fur collar, one of fall’s best fashion trends.
Draconid coat, $200,

The dress

Your perfect starter print, complete with a classic palette and minimalist clean lines. The silhouette is also incredibly flattering—the fitted empire bodice shows off the smallest point of your waist, while the flowy skirt acts as ultra chic camouflage.
Dress, $59.95,

The blazer

Easy does it—if you’re an aspiring mix master, use this blazer to add pop to an all-black ensemble, like a knit turtleneck, pencil skirt and boots. Then choose accessories in green or soft pink to pick up on the floral hues and create a cohesive look. For an intermediate challenge, pair the blazer with slim-fitting pink jeans and a top with wide horizontal stripes. Remember: The number one rule of mixing prints is that one print must dominate, so that your outfit always has a definite focal point. In this case, the jacket is the star and all other prints act as the supporting cast.
Tea Rose Velvet Blazer, $200,

Click here to see the rest of our favourite graphic fashion finds.