The fashion industry may be all about newness and the next big thing, but every so often it likes to take a look back. 2020 is no exception, with retro patterns making the transition from the (digital) runway to real life.

This season, designers have taken inspiration from multiple decades past, resulting in an unprecedented mix-and-match of patterns. And a little tip: The trend for eclectic patterns will continue in collections coming out later this year.

Take your pick, from the 1950s to the 1970s

“From polka dots and large-scale florals to psychedelic designs, the trends are endless,” says style consultant Anette Helbig. “There’s something from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s.”

The patterns first appeared on the catwalks of international fashion shows, for example Valentino, Gucci and Marc Jacobs. The legendary Pucci kaleidoscope print from the ’60s and the famous zigzag from Italian label Missoni once again ruled the runway.

The classic paisley pattern, once a bohemian favourite, is a major trend for this year. Designer Gimmo Etro brought the psychedelic print with him from India in 1968 for his collections, and the Beatles made it into a fashion must-have.

Paisley patterns are in demand again, as this shirt from the Levi’s collection demonstrates (Photo: Levi’s/dpa)

Be bold

The trend is not just about the patterns themselves, as German style consultant Helbig explains. “It’s also about bold colours like purple, orange or bright yellow that catch the eye.”

However, it’s important to combine the colourful patterns in such a way that the look does not become too nostalgic and outdated. Personal stylist Maria Hans advises combining patterns with pieces that are less busy, in colours that match the pattern. It’s always good if a hue from the patterned part of your outfit appears in the print-free pieces.

“In addition, combining retro patterns with bright colours is now also in,” says Hans. An understated alternative is “a pair of neutral jeans with a bold patterned top or blouse.”

Paisley is no longer just for hippies – it’s now a popular pattern, as this dress from the Oui brand shows. (Photo: Oui/dpa)

Mix and match

Mixing and matching styles always works well when you want a strong fashion element not to get too lost in your own style.

“A retro floral dress goes well with a pair of durable boots, for example,” says Hans. On the other hand, a 1970s design teamed with platform shoes is not a good idea. This is a good “style rule” to always have in the back of your mind.

The alternative: “Wearing different retro patterns together really puts you in the fashion premier league,” says Andrea Lakeberg, a fashion consultant from Berlin. “This makes it easy to combine a pair of snake print trousers with a block stripe sweater.”

Hans explains the trick: “For it to work, the materials need to be deliberately different. You can wear a suede or boucle piece with a silk blouse with a paisley print, for example.”

Almost everything goes: “The main thing is that the look is really bold and striking.”