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Repetition as a Design Element

Let’s talk about a design principle and how you can use it to create solid outfits.

One of the foundational elements of a good design is repetition. Repetition simply refers to the repeated use of a particular shape, color, texture, or other element to bring unity to a design. The repetition need not be so frequent as to create a pattern. The repeated element only needs to create a visual echo, if you will, to reinforce what the eye sees. The repeated element doesn’t even have to be exact. It only needs to have some aspect of commonality.

This principle can be employed in any field of design. For instance, graphic designers use this in designing a website and interior designers use this in designing a room. And similarly, you and I can use repetition to build cohesive outfits.

3 Ways to Use Repetition to Build a Cohesive Outfit

Let’s examine my fall look as an illustration of different ways in which one can use repetition to achieve a harmonious look…


First, I started with velvet. This texture is going to be huge for fall, as I mentioned in my post, Two Easy Tips for Wearing Fall Trends in the Summer. So, I paired my new favorite Laurence Dacade velvet booties with this Isabel Marant velvet top. Note that the top and boots are different colors. The velvet material is really the only commonality of these two pieces. But yet that is enough to make it work.


Second, I united my look with color. Specifically, I utilized the fall-appropriate wine / marsala / maroon hue. I did this through both the boots and the leather jacket.


Finally, I played with shape. This example is perhaps a bit more obscure but stay with me… Notice the curves of the shiny silver Dior ‘So Real’ sunglasses? That shape is echoed by the curves of the shiny silver cuff that I wore.

For more great examples of this design principle in action, I suggest checking out these two fashion friends of mine: Erica of Fashioned Chic and Tina (@the.nowhere.girl on Instagram). Both are experts at using repetition in building outfits that make visual sense. As an example, notice how Tina unified this look with the subtle use of stars.

By employing these concepts, an everyday look can go from looking plain and boring to looking interesting and enticing. Give it a try! We would love to see and hear how you use this principle.

Finally, have a great day!

Photos by Ailee Petrovic

Details of My Look

Isabel Marant velvet top (I also like this one and this one) | R13 distressed boyfriend jeans (I also like these and these) | IRO leather jacket (from last year; similar options here, here, and here) | Laurence Dacade embroidered velvet boots (c/o) (I also like these and these) | Dior ‘So Real’ sunglasses | Elena Ghisellini felina bag (c/o) (similar here) | Nars scarlet empress lipstick | Chanel nail polish | Dior pearl earrings (inexpensive option here)


  1. Sheri says:

    Hi Carrie,
    I think the principle of repetition is so great. Really love the velvet top.
    Tina’s style is amazing. Have followed her for a long time. Cool that you linked to her.


    1. Carrie says:

      Thanks so much, Sheri! Tina has been a friend of mine for years. I just adore her knack for pulling looks together.

  2. ashley says:

    Great post! I think this will definitely help a lot of people find their style!! 😉

    1. Carrie says:

      Thanks a bunch, Ash!

  3. I love how you practically explain the design elements…sometimes it can be so hard to communicate WHY a look WORKS, because to me, it just works or it doesn’t. 🙂 This is great!

    1. Carrie says:

      Thanks so much for saying that, Jessica! That means a lot. 🙂

  4. Will says:

    That jacket! Those booties! So on point. Great advice, too. 🙂

    1. Carrie says:

      Ah, you made my day, Will! Thank you.

  5. Merritt Beck says:

    Loving the velvet, it is definitely going to be such a huge trend this fall! Perfectly styled outfit as well, so fun to see the design elements that went into creating this look!
    xx, Merritt
    The Style Scribe

    1. Carrie says:

      I am all about the velvet, Merritt! And thanks so much for saying that regarding the styling.

  6. Bella B says:

    Ok carrie, I should have taken those boots while I was there!!! I still cant get over how cute they are! This is such a great look. I love everything about it.

    Sending you love!

    1. Carrie says:

      Ha! That made me laugh, Bella. Miss you!!!

  7. shalice noel says:

    Carrie – hot stuff! Love the jacket and booties combo 😉

    1. Carrie says:

      Ah why thank you, Shalice! Much appreciated. Xo

  8. Jenn Lake says:

    So perfectly chic! The textures in this look are SO good!

    1. Carrie says:

      Thanks a bunch, Jenn! Xo

  9. Alissa says:

    You are like the coolest human alive. I LOVE your outfits!
    The Adored Life

    1. Carrie says:

      Ha! Not hardly. But that’s awfully nice of you to say, Alissa.

  10. Sydney says:

    This was such a great read! I am writing this down and putting it up in my closet to try and use this repetition! I am just loving those booties! I can’t wait to wear velvet this fall!

    lots of love … Sydney

    1. Carrie says:

      Thanks for saying that, Sydney. I love how you can consciously use design principles to elevate your fashion.

  11. Alyssa Renee says:

    These boots are so awesome! You styled them so well! =)

    Follow Me:
    Instagram | 
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    1. Carrie says:

      Thanks so much, Alyssa. Have a great weekend.

  12. Sarah W. says:

    I’m loving the wine/marsala color on you, Carrie. This post is so informative, and it’s great for sharing with non-fashion and fashion lovers alike! Have a great weekend.


    Sarah | The Bella Insider | @sarah_thebella

    1. Carrie says:

      Thanks a ton, sweet Sarah!

  13. Tina says:

    I came over to read your sister’s article and there was my name. What a coincidence. So truly flattered by your kind words. I need to keep up with your blog, even if yours is the only one I read. I had basically cut out blog reading due to time constraint. But you have so much valuable information and inspiration. Love the professional and comprehensive approach you’ve taken. One of the best fashion blogs period. Excited what the future holds for you. ?

    1. Carrie says:

      Ah, thank you, Tina. That means a ton coming from you. I was hoping you would notice the mention. You are truly an inspiration to me!

  14. Anastasia says:

    These boots and jacket were made for each other! Love.

    1. Carrie says:

      Thanks so much, A! Hope you’re having a great weekend.

  15. 4Styler says:

    Hello Carrie! Great tips, thank you for sharing! I’ve seen on more repetitive elements – color of you jeans and the shades of the wall behind you)

    1. Carrie says:

      Good eye! You’re exactly right. 🙂

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