The shabby elegant style originated in Britain during the war years. Unable to buy new clothing or fabric due to rationing, residents had to launder and mend clothes to make them last much longer than they normally would, leading to faded fabrics in washed-out colors.
This muted color scheme characterizes the shabby yet chic style of today, which emphasizes soft colors, neutrals and pastels. Clothes appear as though they've been washed and mended a million times, even if they're brand new. Skip the bold or dark colors and look for fabrics in shades like cream, ivory, white, faded gray and pastels such as robin's egg blue or celadon green for a classic, timeless look.
Mixing and matching patterns is fine too. The muted color scheme that characterizes this style keeps patterns from clashing, so go ahead and pair your stripes and florals, or polka dots and paisley.