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How To Match Your Clothing When It Doesn’t Match – Let’s Mix It Up


Jane Aldridge of Sea Of Shoes

A “personal style” blog is a web log that features individuals dolled up in their creative best. Sometimes the blog focuses on just one person, the creator of the blog, like Jane Aldridge of Sea of Shoes. Other personal style blogs focus on the personal style of others, like the Satorialist. If you have seen a personal style blog in any form you are familiar with a constant theme… their outfits rarely match, yet they work. Many of my clients come to me asking how it is done. “I know I don’t like the matchy-matchy look,” a recent client said to me, “but I don’t know what else goes together.”

Putting together an eclectic outfit, doesn’t have a formula like many looks I have recommended. It’s not as simple as: when you wear leggings, your top should reach at least half-way down your bum and no longer than four inches past your bum.

This mixed up look constantly featured on blogs, celebrities, young adults and the elderly is more like art. Similar to art, it should flow, but it doesn’t need to make sense. Think Jackson Pollack. With that said, here are a few tips on matching your clothing when it doesn’t match.

Fit is perfection.

If you really have no idea what you are doing, make sure everything fits. Putting on an over-sized leather jacket with an awkward length cotton dress and neon high-top sneakers will look unique, but it isn’t going to look especially stylish, but a fitted leather jacket over a short cotton dress paired with high-top sneakers is edgy. You want to keep the rules of a flattering silhouette in mind. If you are wearing a voluminous skirt, pair it with a slim top, or tucked in shirt. If you are wearing a billowing blouse, slim pants are best for a slim appearance.

Mimic one idea to anchor the look.

Pictured above , Jane chose to use polka dots twice, once in her top, then in her socks. As long as one thing is used twice in a clutter of colors, textures and garments, the look automatically seems put together and thought out.


Separate this common theme mentioned in #2. If you don’t separate it, for instance, if you are combining black biker boots with black leather leggings and a 80’s sweatshirt on top, it looks like you were originally wearing a biker outfit, but you got cold and someone, perhaps an out-of-date gentleman caller, lent you a sweater. This biker-meets-80’s look will look purposeful only if you separate common denominators. Put the 80’s casual wear in between the biker parts. Keep the biker boots, put on 80’s pants, then introduce the biker aspect on top as a jacket or leather vest. Underneath could be a plain tank top.

Stick with the same tone and style.

This is for the less daring – those interested in not looking like a weirdo. If you are going to mix a bunch of colors or fabrics, keep the same tone. If you have a classic button front, put on classic pants and classic shoes and classic jewelry. Doesn’t matter that they are all different colors and patterns. The classic silhouette will sew the look together. Want to mix boho? Combine that feather print tunic, with a fringe vest, butterfly printed pants and moccasins. As long as each piece says Bohemian, than the colors, patterns and fabrics don’t need to speak the same language. It is relevant, yet differentiated.


Maria Shirapova in Vanessa Bruno top and Etro skirt

Pick a color.

This is for those wanting the chicest of a non matching outfit. If you take a look at Maria Shirapova in her Vanessa Bruno top and Etro skirt, it does not look like an obvious pairing. Yet, she looks fabulous. This is why… let’s use the skirt as the outfit’s focal point. Look at the colors in the skirt. Tell me, what is the least obvious color in the skirt? Which color is used the least? At first glance, all I see is red. Second glance reveals purple, blue and cream. Cream wins as the least used. That is the color the top should be to create that je ne sais quoi look, but a plain cream is still too obvious. It should have texture or a monotone pattern. Enter the Vanessa Bruno top with neutral lined pattern of cream and grey. Her red shoes end the outfit, but I would have loved to see a grey heel to play up the grey stripes of the top. The red is too obvious and too close to the skirt. Red sunglasses would have been a nice alternative to introducing the color red into the outfit for the second time because the neutral tones of the shirt would separate the two red items. I will be posting a video on this topic next week.

Pick a Fabric.

This is similar to style and color in that you choose one thing to mimic. Want to play with patterns and colors in a nilly willy way? Want to pair an orange and navy polka dot top and pink skirt with galloping horses printed on them? Do it all in silks. Then, if you’d like, incorporate advice #2 and mimic one idea to anchor the look. Try tucking the silk polkadot top into the pink silk skirt, then add a turquoise patent leather skinny belt and matching turquoise patent leather sandal wedges. This craziness sounds awesome.

Just pile it on.

Just do it. Pile it all on. You like that hip skirt? Put it on. You like the “Sit On It” Tee? Put it on. You like that leather jacket? Put it on. You like orange ballet flats? Put it on. This is supposed to be a cluttered look so just do what feels good. People are running around in sneakers and gowns. Why? Because they just did it. It felt nice and they went with it. This look is all about your whimsy. Put on whatever you want. Sequin top with sweat pants – well, fine. Go right ahead.

Leave a note for Vanessa.

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