Posts Categorized: accessories

Reader Request: Go Versus Match

matchy matchy

Reader Roxane posed this great question:

What’s the difference between accessories that “go” and ones that are “matchy-matchy”? For example, if you’re wearing all silver accessories (necklace, bracelet, shoes) is that matchy-matchy? Would you need to mix metals to have things that “go” and still stay metallic? 

I wonder which assumes the need for a large supply of accessories (and thus perhaps a larger budget) – being matchy-matchy or having things that “go.” (Of course, if you stick to a very small color palette, this isn’t an issue.)

You all know I love talking matchy. Just a quick reminder: Matchy-matchy is not a crime, no matter what the magazines say. If you love matching your accessories, do it.

Matchy can apply to the clothing within outfits, but it’s more generally discussed in terms of accessories. Roxane’s question about jewelry is an interesting one: In my opinion, wearing necklace, bracelet, and earrings that are all silver is not matchy at all UNLESS they are part of a jewelry set that has repeating elements and motifs. Their silver-ness alone doesn’t make them matchy. I think wearing jewelry that’s in the same metallic family makes visual sense. If it feels like overload, try doing earrings and bracelet in one metal, necklace in another (or in a color) – that gives you a little distance between the two similar items and the chance to bring in a dissimilar third.

Silver necklace, bracelet, and shoes? That might be verging on matchy territory depending on how prominent the silver of the jewelry is and how shiny the shoes look. If you wanted to go with metallic accents beyond jewelry, it might be best to do at least one that isn’t silver.

When I think of matchy-ness, I mostly think about non-jewelry accessories. So, here’s an example:

mustardtealred_outfit

By doing a red necklace, belt, and shoes – three red pops in three different areas within the outfit – this is already matchy-matchy. If I were carrying a red handbag, too, that would be extreme overkill in my opinion. I like to think of two matched elements as being unifying without getting matchy. So this:

redyel_outfit

… works much better. There’s still red and yellow, but only two red elements, a non-red belt, and a non-red bag. Other variations that would’ve worked include:

  • Red belt, red shoes, non-red necklace, non-red bag
  • Red belt, red bag, non-red necklace, non-red shoes
  • Red necklace, red belt, non-red shoes, non-red bag
  • Red necklace, non-red belt, non-red shoes, red bag

Etc. Go ahead and match your shoes and belt, just make sure they’re the only matched items to keep things contemporary. Also consider tights, earrings, bracelets, scarves, and hats as potential elements to match or mix.

It’s a little harder to describe what it means for accessories to “go.” In this older post on the subject, I say that accessories that go are different colors from each other and don’t pick up on any elements present in the design or colors of the outfit’s garments. But everything is harmonious, similar without echoing. The outfit on the right at the top of this post “goes,” since it includes a burgundy belt, teal bag, and leopard shoes.

In terms of which route requires a larger budget and/or supply of accessories, my guess is matchy-matchy would create a bigger burden. If you need to have belts, bags, and shoes that match exactly and want them in multiple colors, that’ll get expensive. If your accessories are either all one color or in mix-and-matchable neutrals/colors, you’ll have more variety using fewer pieces.

What are your rules for matching accessories? Would even two matched items feel like too much to you?

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This Week I Love …

… distressed leather bags.

Earlier this year, I was on a mission to find a leather bag that looked like it had been left in the rain, run over by a semi, and buried in the yard for a few months. I’ve written about my affection for distressed leather boots before, but have generally gravitated toward sleeker bags. Until I shifted my style toward the casual and edgy, at which point a beat-up-looking bag felt like just the thing.

Here are some of the options I considered, and a few I’ve been ogling lately:

stick dog leather

Stick Dog Leather Crossbody Bag – $155

I own one of Bret’s gorgeous bags (seen here and here) and can tell you from personal experience that the leather is thick but not stiff, and truly lovely in person. As distressed leathers go, this one is on the subtle side, but it has a distinct marl to it that lends personality and edge. Plus, get a load of that cool hardware.

frye cameron tote

FRYE Cameron Tote Handbag – $281.47 with code BAGS20OFF

If you thought Frye boots were spendy, take a look at their bags. This little lover clocks in at nearly $700 full price, so it’s quite a bargain. Well, relatively speaking. I’ve actually ordered a few bags from the Cameron line and sent them all back for one reason or another, but I was impressed by how beautifully distressed the leathers were. For an even more beat-up look, peek at the Deborah bags.

rough and tumble leather bags

Rough and Tumble Waxed Canvas and Leather Tote – $178

I bought one of Natasha’s sling bags on super sale a couple of months ago, and it is exquisitely made. You can mix and match materials for most of her designs, and she incorporates some gorgeous waxed canvases for a few bags like this better-than-basic tote. That vintage brown leather base has such a perfectly distressed look to it.

free people distressed leather

Free People Asher Vegan Tote – $98

Yep, even vegan leather can be distressed! Love the two-tone design of this one, the edgy black hardware, and the fact that it’s nice and roomy at 17.5″ x 11.75″4 x 5.25″.

liebeskind bag

Liebeskind Berlin Vanessa Double Dye Bag – $177.03 with code BAGS20OFF

I first saw this brand at Anthropologie a few years back, and have been smitten ever since. Their designs tend to be simple, but with thoughtful details and this roomy dual-strap bag is no exception. I love this distressed brick red, but it also comes in two beautifully mottled brown leathers.

faux leather crossbody

T-Shirt & Jeans Washed Crossbody Bag – $28

“Washed” is another term used to describe leathers both real and faux that have an aged or well-loved look to them. This bag is small and faux leather, so it’s quite a bargain. But still large enough for wallet, phone, and keys and would look perfect with a printed sundress and gladiator sandals.

distressed satchel

Leather Handbag Satchel – $145

I bought a bright red leather backpack from Beckie many years ago, and it is both durable and beautifully constructed. She’s started to work with vintage-finish leathers, and I’m drooling over virtually all of them. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but this rolled-handle satchel with a nice, long shoulder strap is definitely in the running.

Anyone else a fan of distressed leather? Got your eye on any bags for the coming season?

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Reader Request: Pairing Earrings and Statement Necklaces

earrings and statement necklaces

Reader Sarah e-mailed me this question:

I tend to gravitate toward matchy-matchy pieces, perhaps because they seem safe and that’s primarily what was modeled growing up in a rural community. In particular, I struggle to find earrings that go with statement necklaces, especially when one or the other contains colored stones or beads. Most of my earrings tend to be relatively short drops, but at times they seem to detract from or contrast with the necklaces. If I go without either the earrings or necklace, my look seems incomplete; earrings tend to disappear into my curly hair or my neck feels too open. Any advice?

With a statement necklace, I always default to studs. Since the necklace and earrings are close to each other, you don’t want them to compete and long, dangly earrings will definitely group with a big necklace and give the impression of a lot of jewelry. However, my ears are entirely exposed because of my short hair, so all earrings are quite visible on me. In Sarah’s case, she’s got thick, curly hair that can obscure small earrings. A large stud may still work, but the next step is simple drop earrings. You want your earrings to stay fairly close to your lobes so true danglers may look like overkill, but something with a single gem or small dangly element should work in most cases.

If your necklace has colored stones or beads and you’d rather not match their color with your earrings, you can do studs or drops in whatever metal is used in the necklace’s hardware. If that creates a visual disconnect for you, repeat the metal in your bracelet or watch. So, basically, match your bracelet and earrings and let the necklace stand alone.

Those are my rules of thumb. What are yours? How to you pick earrings to complement your big, statement-y necklaces?

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