Posts Tagged: accessories

Reader Request: Comfortable Belts

comfortable belts

Reader Brenna had this request:

I love the look of a belt adding a waist to a shapeless outfit, but I hate the feeling of a belt squeezing me. I can’t stand the feeling of spanx or pantyhose either! What kind of belts would you suggest?

Totally understand, Brenna. Nothing like a squeezy belt to cramp your style. No pun intended. (I think that was a pun. And if it was, I definitely didn’t intend it.)

Squeezing can come in many forms, but if part of the issue is that your belts are thick or stiff, try out a few wrap belts. Wide, obi-style wrap belts like the one above from Elizabeth Kelly can work, but do take up quite a bit of torso real-estate. So if you’re worried about shortening your torso, you’re better served to find narrower wraps. Look for something made from soft, supple leather or faux leather – this one from Anthropologie looks promising.

For an even softer option, consider sashes. You can use long scarves as belts, but there are also pre-made cloth sashes to be found. or made. Or if you’re handy with a sewing machine, you can make one yourself.

My guess is this is not the direction Brenna would like to head, but since my own squeezy discomfort is most noticeable when I’m sitting and my midsection expands somewhat, elastic belts could be another solution. They will be snug at all times, of course, but they move with you and flex when you flex. You can look for woven elastics like this one, flat elastics, or styles with elastic panels like these guys.

Finally, if you want waist definition without a belt, here are some other ways to achieve it!

Image courtesy Elizabeth Kelly London.

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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:


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:


… 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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Reader Request: When Matchy-matchy Makes Sense

matchy matchy

Reader Patricia had this request:

I know you mentioned a little while ago that soon you’d write a post about the benefits of matchy-matchy — yes please! I’d also love to see that expand into something about the different attitudes and situations when matchy-matchy works, as opposed to more contrast (if that makes sense?).

I must’ve been born too late, friends, because 50’s style matchy-matchy STILL makes more sense to me than looks that “go.” Pretty much across the board. I feel that matched accessories create unity and visual harmony, and that striking the right balance of complimentary but different accessory colors is often more trouble than it’s worth. Two matched accessories total is a good cap – when your belt, shoes, bag, and earrings are all the same color, it can get a little overwhelming – but those two matched accessories are like outfit bookends. Neat, harmonious, unifying.

Since that is not the current preference, though, I’m happy to suggest a few times when matching will trump going:

If your outfit is retro-influenced

Since this is a practice born in a bygone era, vintage and throwback outfits are the perfect time to employ it. Anything that hearkens back to the 40s through 60s will make visual sense with matched accessories. Not a requirement, obviously, but a choice that will seem natural.

For formal occasions

This is a personal preference for me, and I’m not sure how others will feel. If I’m getting truly dressed up – like just-shy-of-ballgown dressed up – matching accessories feel sophisticated and appropriate. I’m unlikely to do complementary but different shoes and clutch if I’m fancied up.

When you’ve got three solid colors at play

If your outfit already includes three (or more) colors, introducing accessories in multiple colors or tones will make things look a bit chaotic. Use matched accessories to create cohesion.

Whenever you need visual unity

Even if you’re not wearing three solids at once, you may feel like your outfit isn’t hanging together quite right. This often happens with print/pattern mixing and outfits that contain juxtaposed genres (moto jacket and tulle skirt), but it may surface unexpectedly in any outfit. A little bit of matchy can fix you right up.

Aside: If matching your shoes and belt or belt and bag doesn’t appeal, try matching your shoes and earrings/necklace. Naturally, this works best when you’re doing colorful shoes, but it’s a great, subtle way to bracket your look with harmonious accessories. And feels more modern and less matchy to many women.

NOW. In terms of matchy clothing? Matched sets are extremely trendy right now, but I think this is a trend that’s still evolving. I honestly don’t know what to say yet because the matching that is happening is rather suit-like: Top and skirt in the exact same print. I think if you were to do a scarf and pants or skirt in the same print, it wouldn’t fit within this particular trend, but might still look appealingly retro. I’m curious to know what you all think.

About matchy in general, too! Do you prefer to match a couple of your accessories? Absolutely never match? What are your personal guidelines and tips?

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