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?