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3 Essential Matching Rules

Figuring out which pieces match and which do not can sometimes seem like an impossible task. Some lucky people are naturally talented at knowing the rules of fashion, but most of us need a little help in that department. For that second group, here are 3 tips that will give you a major leg up on the competition.

Make sure the pieces of your outfit are related.

Related pieces are ones which, for example, are in primary colors (red, yellow, or blue) or some variation thereof; complementary colors, the ones across from each other on the color wheel; or analogous colors, colors that are next to each other on the color wheel. If you choose to match complementary colors, be aware that they are defined as such because they provide the most possible contrast. Since such dynamic combinations are not usually considered wholly appropriate for the office, you’ll probably want to tone down these colors for your work look. And don't forget about neutrals! These classic colors help to ground an outfit and are not prey to rapidly changing trends; therefore, it's wise to keep several in a rotation in your wardrobe. Neutral suit separates take much of the guesswork out of creating a matching outfit because they naturally match with most other colors. Simply choose cooler neutrals to pair with cool colors and pair warm-tone neutrals with warm colors.

2. Conversely, don’t go matching mad!

Simply put, don’t pair the exact same colors and patterns in all of your pieces. One easy way to coordinate pieces without going monochromatic is to identify a secondary color in one piece (say, a blue stripe) and pick out a coordinating piece in that color. You can turn a monochromatic look into a style “do,” however if you break it up with a contrasting piece. Mix and match to create an outfit using our wool matching separates. As a general rule, the key to a truly sharp look is giving your outfit a singular focus: a central point that the eye can focus upon, such as a chic accessory.

3. Mix and match patterns, but do it the right way.

As far as patterns go, the general rule is small + big, or conversely, big + small. This means that you should pair one piece with a wide or large pattern and another piece with a pattern that is more subtle; otherwise, the outfit will not have that all-important focus. Just keep in mind that bolder patterns – as well as brighter colors – are considered more casual, so if you’re dressing for business, tend towards patterns that are small, fine, and overall more subtle. Forgoing patterns and choosing solid pieces is always an option as well.

Exclusive Tip

One of our favorite tools on the website is the Matching Items link on product pages, which makes it easy for you to purchase each item in the pictured outfit and thus to recreate the look at home. To the left is one example of such a featured items list. For example, all of our dress shirts have matching accessories that have been hand-picked by our buyers each season – simply click on the Matching Items link to view them and add to cart! Indeed, the vast majority of our products have been paired with pants, shirts, belts, shoes, and anything else you could want to complete your look. Putting together an outfit has never been so simple.

If you’re still feeling lost, don’t worry. The most important thing is that you feel comfortable in what you wear. All in all, the importance of confidence cannot be overstated. Any style maverick can tell you that projecting a sense of confidence is often the key to selling any outfit, so don’t be afraid to do some experimenting!
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