Carefree Coordinates: How to coordinate colors without looking "matchy"

Photo Credit @lizv photography

Photo Credit @lizv photography

Visual interest. Achieving visual interest in an outfit is what makes people stop you and say, Ooh, I love your outfit. Generally there's something that their eye is drawn to, and they can't help but comment. Visual interest can come in a lot of forms, most notably through color, pattern, texture, and shine. Subtle (or bold) cues involving these themes speak to us in a third eye kind of way -- we don't know why we like it or what it's doing to us, but girrrllll, you look good.


One of the questions I get asked a lot as a stylist is, what goes with what? How do I know what matches, or goes together?

When I was still working full time as a consultant in public education reform, colleagues would say, "I never would have thought to put that with that, but I love it!" Now that's one of the things I love hearing most when I help my styling clients with their wardrobes. So how do you achieve visual interest at home?  

Let's start with color. I could write a treatise on this, but we're going to keep it simple.  

Step 1: Choose a base item.

A base item could be a skirt, pants, a top -- whatever you're excited about pairing with something else.  

Pencil Skirt, J. Crew (old) Similar  here

Pencil Skirt, J. Crew (old) Similar here

I wanted to wear this printed skirt. I like the paisley print and textured fabric. But tops to pair with it..., hmm. 

Matchy shirting choices: red, powder blue, white. Totally appropriate, but devastatingly boring. 

We can do better.

Top, Comptoir des Cotonniers; similar  here  Belt, LOFT, similar  here

Top, Comptoir des Cotonniers; similar here Belt, LOFT, similar here

Here's the trick:  

Choose one color in the base item and pair it with something in a color adjacent on the color wheel. I chose blue, and purple is next to blue on the color wheel. So, blue and purple are friends. Instead of a dark purple I kept the look light and summery by going with a lighter purple shade in this lavender top. See? Easy peasy.  

I also could have gone orange (or peach for a lighter tonal version), or pink, both sitting next to red on the color wheel.  

Saddlebag, Dooney & Bourke

Saddlebag, Dooney & Bourke

I kept my accessories neutral. You've gotta have a good tan or beige belt in your arsenal, and I'm a sucker for the classic styling of this mini saddlebag. I got mine in 1998. Yes, I am old. You can find similar ones here and here.  

Happy Pairing out there! Tag me @brandeisnicole on Instagram in pics of your newly paired outfits! 

All Photo Credit @ Liz V. Photography

Dooney & Bourke, $148 (sale), Free People, $40 Rebecca Minkoff, $195, Kate Spade, $198

How to Wear Shorts and Heels

I am not generally a shorts and heels kinda gal. It can get a little, prosti...

But last Friday I needed something that would transition well from day to, ahem, date night. A day full of errands and appointments meant I needed to stay cool in the heat and still look like I put in a little effort. 

Here's where we landed: 

photo credit @ronnie andren

photo credit @ronnie andren


Why It Works: 

These styling tips will keep you firmly in the classy, not trashy, lane.  

1. Mix something tight, short, and/or fitted with something that has volume and a relaxed feel. 

The top is casual and relaxed, while still being fitted enough to keep my shape defined. And the shorts are tailored in shape, but not tight. You want this look to read cool, with a little moxie. Too tight anything in this look and you'll need to lace up your skates for the roller derby. 

Lindsey calls these shorts "leg doilies". Not 100% sure that's a compliment, but I love these! 

Lindsey calls these shorts "leg doilies". Not 100% sure that's a compliment, but I love these! 

2. Use accessories to give the look some edge. You want the vibe to be cool but not cold or standoffish.

Create a V shape with your jewelry to elongate your figure even more while also focusing the attention where it should be. Up toward your lovely face!


3. Wear a "tough" heel.  

This isn't the time to be tottering around in your pointiest thin-strap stilettos. It'll read vampy, not effortlessly gorg. Your shoes should anchor the look and provide some edge.  Plus, a conical heel or a stacked square heel on a city sandal will help with stability so you can go on about your stylish business without slowing down.