In the same straight-talking style that has made TLC’s What Not to Wear a smash hit for eight seasons, Clinton Kelly shows women how to outfit themselves with confidence and style. From his book Oh No She Didn’t: The Top 100 Style Mistakes Women Make and How to Avoid Them.
I’ve heard so many people reminisce about Garanimals with longing and nostalgia. “Oh, life was so easy back then. You’d match the pants with the tiger tag to the top with the tiger tag and you’d be ready for school in no time! Man, those were the days.”
Is it just me or is matching rust-orange corduroys to a rust-orange polo shirt about as difficult as picking your eight-year-old nose? I mean, come on. If you can’t do this without the help of animal tags by the second grade, you need more than after-school tutoring.
Matching your top to your bottom makes you look simpleminded, completely out-of-date, or just plain old. Style has changed since the 1950s. It’s not about wearing the perfectly matching set as it is displayed on a mannequin. It’s about putting pieces together with your own twist.
Look, if you absolutely love a print that comes in both a blouse and a skirt, I suppose you could buy both pieces. But for the love of Lagerfeld, DO NOT WEAR THEM TOGETHER.
I know many women have a difficult time matching pieces, and that’s because things don’t need to “match,” they need to “go.” For example, forest green and sage green don’t match, but they go, so you can wear a sage green sweater with a forest green suede boot. Another example is gold and yellow; they don’t match, but you could wear a blouse that has some gold in the print with jeans and a yellow flat.
Speaking of jeans, they’re neutral, so any color or print works with denim. Other neutrals are black, gray, navy, brown, khaki, and white. Technically, any color goes with any neutral, and all neutrals go with each other. Some colors and neutrals pair better than others. A few combinations don’t work so well:
BLACK + ORANGE = Halloween
GREEN + ORANGE = Pumpkin
BLACK + YELLOW = Bumblebee
RED + GREEN = Christmas
And you may be wondering whether you can wear black and navy together or black and brown. The answer is yes and yes. The key to making both of those neutral combinations work is intention. A very dark navy blue that looks almost black paired with actual black will make it seem like you got dressed in the dark. But a lighter navy can be paired with black without a problem.
Black and brown have a similar relationship. Very dark chocolate brown is harder to pair with black than, say, a milk-chocolate brown. And I’ve found that the best way to combine black and brown is by using a print that contains both neutrals. Maybe you’ve got an abstract geometric print blouse that contains purple, black, and brown. You could wear it with black trousers (because there’s black in the print) and a brown jacket (because there’s also brown in the print).
When a woman tells me that she is absolutely hopeless at putting outfits together and still cannot grasp the concept of “going,” I advise her to keep all her bottoms neutral. If she owns:
- A BLACK PENCIL SKIRT
- GRAY TROUSERS
- DARK-WASH JEANS
- AND/OR WHITE WALKING SHORTS
she’ll be hard-pressed to find a top that doesn’t go with at least one of those bottoms.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Clinton Kelly is the cohost of TLC’s popular show What Not to Wear, a spokesperson for Macy’s, and a motivational speaker who has successfully talked thousands of women out of stirrup pants. He has worked as an editor at several noted fashion publications, including Marie Claire and Mademoiselle. In his book Oh No She Didn’t: The Top 100 Style Mistakes Women Make and How to Avoid Them (Copyright © 2010 by Clinton Kelly), Clinton points out the hundreds of fashion mistakes women most commonly make and describes how to fix them.
MORE ARTICLES BY THE AUTHOR
- 5 Top Fashion Mistakes Women Make and How to Avoid Them
- 6 Style “Don’ts” and How to Fix Them
- Shoes Always Set the Tone for an Outfit
- Read the Introduction to Oh No She Didn’t: The Top 100 Style Mistakes Women Make and How to Avoid Them
- Learn more about Oh No She Didn’t, a delightful mix of hilarious dish and expert fashion advice