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May 2, 2012

Matchy-matchy style -- YEA OR NAY?



Readers, today I challenge you to dig a little deeper than usual.  In fact, you might want to lie down on your couch, close your eyes, and free associate.  I want to know how you feel about matchy-matchy dressing.

Matchy-matchy...the very term connotes contempt, am I right?  Whereas matching is like, red skirt, red shoes, matchy-matchy is red skirt, red shoes, matching red lips and nails, coordinating gloves, hat and veil -- you get the idea.








Matchy-matchy evokes the marvelous art direction of all those widescreen technicolor movies of the Fifties, classics like Imitation of Life or Pillow Talk, the latter's matchy-matchy aesthetic sent up recently in the movie Down With Love.  

Down With Love -- terrible film, cute art direction

And yet it seems matchy-matchy is enjoying a revival.  Maybe it's due to nostalgia for mid-century formality (and prosperity and optimism), maybe it simply reflects the normal back-and-forth swing of the style pendulum.  Or maybe it's the vintage sewing blogs.  Or Mad Men.  Or all of the above!







Cathy is totally a matchy-matchy young mother-to-be.  And who can blame her?  Matchy-matchy looks better.  It says, I care.  You match your clothes and accessories not just for yourself, but because it makes the world a prettier place.







I'm not a particularly matchy-matchy person myself, but I am open to exploring the possibilities.



I think matchy-matchy is harder to pull of today simply because women (and the above photo notwithstanding, matchy-matchy is more closely associated with women's fashion than men's) don't accessorize the way they used to.  Most women don't wear gloves and hats anymore, let alone opera coats with linings that match that dress!





What can you really match-with-what today?  Bag and shoes?



Flank steak and prosciutto?



I think sites like Polyvore allow us to explore our matchy-matchy fantasies without ever having to leave the house (or wear opera-length gloves in public).  Matching is a very basic human instinct, after all -- a way of imposing order on the chaos.


Readers, how do you feel about matchy-matchy?  Do you try to match your clothes and accessories or don't you bother? 

Does matchy-matchy seem dated-- a throwback to the days of girdles and veiled hats -- or chic and of-the-moment?

Matchy-matchy style -- yea or nay?


51 comments:

  1. When my daughters were small, i LOVED matchy-matchy...one particular outfit comes to mind; matching pants, waist coats, turtle necks, boots and hair accessories...not only did my daughters match each other but so did the pants and waist coats, in all their mustard farmyard animal print glory LMAO. I am yet to be forgiven for the particular matchy-matchy ensemble hahaha

    For myself, i'm not at all matchy-matchy it makes me feel a little too contrived.

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    1. Interesting...

      To me contrived means "intentional." And I guess matchy-matchy is exactly that; it takes a lot of conscious effort.

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  2. I even love the word matchy-matchy, which is self-descriptive!

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  3. Just like anything Matchy-Matchy can be fun in moderation

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  4. I do matchy matchy for the reasons you describe. Because it makes me look intentional. I match my purse, shoes and headwrap (I wear a headwrap daily, and have an armoire for them alone!). I also match all my jewelry. The only exception to the rule, are my wedding ring and class ring. I wear those with everything and rarely take them off.

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  5. Peter, this reminds me of that Golden Girls episode when Dorothy fibs that she's staring at someone because "your belt and shoes don't match." I'm a few years older than you, so growing up, shoe, belt, and purse color all had to match. Silver and gold jewelry couldn't mix, etc. My mom and I had a few matching mother-daughter dresses when I was in grade school. So I don't think matchy-matchy (a great term, as Michael notes) is always bad. I like matching things when it looks good, and mixing them up when it looks good. The trick is in knowing when *not* to match or mix, I think!

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  6. I love matchy-matchy fashion! I frequently wear outfits that have matchy elements (& not just black ;-).

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  7. I feel like matchy-matchy is too restrictive. It's safe- thats not bad, but I like a little bi-polar in my dressing....

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  8. It really depends on my mood. I love the look of some things all matchy-matchy, and I love the looks of matchy and of barely coordinated.
    I have a bright red croc embossed purse....I feel like red is a neutral and goes with everything...even it it doesn't match. When I want to look polished and upscale, I will do the matchy-mtachy thang and yes, it is fun to say!

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  9. I love it, but not to the extreme! As far as men are concerned, I made myself a color-blocked black and cerulean blue sweatshirt in fleece with a matching muffler. I wore it over black pants and when I went into the office I was stopped twice before I got to my desk by co-workers telling me they loved it! This made me start thinking about quitting and sewing full time! LOL!!

    To me the epitome of matching and co-coordinating was Halston!! He made women look sleek, modern and timeless! I think very few people are able to mix prints and patterns the way that Vogue and Bazaar advocates. Don't forget that what you see on their pages is planned by a team of stylists and editors. I've seen too many people look like walking disasters when they try to pull that off!

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  10. Conversely, is there a slobby-slob look? Blue jeans, message T-shirts, and hi-top sneakers? Which image does one want to project to others and that person in the mirror? We are suffering a massive cultural breakdown. Fashion is something we need to bring us back to be more high society than low. The coordinated, intentional, planned look sets a standard. Matchy-matchy conveys dignity and pride. Of late, it also is a revolt against the sameness of mass produced ill fitting apparel.

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  11. I think the rise of denim jeans as all-occasion wear for people of all ages and genders has somewhat killed the put-together matchy-matchy look. Maybe I just feel that way because I live in the Pacific Northwest where the grunge look began...and has yet to leave almost 20 years later. There's just no point trying to be matchy-matchy if all one is doing is pulling on a T-shirt (or a flannel one) with a pair of jeans. Personally, it depends on my mood whether I try to match or to contrast, but usually I think I tend to play it safe and do more matching than not. My mother's "rule" tends to come to mind as I dress, and I find myself checking to make sure the color I'm trying to contrast with is present on my person in at least 3 places.

    Maybe the next generation will have more sense. My 7 y/o son lets me know he feels much more put together when his suit, tie, shirt and socks are all the same color. He doesn't call it "matchy-matchy" though, he calls it "being monochromatic."

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    1. I'm impressed with that seven-year-old! LOL

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    2. When my son was three, he was the same way. And if one piece got dirty, he would change his entire outfit so he fully matched again. That lasted until her was about 6. LOL Good times, good times.........

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    3. My son was like that from 4-about 8. If he wore a red shirt, the pants and socks had to be red, too. When we shopped for school clothes he kept that in mind. What a guy!

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  12. I am lying down on my couch right now, so I figured it was time for me to tackle this topic! lol. (Though we won't go too deep into *why* I'm lying on the sofa--though it involves an ice pack on my knee after my puppy tripped me on the concrete floor. OUCH!)

    I have to say I've always loved matchy-matchy! I think partly it has to do with my mom who has always "matched" and growing up watching so many of those old movies. I honestly didn't know that matching was "bad" until I was about 20/21. I struggled through the whole trend of *not* matching, and eventually just gave up in favor of matching the way I liked it. I don't tend to go all out (I rarely wear gloves except in the winter and hats are only occasional!), but usually my shoes and handbag at the matching aspects. Or the other day I matched my earrings with my brooch (though not a matching set--that might be a little too much matching even for me!). I love it, even though it does tend to garner "granny" comments from people. hehe!

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  13. I'm matchy-matchy by nature! I generally try to match, but don't stress too much about it. I know some people try very hard not to look too contrived, and Carolyn is probably right that it stems from the grunge era, as a sort of 'don't care' attitude. I was going to suggest punk too, but thinking about it they were actually quite matchy-matchy!

    Maybe I get it from my mother who must have been like SuziWong - she dressed my sister and I in the same clothes - different colours if we were lucky! But you will be very pleased to hear that the dress I am sewing at the moment is contrasty-contrasty!

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  14. I'm also very fond of matchy-matchy, and it's the 'vintageness' of it that I find especially appealing. I loved the 60s look of the opened coat, revealing a dress in the fabric matching the coat lining. One of my favorite moments of that in film is in "Die, Mommie, Die!" a film by Charles Busch (very funny stuff). His character Angela Arden returns from visiting her sister's grave and opens her coat to reveal said matching dress and lining. It was such a nice surprise, I think I even squeaked.

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    1. I actually was trying to find just that image of Charles Busch, but I wasn't able to.

      It's funny that the men seem very much in favor of the matchy-matchy aesthetic!

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  15. I say YEA,YEA AND YEA to matchy matchy!
    I suspect I am the matchy matchy queen....

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  16. Recently did the "dress-alike couple" thing with flannel shirts. Twas fun!

    Matching or eclectic, it's all part each individual's personal/public mix.

    Sometimes the spice of life is in fact, the meal.

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  17. Not that it's pixel-note-worthy, but I do match my socks.

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  18. Matchy-Matchy is a little Kitschy-Kitschy, no? But sometimes kitsch is just fun. Side note: Dressing according to the laws of matching is definitely easier than the more mainstream contemporary "eclectic" accessories look. There are a lot of Fasion Don'ts walking the streets of America because they tried to emulate a look created by a stylist and worn by a celebrity, but weren't quite up to the challenge!

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  19. When I think "matchy-matchy," I think of my 92-year-old grandmother, who still occasionally buys complete outfits as a set, and who absolutely must wear matching shoes, belt, and bag.

    I've never been a fan of things that match; I much prefer things that "go with." I like mixing different colors, patterns, and textures into a harmonious look. I never buy or make clothes with the idea that they're going to match anything else in my closet; I simply buy/make what I like and what I want at that particular time. And that works, because I know my own tastes and follow them. I know what colors, styles, and fabrics look good on me. Which means I'm never going to introduce a completely alien element into my wardrobe that can't be assimilated. Whatever I bring in will harmonize with other things I own--and part of the fun of getting dressed is figuring out how to create a look that incorporates the new element.

    Then again, I'm an artist. I love playing with color, texture, pattern and shape, and I'm really confident in my ability to do so. Going matchy-matchy, to me, takes all he fun out of getting dressed. I like the element of risk--"Can I really pull this look off?" is a question I'm not afraid to deal with. And while I do see other women who look chic and elegant in carefully-matched ensembles, I just don't find it very interesting. It just seems too safe, to me.

    Getting back to my grandmother, she's always been extremely concerned with appearing respectable, and lives in terror of being improperly dressed and judged as low-class (my other grandmother was much the same way; both came from very poor backgrounds). Getting creative with her clothes is risky business; she might get it wrong, and be judged by others. So making sure everything matches eliminates a lot of risk. It might not be the most interesting or creative way to dress, but it's at least "correct," which helps assuage some of her anxieties.

    And yes, yes--I know that not everyone who loves to match everything is doing it because they're risk-averse and riddled with anxiety, or because they lack creativity. And I don't think it's "wrong." It's just not my cup of tea.

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    1. As an artist you have an "eye" for color and patterns and can pull off what most couldn't. I've seen people get hooted at for their mixture of patterns and colors. It's not an easy thing to do and yet the fashion press insists upon pushing it on the masses. I hope I don't offend Christian Lacroix's fans to badly, but I absolutely loathe his style! All that insane mixing of patterns is just absurd in my opinion! YUCK!!! lol!!

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  20. I love matchy-matchy but maybe that's because I was a young adult in the late 80s/early 90s. I am still horribly jealous of someone I worked with who had the most perfect wardrobe full of shoes, handbags, and other accessories that all matched. I was completely broke at the time so my wardrobe was completely mismatchy.

    Then again, I am also prone to take the piss out of my best friend because she won't wear a new pair of shoes unless she has a handbag to match!

    I guess I fall in the middle :) Although I love, love, love that "Down with Love" photo you posted - I'm guessing it was a film.

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  21. I've found I do a lot of match-matchy, but it's a collection of accessories that's grown over time, and is built around being the perfect blue-based bright red.

    The red velvet jackets (x2) came first, then the red tops, then lipstick, then a short string of graded red glass beads, followed by a handbag, then snappy (but low and thick) heeled shoes (which is a big problem to find in the current shoe market - slippers or skank shoes and very little that falls into practical but classy), and then came the earrings, the socks, the various stockings, belts, scarves...even went with the same coloured hair for a time. I don't have a hat or a fascinator in red, but if there's ever a call to get one, I'm pretty sure red will be my colour of choice.

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  22. I just bought a 1957 catalogue where one of the models is wearing a fuzzy leopard turban with matching purse and a bright red dress and lipstick. I WANT THAT OUTFIT.

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  23. I'm not matchy-matchy because it sort of looks like one is wearing a costume rather than an outfit. That might be the look one (Cathy?!?) is going for, but not me in day-to-day life.

    Besides, as a student I can't afford to buy shoes to match all my handbags!

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  24. Matchy-matchy has its place, but like anything it can be carried too far. If a man wears brown dress shoes, his belt should also be brown if wearing one (and black for black shoes). But, weather or not that's continued to a matching wallet and matching watch band is certainly personal preference.

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    1. Sigh--of course I meant "whether."

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  25. I think 'coordinating' is more important than 'matching'. Sometimes, they are one and the same. Alternatively you can match *everything*, and it still doesn't coordinate well (if you took the matching a step too far, for example).

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  26. At least once a week I contemplate being really brave and wearing a different earring in each ear. I tell myself that the cherub and the celtic knot will look edgy because they're different but OK becuse they're both silver. And then I retreat and put on two matching earrings in a colour that picks up one of the brights I am wearing to add something to my basic Melbourne style black. I think it's called matching personality disorder. Sigh.

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  27. I'm an unashamed, card-carrying member of the matchy-matchy brigade. I learned it from my mother. It's one of the things I love in 50's films.

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  28. Hate the term, love the look.

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  29. Yesterday, after dinner in an Indian restaurant, the waitress/owner complimented me on my style. I was wearing black shoes, scarlet tights, indigo dress, teal jumper, purple and green tartan coat, yellow pink and blue scarf, and had a striped, sequinned bag (greens, blues, tan, pinks, and silver). I'm about as far from matchy matchy as it is possible to be.

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  30. I like things that go together but not matchy matchy

    Josette

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  31. Oh, nooooo. Matchy-matchy mostly reminds me of being a bridesmaid and obligated to wear satin shoes that had been dyed "butter." Bridesmaid fashion does not translate to real life. Beside, I love pattern too much. If I wore a whole outfit in the same pattern, I'd look like once of those creepy old-lady bedrooms where the curtains, bedding, wallpaper, etc. are all the same.

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  32. the only thing I like to match is my socks to my pants. Otherwise, I am so not a matchy-matchy person! Stacy and Clinton pounded it out of me a few years ago.

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  33. Your sloper looks like a mid 60's shift dress and you are trying for a sheath dress. You'll either need those darts or a princess seam.

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  34. Matchy Matchy really was far more involved in the older generations, where you would have a few very expensive, well co-ordinated outfits. What you lacked in variation week to week, you made up with attention to detail. Perhaps the jones didn't notice your jacket inner matched your dress until the third time you wore it.

    Now people are such consumers that they purchase individual items on a stand alone basis, without any regard to their "look" as a whole. How many of our parents or grandparents had jeans, formal dresses, ponchos and leggings in one cupboard? Plus any work attire.

    Personally, I love attention to detail in an outfit, be it matching shoes and bags or a well put together 'look'.

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  35. Some of matchy-match flew out the window when the now working outside the home career moms didn't have time to change purses everyday to coordinate with an outfit! Gloves and hats were gone by then (except as practical weather protection) and time in the morning was/is at a premium. I love coordination, but come on; getting ahead in the career world requires getting kids to day care and to work on time.

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    1. I suspect you are exactly right, Marilyn.

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  36. Ugh. Matchy matchy is what I will do when I'm a blue hair. It's cute then, to do it now would make me seem older I think.

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  37. Fine for others but it's not what I prefer for myself. When I want to wear purple, I think of wearing it with teal. Or red. To each their own. :)

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  38. I always thought the real value of matchy-matchy was its salutary effect on not-so-gorgeous people, which is most of us. You talk an average schlub or schlubette, slick 'em down, spruce 'em up, dress 'em nice, and suddenly you've got yourself a passably attractive human being - something you don't get from wearing ripped jeans, bondage shoes and every-which-way hair. Only the young and gorgeous can wear the artfully unmatched; it just makes the the rest of us look like we don't care or can't dress. Matchy-matchy can improve ugly people out of all recognition - which is exactly the way you'd want them improved. Bring back matchy-matchy as a mainstream look, and the world would be a better-looking - if not actually better - place.

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  39. I really like matchy-matchy, in fact I have been told I am too matching before, and have tried to mix it up a bit since. My good friend said she didn't like matching 'like the type of thing I wear'. I thought matching was a good thing but she talked about it in a negative light, so now I am not sure where is stand!

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  40. I like some of both but also feel very few even those that think they can are able to pull off the mix everything up routine. I always keep in mind that when one is young and beautiful and less than recommended body weight even walking around in a garbage bag is attractive not so much for everyone else. It is nice that people can choose what makes them happy apparel wise and it makes the world a lot more interesting to view what people choose to wear about. Although I am artistic by nature and love color, clothing wise I prefer monochromatic type themes perhaps with a color accent type accessory carefully chosen. Of course taller thinner people have more leeway when breaking up the optical line illusion but it's difficult for the rest of the world to pull off the fashion mix ups they do that are actually very planned by experts for their tall extra lean beautiful frames.I think personality/occupation,etc. enters into this a lot as well. Some of us mirror our inner selves as conservative and want to blend into the groups we move in and be well dressed to that norm not be the subject of memos or dress codes because we were too grungy or off the wall in appearance.

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  41. I love matchy-matchy! I miss it. I love the dresses with matching coats, and the suits with coordinated blouse and purse. Matchy-matchy certainly made it easier to pull your look together, especially if you are not naturally fashion-gifted.

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  42. All Hail Matchy-Matchy! Doris Day is your patron saint.

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  43. Matchy-matchy is okay. I do it often (with gray) because I have no color coordination. It'd be hard to pull off it's a color other than neutrals (maybe). The monochromatic look can make someone look dated if it's with vintage pieces.

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