Mix And Match: Extend Your Wardrobe With This Guide To Mix And Match Mastery

Mix and match is a desire that I hear from many of my clients.

It is one of the most popular requests I get. So many women suffer from having a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear. Many women take this as a cue that they need to go shop and buy more clothes. Oh, it’s the contrary my friend. The best solution is already right there in your closet. It’s flexing your style muscle and learning how to mix and match what you already own.

Are you ready to get excited about your wardrobe and style again?

I’ve broken it down into several key approaches and categories that will help you rediscover and restyle your clothes. The secret is not more clothes, it’s creating more style to leverage the clothing that you already own to make more outfits that have more impact. The goal here is to look good, feel good, and dress authentically. I may ask you to open your mind to wearing things in new and different ways. You don’t have to embrace and implement all of these. Emulate and use the concepts that work for you. Let’s get started with my ultimate guide to mix and match mastery.

The easiest way to get your mix and match session started is to:

1) Invest in a collapsible rolling rack. This is such a good investment to help you sort and organize your clothes especially if you want to improve your mix and match skills. It will trump trying to lay things out on your bed or in a chair every single time. This rolling rack available Amazon is my favorite! (Affiliate link)

2) Pull several of your staple basics garments that will be compatible with the season you want to focus on. These are neutral colored garments such as:

  • Jeans
  • Black slacks
  • White pants or jean
  • Tees in neutral colors
  • Black blazer
  • Chambray shirt
  • Cardigan

Place these on the rolling rack. Use hangers to hang everything, including sweaters, tees, favorite belts, etc.

3) Use the Merchandising Method. This means working with one main color or palette and compatible fabrications to create and curate your color stories/theme. Just like all the top designers, you’re going to curate and put together garments to create cohesive outfits and maximize mix and match opportunities. Pull all the items that are of the same color, palette, season or vibe and put them on the rolling rack. Include items that may be folded and hang them. This makes it much easier to work with all those items. Pull a couple of basics (from step 2) to help you create outfits. 

4) Create outfits from the color stories or theme with basics. Typical outfit formulas include:

  • pants + tee + blazer
  • skirt + shirt + cardigan
  • dress + cardigan + scarf
  • jeans + cotton shirt + cardigan
  • dress pants + blouse + blazer or cardigan
  • logo or graphic tee + bottom + blazer

5) Take photos. This way you can document the session and make notes of what worked and what didn’t. This is an exploratory exercise. The camera will help you identify how to improve the outfit, create a better focal point, add jewelry, or an accessory, etc. It’s an activity to strengthen your style skill and rediscover what’s in your closet.

6) If you have a lot of clothes, take your time. Don’t try to rush through your entire closet on a Tuesday night. Tackle one color or palette at a time. This way it’s a manageable project and you can be thorough focusing on one color or palette at a time.

Note: Do not attempt to do a wardrobe edit or audit at the same time.  This will lead to complete confusion, and not be productive. Keep it simple.

 

Color

Color is a key tool in getting the most out of your mix and match strategy.

1) Add a colored garment to your wardrobe. A bottom will give you the biggest bang for your buck. Invest in a skirt of pants in your best color. That’s the color in which you get the most compliments when you wear it. This should allow you to mix this item with anything else in that particular palette.

2) Use the color wheel. Find a color wheel, and take advantage of proven science and color theory to select the best accent colors, and discover new combinations that you would have never put together on your own. Florists, interior decorators and artists use these religiously. Why? Because guessing is hard, time-consuming and expensive. Hit the easy button and learn complementary colors, adjacent colors, etc. This is a skill that will serve you in mastering your wardrobe mix and match strategy. This short video will show you how to use the color wheel for your wardrobe.

3) Dress in tonal colors. This is a very popular trend right now and looks really great in helping to achieve that “effortlessly chic” affect so many women desire. It’s pretty easy to execute this and takes the pressure off on trying to match garments exactly. Megan Markle has been seen several times with this outfit strategy. Think of a rust-colored skirt with an orange blouse or a navy skirt with a turquoise blue sweater. Keep it really simple: blue goes with blues, red with reds/pinks, yellow goes with everything from egg yolk to butter. This should instantly extend your wardrobe. (See examples below). You’re welcomed.

4) If you need help with your colors check out Your Color Style here. (affiliate link) Jen Thoden has a super friendly, easy to use color system that will help you figure out your colors.

Palettes

Use your color palettes as cues to mixing and matching compatible colors, fabrics, silhouettes, themes, and vibes. 

See below how my “Beachy Warm” color palette and how I almost cannot go wrong with mixing pieces in that palette.

As long as the fabrics and colors play nicely together, you’re probably good to go.

Use your basics to support the palette and extend your mixing and matching opportunities!

Mix and match example: khaki palette

Layers

Layers add texture, color, interest, and focal points. It’s the way to get extra mileage with your clothing and create interesting combinations and outfits. Key layering pieces include:

  • Camisoles – ideal for sheer tops
  • Long sleeve shirts
  • Cardigans
  • Vests

Camisoles are a great investment and work under sheer tops, blouses with deep Vs, or when you need a thin layer under a blazer or wrap dress.

Long Sleeve shirts are so versatile and essential to your mix and match strategy. You will love their “layer ability”. Choose pop colors, prints, checks, stripes, solids – as long as they fit into your color palette, they will be key in building a well-assembled outfit. Roll the sleeves, let the tail hang below a cropped sweater or style them with the JCrew half-tuck, they add

Cardigans are not just for grandpas. They add interest, vertical lines, and work back to many garments including jeans, work pants, and even over dresses.

Vests are great for adding layers and creating a new look to many outfits. They can add a pop of color and help keep you warm. Look for vests in knits and wovens. Everyone needs at least one vest.

Inspiration

No need to invent style from the ground up. Every artist needs inspiration. The internet is loaded with great outfits and styling ideas.

How to get inspiration and style ideas:

  • Use Google images to see how people are wearing particular items.
  • Seasonal look books from big retailers like Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdale’s.
  • Influencers for your favorite brands on social media to ideas.
  • Celebrities whose style you admire and take cues from them.
  • Pinterest is a great place to corral the looks and ideas you find on the internet.

Re-imagine

Look for new ways to wear something. Examples could be:

  1. Tucking in a blouse or top that you have traditionally worn out
  2. Cuff the ankles on your jeans
  3. Wearing a shirt belted, with a partial tuck, like the ever-popular JCrew tuck, or tying the front shirt tails at your waist.
  4. Belt a cardigan or blazer
  5. Push the sleeves up on a jacket, or sweater
  6. Roll the sleeves up on a shirt
  7. Wear a scarf as a belt
  8. Wear a cardigan over a dress, belted – a sweater works too
  9. Try different shoes, boots and sandals with dresses and skirts.

Completer pieces

Completer pieces are also known as the “third piece”.  The completer piece plays a big role in creating the mood, vibe and visual presentation you are trying to achieve. Completer pieces make your outfit look finished.  Furthermore completer pieces can often be statement pieces that bring a focal point and excitement to your outfit. Examples include:

  • Blazer
  • Coat
  • Jacket
  • Cardigan
  • Vest
  • Scarf
  • Belt
  • Pendant Necklace
  • Hat
  • Wrap

Wear these completer pieces back to your basics to build outfits.

Accessories

Accessories are the glue that holds your wardrobe together. Elevate your mix and match by using scarves, belts, and hats, etc. to finish your outfits and create focal points. Look for points of commonality between the accessory and the intended outfit. Using a color

Belts will add so much punch and interest to your wardrobe. Wear them over the waistline of a dress to elevate the vibe or attitude you want to convey. Belt a cardigan or blazer to emphasize your waist and always wear a belt if the garment has belt loops. It finishes your outfit and gives you a waistline which will flatter everybody.

Scarves are a magnificent way to mix and match your clothing. They are so much fun to leverage color, flavor, motif, vibe, texture, and excitement to our outfit. It’s a great way to finish your outfit and look chic and put together. Wear a silk scarf around your neck, tucked inside your shirt, in your hair, on your wrist, or your handbag. Get more ideas on how to wear a classic silk or cotton scarf from the gals at Sweet & Spark.

Handbags can pack a big punch with a pop of color, or add another layer of tonal color and texture to your outfit. Since most women carry a handbag for utilitarian purposes,  it’s a fun way for women to express themselves and inject newness into their wardrobe.

 

Leverage accessories for your mix and match strategy. By mixing and matching those you’ll likely get inspired with new combinations and pairing you never would have thought of. That’s called shopping your closet. Winning! Check out his gallery below for some ideas.

Jewelry

Jewelry is one of the most personal statements you can make. Wear fine or costume – doesn’t matter – you can wear jewelry every day, on almost every outfit. It’s one of your best mix and match tools!

Use jewelry to:

  • Express your taste
  • Add texture
  • Create focal points
  • Finish your look

Invest in key pieces that can become your signature and elevate your wardrobe. Necklaces are especially fun to mix and layer. Check out this blog post regarding the essential jewelry pieces every woman needs.

Use statement pieces to create a major focal point. Things like:

  • Cocktail rings
  • Bold earrings
  • Chandelier earrings
  • Statement necklace
  • Layered necklaces to create your own statement
  • Cuffs
  • Bangles

Check out the 8 jewelry combinations I styled below wearing a white peasant blouse and simple black pants

Create outfits on a regular basis

Flex your mix and match muscle by practicing your style skills on a regular basis. You will learn what works, what feels authentic and create go-to outfits and formulas.

Shopping

Consider the mix and match strategy when you are shopping. Think about how you will wear the item. Ask yourself:

  • Does this fit my colors or palette?
  • Can I wear this multiple ways? Meaning for work? Social? Casual or dressy?
  • Do I have the right garments to wear with the item for serval of the scenarios?

You can always buy it and take it home and try it with things in your closet. Set a timer for 30 minutes and see if you can come up with 3 GREAT combinations to wear the item. If it’s struggle and just doesn’t work, return it and wait to find the right thing.

Mix And Match Do’s And Don’ts

Take a photo once you have assembled your outfit. The camera is very telling and will confirm that you look just right or if something is off.

Shiny garments – chose one shiny garment for your outfits. Shiny and shiny gets very busy and overloads the eye. For example if you chose a load, shiny sequin skirt, pair it back to a simple cotton shirt. It will make the shiny skirt be the standout piece and be visually much more attractive.

Juxtaposition dressing – Pairing a couple of garments that seem to be the complete opposite in feel, is a very stylish way to mix and match. Think graphic tees back to dress pants, or a feminine bow tie blouse back to faded, ripped jeans, or a slim business black blazer back to trouser jeans.

Baggy Vs. Fitted – A rule of thumb in pairing clothing together, if your top is big, and flowy, then your bottom should be slim and simple. The reverse is also true. If you wear a full, gathered skirt, go for a slim, fitted top.

What did you learn about mix and match for your wardrobe?

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