Color Formula: Matching Top & Shoes - Part 1: Warm Colors for Summer
Although there are infinite combinations we can use when putting outfits together, I find it helpful to think about some easy combinations categorized as...
(1) Outfit formulas - combinations of pieces/silhouettes - such as Long-sleeved T + Skinny Pants + Long Vest (long over lean), or
(2) Color formulas - combinations of matching or different color pieces - such as Matching Top & Bottom (i.e. inner column of color).
(Of course, there are also color combinations, which might be based on the color wheel - such as Complementary: Orange + Blue - but those do not link up to specific pieces in the outfit. They instead describe the overall color scheme.)
When working with outfit formulas or color formulas, I usually focus on the garments that make up the look rather than the accessories because I am thinking about how the Top + Bottom + Topper pieces in a typical 3-piece outfit are going to relate to each other in silhouette and color. But in summer, even I sometimes forgo the topper layer for a simpler 2-piece outfit. So it can also be interesting to substitute the shoes for the topper piece in generating color formulas, especially since summer is in my experience the time when colorful shoes are most common.
Today I'm going to share one of my very favorite color formulas for summer: Matching Top & Shoes! This can be done in brights, pastels, muted colors, dark neutrals, light neutrals...any color where you have your top and shoes in the same (or similar) color. When your top and shoes match, you have automatically created cohesiveness in the outfit through the color repetition, and you have created a visual loop that brings the eye from the portrait area around your face to the feet and back up to the portrait area (aka top 'n' tail styling). Then it's as easy as picking a coordinating bottom piece (and optionally a topper) to have a complete outfit.
Let's work through some examples from my outfits of the day to see the Matching Top & Shoes color formula in action...starting with the warm colors of the color wheel (Red-Violet through Yellow) plus brown (which I personally categorize as a warm overtone neutral because it seems close to orange).
My red leather flats with the gold buckle by Me Too are year-round shoes but get most of their wear in spring and summer. Here are three examples of the red flats & red top (3/4 or short-sleeved) with a floral skirt and a neutral topper, accent topper, or no topper. A gold pendant with red detail appears in two of these outfits (#1 and #3). In Outfit #3, you can see that I also wore red/gold earrings to create cohesion in the look. Outfit #1 and #2 use road map styling in which the outfit colors are drawn from the print. In Outfit #3, the red accent color doesn't actually appear in the skirt's print, but is in the range of the maroon/burgundy and orange colors (Red is between Red-Violet and Orange on the color wheel) so I thought it worked. (This is a variation of "color that isn't in the print" from Jodie's color recipe.)
My bright pink ballet flats from Payless are in heavy rotation during the summer since I love to wear cheerful vivid colors during this season. In the first two outfits, a short-sleeved peplum top from Lands End completes the pairing. Outfit #1 has a simple but definitely not boring bright pink + black + white color scheme. Outfit #2 draws on road map styling to select black for the cardigan and accessories with the floral print skirt.
The next two outfits top off the bright pink flats with a berry pink 3/4 sleeve T that I like as a stand-alone piece with a skirt. The T is not quite as bright as the shoes, but they still work very well together as a Matching Top & Shoes set. The visual distance between the top and shoes allows us to use colors that aren't a match without throwing off the look as they might if the colors were in close proximity to each other. In both outfits, I have chosen a print mix of floral skirt + striped scarf.
In Outfit #5, a bright pink and white striped top serves as the accompanying piece to the bright pink flats. Although the purest form of this color formula calls for a solid top & solid shoes, I think a print of the solid color with white is a great variation. The white vest repeats the white in the stripes, and I have chosen accessories that continue the bright pink theme. A denim skirt (denim = world's most neutral neutral) is an easy way to finish this colorful look.
I don't have a summer top that matches these soft pink flats from Amazon, but the watermelon pink knit top (Outfit #1) and watermelon pink blouse (Outfit #2) worked well with them. I do note that in both of these cases, the print topper piece has multiple versions of pink in them, creating a context that supports the inclusion of various shades of pink even though the exact top and shoe colors aren't in them. To my eye, this technique results in an outfit that says "This look is about various shades of pink" rather than "Oops, I mis-matched my pinks." However, it's worth experimenting with your not-matched top & shoes to see whether they coordinate well enough to wear with only other solids.
I love these orange ballet flats from Payless and wear them a lot, though usually not in a Matching Top & Shoes outfit because I don't tend to wear orange tops...it's one of my worst colors near my face. But I did try a coral-orange T in Outfit #1 using road map styling to select accent colors from my navy floral skirt. The orange + aqua color scheme isn't precisely complementary on the color wheel, but it brings a similar level of excitement and drama to the look. The sandstone coral striped top in Outfit #2 is the version of orange I wear, and I think it works great with the orange flats. I made the black pants in this outfit look more intentional using my typical tactic: picking a bridge piece (in this case, a scarf) that includes black and the outfit's other colors (orange and light green).
These mustard flats by MIA demonstrate the color that looks absolutely worst when I wear it near my face, but I can get away with it as a shoe color. So of course I don't have a mustard top, but I do have this light yellow tank that makes for a pretty reasonable yellow Matching Top & Shoes set!
Finally, brown may not be a stereotypical summer color, but I do like to wear it, especially in the late summer as we approach the transition to fall. My brown leather flats by Frye are year-round shoes that get a lot of wear in the months of August through November. My brown short-sleeved T is a great match to the brown leather of the shoes, making for a very versatile neutral set. In both of these outfits, I coordinated the brown with a cream topper, which is a favorite way for me to wear it. In Outfit #1, I wore pure green pants as a pop of color against the otherwise neutral outfit. In Outfit #2, I chose a floral skirt with a variety of pink, green, brown, and near-black shades that goes well with so many different colors in my closet as many hues in end up "in the range" of the skirt colors.
On Friday, I will finish up the examples with colors on the cool range of the color wheel (Yellow-Green to Violet) plus black and grey.
Do you have any summery Matching Top & Shoes combinations that would fit into this color formula? Do you have a favorite color from the warm range of the color wheel that you'd like to create a Matching Top & Shoes with?
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