How to Pick a Shoe Color Part 5a: Match Your Skirt/Pants (Neutral)
In this warm weather footwear series, I am reviewing our choices when we select a shoe color for our outfits.
Previous posts in the series:
Today we'll address one of the simplest, most classic shoe choices: the matching neutral bottom piece + neutral shoes combination. This combination is very popular, which makes sense because it's just so easy to do and creates a cohesive look.
Reasons to match your shoes to your neutral pants/skirt:
-It's easy to do because neutral pants/skirts are very common, as are neutral shoes, so you won't be shopping for a unicorn; in fact, you probably already own some!
-You don't have to wonder whether the colors go together. If they match, they go.
-It's something of a no-brainer choice for those times you need to put an outfit together quickly and get out the door.
-Especially if you wear neutral bottom pieces frequently, you can spend more on your matching neutral shoes knowing you will wear them often; you can pick shoes with the desired style, quality, durability, longevity, and comfort even if it means a higher price point because frequent wears will lower your cost per wear (which is more important than the price tag!).
-The neutral colors of your bottom half can have a receding effect that reduces focus on that area. This can be particularly helpful for times you want people really focusing on your top half or portrait area.
-When you're wearing a full-length pair of pants (or a skirt/dress + tights), matching the shoe color creates a seamless line and can have a leg-lengthening effect.
-They allow you to create a head-to-toe monochromatic neutral outfit, which can be very chic.
-The combination is classic, minimalist, and often very polished and elegant.
-This is an extremely common approach for men, so pairing neutral pants with neutral shoes can add a masculine/yang component to your outfit, especially if you chose a menswear style of shoe, such as an oxford, with long pants.
-Some situations call for a more conservative appearance, and matching neutral bottoms and shoes an understated and unexceptional default option no one will question.
But wait, you say, I don't want to look too conservative, boring, and generally fuddy-duddy in my shoes! I get it; neither do I. But just because it's an old-school/classic/conservative technique doesn't mean it has to be done in a conservative way nor will it automatically result in conservative outfits.
-There is a large range of shoe styles and pants/skirts/dress styles offered in neutral colors. You can pair up all kinds of different styles in a neutral color for a combination that matches your personal style. As an extreme example, a black tutu + black moto boots follows the technique, but the result is anything but conservative or boring.
-Other elements of visual interest - such as silhouette, texture, pattern, and structural detail - can be more noticeable when done in neutrals rather than accent colors.
-A low-key neutral bottom half can be used to balance a colorful, dramatic, creative, exuberant top half in an outfit.
But wait, you say, isn't matching out of style? Again, I think it's absolutely dependent on how it's done! Matching the color of two items in your outfit does not automatically make the look matchy-matchy; I would guess most successful outfits have some amount of matching in them! Whether an outfit is overly matchy-matchy depends on how all the elements work together in the outfit. And it seems like we are actually in a period where matching is more stylish than in the recent past; matching sets/co-ords are very popular, and celebrities like Kate Middleton regularly lean into matchy-matchy. In any case, the basic design principles of harmony and balance do not go in and out of style!
This all said, I don't do neutral bottom piece + matching neutral shoes as often as many other combinations. But even in my very colorful print-mix-loving style, there is a place for this technique! Let's take a look at how I've worn matching neutral skirts/pants and shoes in some of my warm weather outfits of the day. Some of these outfits you've seen on my blog before; others are new to the blog, and I will say a bit about those.
Both of the black flats I'm featuring have gold metallic details on them, which I love as a way of jazzing up a black pair of shoes. Plain black shoes certainly have their place, but I like the extra shine and interest from the studs and buckles on these.
Both of these navy flats have pointy toes, which is my preference. I know a lot of people find pointy-toed shoes less comfortable, but they fit well and feel great on my feet because I don't need a lot of room side-to-side in the toe area. The top pair are what I consider my more "professional/dressed up" pair (though I don't reserve them for professional outfits), and the bottom pair are the ones I recently mentioned were uncomfortable for a while and then mysteriously became comfortable again. I actually bought the top pair during that Uncomfortable Era as a replacement because navy is such an important core neutral in my wardrobe that it was hard to imagine going without a pair of navy shoes. I bought a somewhat different style (matte rather than shiny; bow rather than plain), which was more due to what was available that I liked than a conscious choice. And I'm glad I did go for something different because now that both pairs are in my rotation, I don't feel like I have duplicate shoes.
This stripe + gingham print mix was one of my red, white, and blue Independence Day outfits from last year...complete with my Uncle Sam owls scarf worn as a headband (it was too warm to wear a scarf around my neck but I still wanted to wear the whimsical owl print). I'm not saying I wouldn't wear a statement shoe with this outfit, but I didn't...there was plenty going on without it!
I absolutely LOVE the combination of the striped top and floral scarf in this outfit (and I just added it to my Pleasing Pairings spreadsheet to remember it for the future). Stripes + florals is a classic print mix for a reason, but not every stripes + florals combination is equally great (I know from personal experience). This one is a standout for me. The dark denim skirt and dark blue flats are simple and don't compete with my print mix for attention.
Both of these pairs have a rounded toe befitting the classic ballet flat, which tends to feel more casual to me than a pointy-toed flats (the black buckle flats above being an exception). The leopard print ones at the bottom are an interesting color...a sort of very muted green-teal with olive in the spots...that I call "olive" for convenience. I bought the very inexpensive plain olive pair at the top as I realized that olive was becoming a core neutral in my wardrobe. This is also a case of intentionally splitting my wears. My leopard print shoes are made from calf hair, which is a bit of a delicate material that can wear off over time so I bought a low cost second pair that I don't feel that I need to "baby" as much as the calf hair ones. I now tend to wear the plain ones when I just want a pair of shoes to low-key finish an outfit and the leopard print ones when I want the shoes to play a more statement role in the look.
This outfit is an example of my blended inner column color formula with an olive tank + aloe vera crops that lets the beautiful floral print shirt-worn-as-jacket stand out. The shoes are basically a continuation of this column. You could argue that this is more of a "matching top & shoes" than a "match your bottom" situation, but I since I freely combine my olive and aloe vera pieces as though they are the same color, it counts in my book.
For the purists, here is a more straightforward example of the olive inner column with olive shoes. I'm wearing the same olive tank, floral shirt, olive ballet flats, and pink/silver necklace as in the previous outfit; I just wore a skirt instead of crops and didn't layer my necklaces in this look. (My earrings and bracelet stack are also different.) This collection of four items worn in different outfits is a good illustration of my ideas around modular dressing. Whether it's a Pleasing Pairing, a beauty bundle/accessory set, or some other grouping of pieces that work well together, this kind of module can be the starting point for quickly creating an outfit. It's less restrictive than generating set outfits you wear repeatedly or creating a cohesive mix-and-match capsule wardrobe (strategies that have their place!) but has more structure than simply creating a brand new outfit completely from scratch.
Brown & Beige
I have shared the brown flats, taupe smoking slippers, and nude studded flats in previous posts in this series because they are shoes that work with my hair color and/or my skin tone. But of course they can also be worn to match my bottom pieces as shown here.
Since buying these brown capri pants in September 2020, I have worn them a lot with my brown flats...like, a LOT lot. As I mentioned in last September's post about wearing autumnally-colored cropped pants for warm fall weather, I like to combine these capri pants and flats with a my brown leather leaf earrings as a module, switching out my top and jewelry/scarf to create different outfits. Here I added a lovely striped linen top and a layered necklace (the butterfly pendant I made using my upcycled DIY paper pendant tutorial and I love it as the "long" necklace worn with shorter ones for a layered look).
Of course the brown flats also work perfectly with these brown straight leg jeans for a nice transition season outfit. I added the brown pieces to pick up the brown in the scarf. This would be another good outfit for late summer/early fall to bring in the autumnal brown color while keeping the top layers light for warm weather.
I couldn't decide what neutral color of rabbit to feature today, so I went with two rabbits in black and warm brown. A pair of shoes, a pair of rabbits...usually we choose our shoes to be the same color and size as each other, but with rabbits, some variety is fun.
As so often happens, I sit down to write about one topic - matching shoes to your pants/skirt - and end up touching on so many of my favorite themes: blending/matching colors, cost per wear, wardrobe tracking, print mixing, how to wear scarves, color formulas, modular dressing with Pleasing Pairings/beauty bundles/modules, capsule wardrobes, seasonal color choices... All my usual themes. Oh, and rabbits of course! Gotta have rabbits!
Do you match your shoes to your pants/skirt/dress? What is your favorite way to do it?
Blogs I link up with are listed here.