A dear friend once asked me, “Have you ever written a post about how to figure out what shirt goes with what skirt?”
“No,” I replied. “Would you find that useful?”
“Yes,” she said. And here we are.
If anyone would know about pairing tops and skirts, it ought to be me since that combination makes up a solid 75% of my wardrobe. As always, fashion has no hard and fast rules, if you like how it looks keep on keepin’ on, but these are the three things I consider when I’m putting together an outfit.
As with any outfit, you gotta consider your colors! I believe it was the venerable Clinton Kelly who said that your clothes don’t have to match, they have to go. When I was little, my mom used to have me perfectly matched from my barettes to my socks. Some people push back against that “matchy matchy” style now, but it still has a warm place in my heart! That said, you don’t want (and probably can’t afford!) to be perfectly matched at all times. Neutrals go with anything, so if you’re nervous you can get started brightly colored/patterned top paired with a black or grey skirt, or vice versa.
Ready to take it to the next level? It’s time to go back to art class…that’s right, the handy-dandy color wheel!
Pretty! There are lots of places that will cover color theory in GREAT depth, but we’re just here for the clothes, right? Basically what you want to keep in mind are tones, complementary colors, and analagous colors. Tone-on-tone has been trendy lately and is something I enjoy a lot myself – that’s done by wearing multiple tones/variations of the same color. Complementary colors are across the wheel from each other (like yellow and purple or blue and orange), and they’re always a good idea to pair! Analagous colors are the ones next to each other on the wheel. So green + yellow and green + blue = pretty great. Green + orange = ehhhh. Now, you can definitely rock a look that breaks basic color theory rules and look rad as hell, but if you’re just getting started, those are good guidelines to stick to. Don’t let a patterned piece intimidate you – just pick one of the colors in the pattern to pair with it!
2. Silhouette & Proportion
Basically, you don’t want the shape of your top to compete with or disrupt the shape of your bottom (heh heh bottom)…it should all flow nicely together. You usually will want to pair a skirt with a wider sweep with a more fitted top (a blousey one can mimic the sweep of the skirt too closely and look awkward), while slim fitting skirts can work with both fitted tops as well as ones with more volume. Consider your proportions when making an outfit, but don’t forget you can “cheat” those proportions with accessories! I would usually tuck a longer blouse into the waistband of my skirt, since I’m going for that curvy, poofy pinup silhouette and want to accentuate my waist. But I can also leave the blouse on the outside and use a belt to define my waist instead, giving it a different look.
3. Type of Attire
Casual, Business Casual, Business Professional, Business Formal, Cocktail, Black Tie, White Tie..who even knows what we’re supposed to wear anymore? Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be that complicated. You’ll want to use the same basic ideas of color theory that we discussed above when looking at the different levels of attire – choose two pieces that are either at the same level, pretty close, or total opposites. A nice skirt definitely pairs well with a nice (or pretty nice) blouse, but it could also pair with a casual t-shirt if you want to get a little funky. Wearing pieces that aren’t on the same level of “formality” but aren’t different enough to be deliberately mismatched (another example: converse & prom dresses) can look haphazard.
I hope these tips gave you a little more confidence in making an outfit! At a certain point, it’s all just trial and error – don’t be afraid to put different combinations on and try them out. Sometimes you just don’t know if something is going to work or not until it’s on.
If you have any other questions about mixing and matching and creating outfits from skirts and tops, let me know below!