15 In Getting Dressed

Getting Dressed: Pair It and Wear It

Pairing silk with clunky

Pairing tips


What’s on the fashion blog menu today? Great pairings!

I started thinking about some of the formulas I have for putting outfits together … you know, the shortcuts of getting dressed. It’s not every day that I want to create a whole new masterpiece or have the time to fiddle around with a delicious wearable art project. Often the clock is ticking and I need to be heading out the door to work with my clients. That’s when I lean on tried-and true-formulas for things that naturally pair well together. I’m going to share a few of those pairings with you today. If you’re not doing this instinctively, you’ll want to think about how you can create these shortcuts for yourself.

Pairing bright colors

Pairing purple and orange in an outfit

Pairing brights is just right


The other day I wanted to wear this bright purple-blue jacket by Jil Sander. I mean I don’t even know how to describe this color! The jacket had been in my mending pile so I hadn’t had a chance to wear it since buying it at SAX consignment store in San Anselmo where my daughter’s gave me a pretty good deal on it. It has large pockets on the side that droop and hang open right around my hips and I didn’t think that drooping was necessary. I stitched the pockets shut and liked it much better. Next step: figuring out what to pair it with!

This is such an amazing color and I decided to pair another amazing color with it: a bright, saturated orange sweater that sometimes looks red. Va-va-voom! These two colors together are like two little kids in a playground discovering that they vibrate on the same wavelength. They are instant besties!


Pairing simple brights together

Bright solid colors love being paired


One other reason this pairing works so well together is that both pieces of clothing are simple. The two pieces have no frills, ruffles, appliqués, or inlays. They are both clean, simple, and straightforward designs. They need each other and not much else. I know how little kids are though so I gave them a bangle to play with; one that has beetles all around it. The blues in the bugs relate to this vibrant, otherworldly blue-colored jacket.

Pairing two shades of the same color


Shades of the same color add texture

Pairing two shades of gray together


Here’s another pairing trick: Wear two things together that are shades of the same color. This was an outfit I wore during the Sonoma International Film Festival in April. The T-shirt is ruched and in a steel gray color. The leather jacket is a lighter shade of gray.


Shades of one color add dimension to an outfit

Two shades of gray are better than one


Another reason I like these two pieces together is they both have a drape to them. The ruched T-shirt has graceful gathers in it and the leather jacket is unstructured and finds its own natural form when it’s on the body. I LOVE these two pieces together!

Pairing stripes with stripes, Mother-Daughter style

When Erin showed up for work last week wearing these two stripes together I couldn’t stop complimenting her. What’s interesting to me with these double stripes is that they are pretty much the same stripe; there’s no variation in scale. The T-shirt is a black and white stripe and the scarf is a dark navy and white stripe. Her scarf is so fluffy and lightweight. It’s like a frothy foam on a Havana cappuccino from Peet’s Coffee. (Don’t get started on these; you won’t be able to stop.)


Stripes paired with stripes are dynamic

Erin pairs two striped items


I paired stripes together and had the same thing going in that my T-shirt is a black and white stripe and my Chico’s jacket is a navy and white stripe. In my case, the stripes are different widths; one is thinner than the other. I thought for sure that was the best way to pair stripes, being sure they weren’t the same width, but upon seeing Erin’s pairing, I think they’re both great!

Stripes love stripes! What can I say?


Two stripes together make magic

Pairing my striped jacket with my striped T-shirt


Pairing denim with denim

Next up: double denim. Whenever I wear two pieces of denim together, I call it a Canadian tuxedo. Have you heard of that term? But my Canadian friend, Sue Jacobs, says, “That’s not what we call it here in Canada. We call it it Texas tuxedo.” And then I saw an Instagram post from my friend Suzanne Dekyvere who’s in Australia and she was calling it double denim.


Double the denim

Double denim, Texas tuxedo or Canadian tuxedo


Whatever you call it, it’s a great pairing, especially right now. There is such a ’70s flashback going on in fashion right now and the more denim the better. So why not double denim?

Erin’s really getting the gold star in this outfit because not only is she pairing denim in her ’70s vibe outfit but she’s wearing those paired stripes as well.


Double stripes and double denim is double the fun

Double the fun: double denim and double stripes


Pairing feminine with masculine

The day I put this outfit together I knew I wanted to swing and sway through the shopping trip with my client, feeling the pleats of this silk leopard print skirt kissing my knees. I LOVE that feeling! But at the same time I felt like being all girly, I wanted to add some toughness to my outfit and I did that with my masculine, sturdy laceup Rosa Mosa shoes. I felt grounded and sure of myself all day wearing these shoes with my silk skirt. I never tire of mixing feminine and masculine elements together.


Pairing feminine and masculine elements

Feminine loves masculine


So, to review, here are the pairings we talked about today: double denim, stripes with stripes, bold colors together, neutral colors together, and masculine elements with feminine elements. This could be easy, right?

So tell me, do you pair things on a regular basis? Does it make getting dressed easier for you when you do? I want to hear all the details!

You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    Ann G
    May 16, 2017 at 5:37 am

    Put the pairings on hold for a minute – Brenda has legs! I wasn’t sure they existed! LOVE that leopard print skirt and it looks wonderful on you. It’s such a versatile piece.
    Thanks again for the many pairing ideas.

  • Reply
    jodie filogomo
    May 16, 2017 at 6:05 am

    Sometimes I think we are so on the same page Brenda!! First of all, the 3 of us paired sneakers with skirts at the end of April too!! So, of course, I love the last look!
    And then I’m working on a blog series about outfit recipes!! Basically what you talked about here!!!
    Love it!

    • Reply
      May 16, 2017 at 12:57 pm

      Great minds think alike, Jodie! Fun!

  • Reply
    May 16, 2017 at 6:53 am

    Not a fan of double denim at all; even when they are very different, I would never wear them together, but that’s what makes for diversity, right?

    I l love and covet the gray outfit. Gray is one of my favorites!

    Thank you for taking time to give all these valuable tips.

    • Reply
      May 16, 2017 at 12:56 pm

      You are so so welcome, Cara! Yes, double denim isn’t for every one but I’m glad you found something you like in pairs! Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    May 16, 2017 at 7:04 am

    I love all of these. That Jil Sander jacket is positively luminous. I’ve been avoiding double denim for a while, it doesn’t have a good reputation in the UK, but Erin looks so great that I’ve put a denim jacket on my list.
    When I can’t work out what to wear, I fall back on a V necked tunic from Gudrun Sjoden which is mostly black but with flowers in tomato red, a mid blue and a taupe shade (I know, it sounds hideous). I have tops to go under it in the same red and blue, and it goes over black and taupe leggings or trousers. I’ve had it for about 10 years and still wear it at least once a month because it goes with so many things.

    • Reply
      May 16, 2017 at 1:02 pm

      How wonderful to have such a tried and true piece to work with!!!

  • Reply
    May 16, 2017 at 7:47 pm

    Love mixing black and white with red as an accent color in my shoes/bags or jewelry. I have been mixing graphic tee shirts with fitted blazers and skinny jeans (heels of course) for a weekend date night. Thanks for all the suggestions. I may try the tone on tone approach and use a few items just sitting there patiently in my closet!

    • Reply
      May 17, 2017 at 8:43 pm

      And I appreciate your pairing of fitted blazers with graphic T-shirts. I have always LOVED that look and love it on everyone I see it on. I have to find those groovy T-shirts, though. Any great resources to share?

  • Reply
    May 16, 2017 at 9:33 pm

    Great post! I love the way the two brights bounce off one another but I adore those loafers!

    The stripes with stripes is one that never comes easily to my mind, but looks great.

    And, yes, as a fellow Canadian (American Perm Res) we *do* call it a Texas Tux, even knowing the story behind how it came to be 🙂 I’m going with double denim because I’d never wear a tuxedo because it’s too matchy for me. My double denim has to be several shades removed.

    Feminine paired with masculine comes naturally to me – always has.

    • Reply
      May 17, 2017 at 8:42 pm

      Double denim, twice removed. That’s a great formula right there! And I hadn’t thought about the word tuxedo like you just pointed out. It makes double denim even more understandable. Thanks!

  • Reply
    La semaine d'une gourmette
    May 17, 2017 at 2:52 am

    Hey, I’m wearing double denim AND stripes today, do I get a cookie ? LOL
    Your pairing ideas are great. I also love pairing black and bold luminous colors, but it’s definitely not a novel idea.

    • Reply
      May 17, 2017 at 8:41 pm

      You get two cookies and a glass of milk! What are the chances? I love your idea of pairing black with bold colors. It’s an idea I should try!

  • Reply
    Barbara Kraus
    May 23, 2017 at 9:28 am

    Thanks to you, or to Erin, from when you posted her photo, earlier 🙂 , I wore a striped navy and gray top with a striped black and gray scarf. I definitely wouldn’t have before. And I loved it. Thanks!

    • Reply
      May 24, 2017 at 8:44 pm

      You are so welcome! I’m happy to spread good ideas.

    Leave a Reply