How to Match Your Shoes to Your Outfit and Not Look Old-Fashioned

Much has been made of Melania Trump’s First Lady fashion, from her robin’s-egg blue Ralph Lauren inauguration outfit (the color, the references to Jackie Kennedy, those long gloves) to her recent U.K. state visit outfits (which drew comparisons to the royals). A common thread has been the matchy-matchiness of the styling: Often her shoes will match the colors of her dress or suit. It’s the kind of outfit choice that, in recent years, has come to be seen as old-fashioned. Also, it should be said, who can afford to buy shoes to match everything in their closet?

Still, the look, which was popularized in the 1960s by the debutante set (Jackie Kennedy included), seems to be having a moment in fashion, even among women who definitely don’t want to take style cues from their grandmothers.

The royals seem to be a fan. Kate Middleton has been employing this styling trick for years.

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Ever since becoming a duchess herself, Meghan Markle has adopted it too.

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Even Princess Diana did it.

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Simply put, wearing a dress with matching shoes has its benefits. First, it makes picking out an outfit a lot easier, and second, it gives an unexpected polish to pretty much anything you’re wearing.

On the runway, designers including Chanel, Balenciaga, and Valentino have been showing clothes with matching shoes in everything from herringbone to intricate beaded patterns, while coordinating heels and gowns has become a bona fide red-carpet trend among celebrities lately. Street style, though, is really where to look for inspiration on how to pull this off like a true fashion person.

Here, a few tips and tricks for matching your shoes to your outfit while still looking very, very modern.

Choose shoes that are one shade darker than your outfit.

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To avoid the cringe factor that often comes from mixing two similar but slightly different colors, opt for a pair of shoes a hair darker than your outfit—a fire-engine red dress with pair of cherry-red heels, for example. The difference in color will be barely noticeable to most but will prevent your reds from clashing.

Try styling an outfit with slight variations on a single color.

Kate Middleton wearing a longsleeved collared polka dot dress

Worried you’ll look too matchy-matchy? Choose a single color as a starting point. Then find pieces in shades that are just slightly different from each other for a totally modern look—as Middleton did with heels in a blue lighter than that of her polka-dot dress.

Make sure your shoes aren’t both the same color and material as your outfit.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle holding hands

To avoid that “I cut up my drapes to make a dress and shoes” look, be careful to not also match the material of your outfit to your shoes. Instead choose footwear in the same color as what you’re wearing but in a different material—say, velvet or metallic, to add texture to your outfit. Markle knows.

Don’t be afraid to match patterns.

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Not everyone has a patterned dress and a pair of shoes in the exact same pattern sitting in their closet, but occasionally you want to make a big statement, and there is no better way to do it than by pairing accessories and an outfit in the same pattern. Steal a styling trick from Tess Holliday, and mix and match prints. Use it as a way to get more wear out of all the animal prints you’ve stockpiled over the past few seasons.

Apply this styling trick to more casual outfits.

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Throw out the rule that you should match your shoes to your outfit only for more formal occasions. There is something so fresh about doing this with a more casual outfit, like a cream jumpsuit and chunky cream boots, as this woman did at Seoul Fashion Week.