How to Match Your Shoes to Your Outfit and Not Look Like a Grandma

Much has been made of Melania Trump’s robin’s-egg blue Ralph Lauren inauguration outfit—the color, the references to Jackie Kennedy, those long gloves. What really set the outfit apart though, was how matchy-matchy it was. Everything she had on appeared to be the exact same shade.

With less fanfare, the 48-year-old also matched her custom cream inaugural gown to a pair of pointy-toe cream pumps, cementing this as her go-to styling trick.

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.

Simply put, wearing a dress with matching shoes has its perks. First, it elongates the legs, and second, it also gives a sort of unexpected polish to pretty much anything you’re wearing.

On the runway, designers including Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel and the Dolce & Gabbana team 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 girl.

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

  1. Choose shoes that are one shade darker than your outfit.

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.

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

Worried you’ll look too matchy-matchy? Choose a single color as a starting point and choose pieces in colors that are just slightly different from each other when picking out your outfit, shoes, and bag, for a totally modern look like this woman did with the color beige at the Paris couture shows.

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

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 shoes in the same color as what you are wearing, but in a different material, say, velvet or satin, to add texture to your outfit.

  1. Get matchy-matchy with your more casual clothes.

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


  1. Make a big statement, and mix patterns.

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 J.Crew (a label that loves to create matching shoes for its clothes) and mix and match a few other colors and prints in to your outfit, too, if you are ready to try this. Also, be wary of mixing similar prints that are slightly different (say a leopard coat, and shoes in a different leopard print).