The Bag Hag Diaries

How to color-coordinate your wardrobe with your bag without overmatching

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THE WHITE of the Emporio Armani top-handle bag and the shoes coordinates the look.

You’ve seen it. Red bag with red shoes. Leopard-print bag with leopard-print shoes. What is the key rule when it comes to matching your outfit, bag and shoes?

Does your bag need to match perfectly with your shoes? Do you need to make sure there is one color element present in the bag or shoes to match the color of your outfit?

One day you’d hear fashion pundits decrying the overmatched look on some celebrity. The next you’d hear them singing praises about it because “the look came together very well” on some model.

LONGCHAMP orchid bag’s brown leather mini flap ties in the look with brown peep-toes.

The key to doing the mix-match look well is to do it with moderation. The bottom line? Your comfort level.

I believe that the head-to-toe one-color look works best with the right cut when it comes to clothes, and with neutral shades. It is more or less widely accepted to wear an all-black ensemble (black dress, black shoes, black bag), but unless you are in mourning, it’s good to put a little color on your face—perhaps some light-pink blush on your cheeks, or if you’re bold enough, bright red lips.

It is also common to see an all-white ensemble (white shirt, white trousers, white loafers and white bag)—I have seen this look on “ladies who lunch,” and they work it quite flawlessly. All white gives off that breezy, laid-back feel, which is also why this look is most at home on the beach.

Over a week or so ago, Jennifer Lopez was seen with her new boyfriend in Miami carrying off a very casual, all-nude (take note, she was not nude) look—from her nude tank top and jeans, to her nude pochette and her nude-toned Valentino studded sandals. It worked.

D&G’S crazy pairing of printed bag with printed platform wedge booties comes on very strong, but works!

When it comes to brights,  the one-color look can be more difficult to pull off. An all-red ensemble may be too harsh, especially when matched with an all-red bag and a pair of all-red shoes—unless you are about to ring in Chinese New Year and want to make sure you get to catch all the luck.

And you might not want to do this all-red look if you’re attending a Chinese banquet—believe me, it would not be good to blend in with the red tablecloth on the banquet table! And it certainly might look strange if you wear an all-green outfit and match it with a same-color, different-shade bag and shoes unless you are willing to be mistaken for an elf or, worse, a leprechaun.

Again, there is no real rule out there against this, as it all boils down to how comfortable you are with what you wear—although I’m sure you wouldn’t want to be the object of ridicule by those who see you.

SERGIO Rossi’s cobalt-blue snakeskin bag complements the printed sandals.

Now, if you are not too sure about your look, it’s time to learn the art of proper bag and shoe matching. When it comes to a solid-colored bright ensemble, a bag and a pair of shoes in either black or nude shade are safest, as those colors work to break down a bright color’s “strength.”

If you are willing to experiment, you don’t even have to match your bag color with your shoe color. Check out the color wheel (you can search for this on the Internet easily) to find complementary shades to the color of your outfit/bag/shoes, and work from there.

If you like to web-crawl, check out style blogs to see how bloggers integrate different colors of bags and shoes with their clothes. And if you feel emboldened after also poring over fashion magazines, try carrying printed bags—and why not, wear printed shoes, too! It may get confusing to color-coordinate or to color-complement/contrast, but never forget to enjoy the process of matchmaking.

VOGUE editor Anna Dello Russo works the matched bag-shoesskirt look.

Ingrid Chua Go is publisher of  www.thebaghagdiaries.com and is on twitter.com/thebaghag.

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