Women's Style

Leveling Up or Down

Happy day, dear reader!

One of the most common questions I get is about whether items “match” or not. “Can I wear this dress with these shoes?” “Does this shirt go with these pants?” There are various aspects to “matching” that have to do with color. (If you want to find out more about color matching, come like and follow my Facebook page and check out my quick video!) Color isn’t the only issue, though… Matching can also be a matter of Levels of Refinement.

Do These Go Together?

In general, you can comfortably combine items from adjoining Levels of Refinement. Level 1’s with Level 2’s. Level 2’s with Level 3’s. Skipping a step results in outfits that lack harmony. That lack of harmony can feel like “clashing” Let’s take a look at what I mean…

Here, we have dresses at all three Levels of Refinement. On the left, a formal gown, Level 1. The middle dress is a Level 2. The dress on the right is a Level 3. In between are accessories from Level 1, and the right combines Levels 2 & 3. Each set of accessories contains sandals, a clutch, and dangly earrings. The Level 1 accessories can be worn with the Level 1 gown, and can dress up the Level 2 dress. Those same accessories worn with the Level 3 Dress, don’t work as well. Mixing 1’s and 3’s (or even 4’s) and  is most commonly done by those with a Rebellious or Creative personality type. If that’s your thing, own it and mix away! Just know that if you are participating in a social occasion, it’s appropriate to follow the norms as to not distract from the affair. For example, wearing your skull painted Doc Martens with your bridesmaid’s dress will distract from the happy couple, and is not cool. You would think some things didn’t need to be said…

A Closer Look

Below, I sandwiched the Level 1 accessories between our dresses. Grab yourself something to block the other pictures out and look first at just the Level 1 dress and the accessories next to it. They look harmonious because they are all from the same Refinement Level. Now cover up the dresses on the ends. See how the Level 1 accessories still work with the Level 2 dress. They elevate it and make the dress look more “dressy.” This dress could go happily from the office to a wedding, just by changing up the accessories! Now cover the Level 1 and 2 dresses. You can see how the Level 1 accessories are not in harmony with the Level 3 dress. The dress is darling, but it still looks like a maxi-dress that someone tried to dress up with satin and sparkle, not like a dress appropriate for an evening soiree!

Now let’s play with that second set of more relaxed accessories!

Again, grab your screen block (Probably your hand if you are on your phone!). We will start on the right this time. The Level 3 maxi-dress looks great with the chain earrings, leather clutch, and espadrille sandals. The chains make the earrings more casual, as does the natural color of the clutch, and the rope sole on the sandal. There’s a casual harmony. Cover the maxi-dress and the evening gown, and just look at the Level 2 dress with the same accessories. These bring the Level 2 dress down a notch. You could imagine this woman in this dress slipping off her office pumps and pearls, popping on the sandals and earrings, and meeting friends for a relaxed dinner at a bistro. Finally cover all but the accessories and the Level 1 evening gown. The earrings might work with the gown, depending on the occasion and personality of the wearer, but the clutch and sandals are out of tune with the elegant lines and structure of the gown.

You could even take the maxi-dress on the right down another level by pairing it with flat thong sandals, a straw or canvas tote, and some rope bracelets, and beaded or shell earrings, for a very casual beachy look.

So, how about you? Do you prefer to stay within a Level of Refinement? Do you find that limiting, or comforting? Or are you a Rebel or Creative who likes to mix and match Refinement Levels at will? Has that ever left you feeling under or over dressed? Let’s start a conversation in the comments below! I love to hear about your experiences… Style is all about where theory meets the real world!

Stylishly yours,

And many thanks to Catherine at Not Dressed as Lamb for the Link-Up!

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