How to Pair Shoes and Handbags That Go Together Without Being Matchy-Matchy

This was one of my most popular posts from last summer, so I decided to republish it today. The outfits are all old, and most items are no longer available, so I rounded up some of my favorite shoe and handbag combos at the end of the post.

I admit, it took me some time to get used to wearing neutrals together that don’t exactly match, but after studying how other bloggers and fashion experts pair their bags and shoes, I realized their trick!

It’s actually far more sophisticated to wear neutrals that don’t match exactly, but there is an art to it. It’s all about keeping the neutrals in the same general tone.

Every color has cool tones and warm tones, and the same with neutrals. I rarely pair a warm neutral bag with a cool neutral shoe (i.e. a cognac bag with grey shoes.) But I will pair a taupe bag with grey shoes. Let me know you some examples.

In the picture below, my sandals are a dove grey leather, and my bag is sort of a blush/beige combo. They aren’t the same color, but they share the same pink/grey undertones.

In this next picture, my shoes are a blush and my bag is off-white.

I feel like that ivory bag can go either way. Here’s a time I wore it with cognac sandals.

And here’s another ivory bag with beige shoes.

I wear a lot of cool tones, so most of my neutrals are greys and taupes — or blush, black, white, etc., so they work together well.

Here I did a cognac bag with gold sandals.

Speaking of gold… whether or not it’s important to match your metals is another question I get a lot. I try to match them if they are bossy — meaning, if they stand out or a big part of the design. If it’s just a ring or a snap or a zipper, no, I don’t worry about it. But if the bag has a big gold logo, or silver links in the straps, I will give it consideration. It all depends on what other options I have that work with the outfit.

Sometimes I will change out my jewelry after I’ve picked a bag because that’s easier than finding anther bag that works. But oftentimes, I will choose a bag based on my jewelry and/or the metal in the shoes.

White shoes are another question mark. They really go with any color bag, but I often wear mine with an oyster or another light neutral unless I’m going for a stark contrast.

Below is an example of a combination I did NOT care for. The bag is warm, and the shoes are cool. I knew when I put them together that I wasn’t thrilled with it, but I didn’t have a lot of options with me at the time. The combination is okay, but it’s not my favorite.

I much prefer that bag with these chestnut color booties. See? Warm and warm. They don’t match, but they go. (Thank you, Clinton and Stacy.)

Nude shoes are tough. They’re usually a warmer tone, but not always. I usually carry my cognac bag or a metallic clutch, or I just go with a contrasting color from the outfit.

A black bag with nude shoes works well if you’re wearing black in your outfit.

It’s also perfectly appropriate to match your bag and shoes. I often do that with black.

Here I did that with blush. The two shades of blush don’t have to be a perfect match — here, the bag is leather and the shoes are suede, but they go together well.

It’s also fun to create a striking contrast sometimes, as I did here with red shoes and a black bag.

And the opposite — black shoes and a red bag. Can’t go wrong with black and red!

But when pairing neutrals, just try to stick to the same undertone (cool vs. warm) and you should be good to go!

Here are some neutral pairings I like that are currently in stock.

ONE // bag, shoes

TWO // bag, shoes

THREE // bag, shoes

FOUR // bag, shoes

FIVE // bag, shoes

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