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

This post was inspired by a reader request. 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.

blouse // white skinnies // denim jacket // similar wedge sandals // bag

In this next picture, my shoes are a blush and my bag is off-white. They both have cool undertones.

jacket // tee // jeans // sandals // bag

Here’s another ivory and blush combo.

pink jacket (old) // tee // grey skinnies // sandals // Tory Burch bags in “new ivory”

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

cardigan // sandals // jeans // tee // pendant // sunnies // Tory Burch bags in “new ivory”

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.

tee // shorts // shoes // cognac bags

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.

dress (old) // shoes // KSNY bags in tusk

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.

cardigan // v-neck tee // utility skirt // booties // satchel

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.)

sweater // jeans // booties // bag // earrings

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.

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

top // jacket // jeans // shoes // satchel

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

stripe top // black jeans // shoes // bag

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

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