Dear Abby and Elle: I have several patterned skirts that I’d love to wear, but I can’t seem to find tops to match. Meanwhile, I’m trapped in black slacks while my lovely skirts are collecting dust. Help! — Unmatched
Dear Unmatched: We can offer a few general pointers. When matching anything, keep in mind this fashion trifecta: color, style and fabric. Let’s take them one at a time.
Color If your skirt has multiple colors, choose a top that matches the predominant color for a sleek look, or choose a top in one of the highlight colors for a more dramatic look. If your skirt is black and white, stand out in the crowd with a bright red or orange top!
Style For best results, keep a consistent style between your skirt and top. For example, pencil and A-line skirts go well with a tucked-in top, such as a button-down blouse or shell, or an untucked button-down blouse and belt. A breezy skirt, such as the one pictured below, works well with soft, airy tops — particularly ones with details (ruffles, ribbons and gathers) that mimic the flow of the skirt. If your skirt is super-girly, you can choose to temper the style with a basic shell or play it up with a top that’s busting with ruffles, lace or puffed peasant sleeves.
Fabric Generally speaking, match “like with like,” especially if you’re not a risk taker. For example, sweater skirts naturally go well with knit tops and heavier cotton tops such as turtlenecks, which you can tuck in or out, and belt or not. Silk skirts pair best with silk, light cotton, satin or soft bamboo tops.
Finally, don’t hesitate to bring your skirt shopping with you. We do it all the time. And don’t hesitate to ask a clerk for help — especially if you like the way she (or he) is dressed!