117. Matching (AKA Not Looking Tacky)

9 Jan

matchy-matchyPicture this: I’m about to walk out the door wearing turquoise mary janes, denim capris, white cotton blouse topped with turquoise and light purple striped sweater and turquoise-accented eyeglasses. I’m carrying a glittery turquoise handbag featuring purple flowers. Oh, and a purple water bottle.

Before I leave, I turn to Geoff and say, “I’m worried that I don’t quite match enough…” This renders him temporarily speechless till I add, “I’m kidding!”

Yes, I can go a little overboard with the matching (full disclosure: I was also wearing lavender eye shadow with glittery turquoise eyeliner), but I’m Southern and it’s just part of my DNA.

Don't be like this, y'all...

Don’t be like this, y’all…

For as far back as I can remember, I’ve had a deep and abiding fear of looking tacky. Occasionally, I’ll challenge myself by pairing a paisley shirt with an argyle sweater, but it makes my pulse race. And that’s with coordinating colors like burgundy and brown. Were I to wear the clashing patterns in, say, green and orange, I would most likely faint in the manner of a tent revival attendee.

As y’all might imagine, folks in Seattle don’t put a whole lot of effort into matching. It is, after all, the city that brought you grunge. Seattleites match neither the elements of an outfit with each other nor the entire ensemble to the occasion. Some don’t even bother to dress for the weather more than 1/2 way. How else do you explain all the guys running around wearing shorts and Birkenstocks with parkas or the girls sporting tank tops and miniskirts with Ugg boots?

lunch bagEarly this year, I went out on a limb and bought an insulated lunch bag that not only doesn’t match my water bottle, but also doesn’t match 9/10ths of the clothes I own. I think it’s adorable, but have never once carried it to my onsite gig without feeling uncomfortable, if not vaguely nauseated. (Pardon me while I go off topic, but I wanted to mention that these bags are great at keeping hot things hot, but it turns out you need some sort of cold pack to keep cold things cold. Besides which, there was never any room for it in the office refrigerator. Not my most practical purchase, but certainly not my least. That honor may go to the Cutest Shoes Ever, which featured ankle straps and 4” stiletto heels. My mom always called such footwear “sitting shoes.”)

Speaking of my mom, I should say that my propensity for matching comes from her side of the family. Which y’all would know if you’ve ever had the opportunity to see my dad sporting his patchwork Christmas Pants (though he occasionally breaks them out as early as Thanksgiving). The patches feature every conceivable design all stitched up together in no discernible pattern in the manner of a calico cat. Except that the patches are made of wool, corduroy and such, not fur. To be fair, I’ll note that all the patches feature coordinating shades of brown, which is more than I can say for the madras patchwork sport coat that Land’s End originally sold for $250 but has now marked down to $159.99.

My sister with Mom at her 50th anniversary dinner.         Not pictured: Matching nail polish.

My sister with Mom at her 50th anniversary dinner. Not pictured: Matching nail polish.

Anyhoo, my mom was a world-championship matcher. She even won a ribbon once at the state fair. Ok, I just made that up, but were prizes awarded in such categories, she would’ve easily outmatched any so-called competition. I’m not saying that some of her outfits weren’t questionable, but even so, they always matched.

Do you like to get all matchy-matchy? What’s your favorite outfit?

Photo credits: “Matchy Matchy” illustration by Natalie Dee, all other photos from Holloway family archives.

20 Responses to “117. Matching (AKA Not Looking Tacky)”

  1. DessertForTwo January 9, 2013 at 9:53 am #

    You’re so right, Kim! (I find myself saying this all the time after I read your posts)

    I am overly obsessed with matching, although I didn’t realize it til I left the South. I’m constantly thinking about the colors of my kitchen, living room, etc. I can’t buy a purse or a pair of shoes without mentally checking it ‘matches enough stuff I already own.’

    You should write a book, girl! 🙂

    • Kim Holloway January 11, 2013 at 5:16 pm #

      Thanks, Christina! I, too, do the “enough stuff” test when shopping. There will be a book one day. Not soon, but one day… (Although now that I’ve made the declaration, perhaps it will “manifest.” That’s “The Secret,” right?)

  2. Hippie Cahier January 9, 2013 at 10:31 am #

    This is yet another reason my wardrobe trends toward black. Almost anything goes with black.

    Those insulated bags just appeared in my supermarket last week and I love the patterns, but after thinking it over for far too long for a northerner, I decided that it was impractical to buy one because none of the patterns would blend with all my outfits, now that I have been coaxed into the world of colorful outfits.

    If fainting in the manner of a tent revival attendee doesn’t already have a post of its own, it deserves one.

    • Kim Holloway January 11, 2013 at 5:23 pm #

      Ok, if *I* can throw caution to the wind and get one, surely you can. 🙂 “Be impractical” is one of my mottos. Ok, I just made that up, but I’m officially adopting it. When I expand “fainting…” into a post, I’ll dedicate it to you!

  3. Karen Anderson January 9, 2013 at 10:45 am #

    I noticed in the picture that your sister was wearing black. Had no idea this was ever allowed in the South! This post brings back memories of the 1960s in Virginia when I wore color-coordinated John Meyer of Norwich wool cardigans and skirts…and I think there were coordinated paisley blouses, as well. http://pinterest.com/elisemey/john-meyer-of-norwich-archive/

    • Kim Holloway January 11, 2013 at 5:32 pm #

      Hey Karen,
      I spent most of my angry teenage years in black. Even dyed my hair black and wore the palest of foundation. I may have been Mississippi’s first goth (although this was back before folks knew what to call the look).

      Thanks for introducing me to John Meyer of Norwich! We had what may have been a knockoff version of the long wool plaid skirts in the 80’s. My mom taught me to be bugged when patterns don’t line up correctly at the seams…

      • Karen Anderson January 15, 2013 at 11:25 am #

        My mother sewed (she studied with a French tailor who made clothing for the diplomats’ wives and senators’ wives in D.C.) and she was always making me tailored outfits that were “better than” the ones that the other kids wore. Of course, all the other kids noticed was that they didn’t have the designer label. I was thrill when, in 1971, our school decided girls could wear pants to school. I put on jeans and tie-dyed t-shirts and that was the end of the tailored and color-coordinated outfits.

        • Kim Holloway February 8, 2013 at 12:27 pm #

          That reminds me of Eddie Murphy’s bit about the mama making burgers “better than McDonalds.” Bet your mom was horrified by the tie-dye and jeans. But that’s what kids are born to do: make horrifying fashion choices…

    • elise February 12, 2013 at 7:07 pm #

      Thanks for mentioning my Pinterest Board! Would you be willing to write your memories of your outfits for a book i am writing? Thanks! Elise Meyer


  4. vintageyall January 9, 2013 at 10:59 am #

    My favourite matchy was in the 80s! Then you had flats in every shade of the rainbow to match every dress or outfit. I recall having the cutest green legging and top out fit that kind of looked like a onesy! I wore a wide red belt, red shoes, red earrings and red lipstick and polish with it. The outfit itself was a weird Limited Express shade of olive green. Some how it worked and I would get stopped all the time and asked where I got the outfit. It was the matchy accessories that made it fabulous.

    I’m not too matchy now that Iive in Canada….country of grunge also. BUt I had my day and appreciate the fact that no one should go out looking tacky.

    • Kim Holloway January 11, 2013 at 5:34 pm #

      Oh, yes, the 80s were great for matching. So many bright colors to coordinate! I may have had banana combs in every color!

  5. Hope January 9, 2013 at 11:32 am #

    Oh, yes! I love having shoes dyed to match just regular old Sunday dresses, but haven’t done it in a few years. I don’t ever go out of the house in all black before 6pm (7 EST) unless it’s for a funeral.

    At this very moment, jeans (staying home day), white Brooks Bros. shirt with Green BB vest, green earrings, green ring – And pearls. Wish I had a green lunch box too.

    Love your post – as always.

    • Kim Holloway January 11, 2013 at 5:41 pm #

      LOL! I, too, try to match at home (most of the time), but I definitely distinguish between “loungewear” (sweats) and “seeing other people” clothes. After 10 years in Seattle, my standards have fallen, but I only leave the house in sweats when I’m going someplace for the purpose of working up one.

  6. Anonymous January 9, 2013 at 1:55 pm #

    Something I still ask myself every time I buy something new…..do I have anything that matches?

    • Kim Holloway January 11, 2013 at 5:41 pm #

      Me too!

  7. Tori Nelson January 9, 2013 at 3:44 pm #

    I am not matchy-matchy but I suspect I would be if I was able. Somehow lime green moccasins make sense with a purple polka dotted sweater?

    • Kim Holloway January 11, 2013 at 5:44 pm #

      Indeed they do, if the polka dots are lime green, too! Which reminds me, I had a lime green pair of Hush Puppies (the shoes, not the food) with a matching lime green suede purse back in the 90’s. I suspect some Goodwill shopper is rocking them now.

  8. carolinabelle January 10, 2013 at 1:59 am #

    Love this post…somehow , I thought that the whole matchy thing was more sorority girl. .I would love to know if you get a lot of ‘looks’ or comments from people in the Pacific N.W.! We ‘re living in China now, and it is not unusual to see some similar matchy looks around the university campus where we work!

    • Kim Holloway January 11, 2013 at 5:56 pm #

      I myself was never a sorority girl (“not that there’s anything wrong with that”) so I think matching is more of a Southern girl thing. (Although maybe it’s a universal girl thing!) Not to brag, but since you asked I get a lot of compliments on my clothes, accessories, shoes, etc. here. Probably, folks are surprised when they encounter a fabric other than fleece or flannel in wintertime.

  9. Anonymous February 15, 2013 at 10:43 pm #

    Once I was shopping with a professional shopper and she looked at an outfit I was trying on and said …”Matchy-Matchy, tacky-tacky.” Well, how confusing, we are supposed to match, but it can’t look too contrived. Goodness!

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