Building complements: How to do it?

A couple of comments on my post about building summer complements from footwear seemed worthy of follow up and exploration: 

Jessikims said: I’m curious about other people’s complement collections. How many should a person have? You have silver cognac, one bright color, one white, it sounds like. I have blush, white/black patterned, rose gold.... but I certainly don’t have every color in the rainbow (or even in my palette). I guess they just evolve naturally... you find a new olive belt and you remember your olive sneakers and you think “complement!”

And SarahDB noted that she is not a bag person and does not wear belts so the elements of her complements might differ. 

I don't think there is any "should" about it -- have as many complements as you like or can afford! And base them on bags, scarves, footwear -- whatever you like!

I do think they sometimes evolve naturally -- and sometimes on purpose. My silver one has grown quite naturally with the switch to silver hair (since silver and grey bookend well) although it started even before that with a pair of pewter sandals and a silvery belt, back when I was still blonde. I loved the pewter sandals so much I started looking at pewter and silver footwear more regularly.

 The cognac complement also  evolved naturally in the first place (I had the vintage belt already and then picked up sandals on sale on a whim.) Meanwhile, I'm trying to create a red one on purpose because I adore red footwear and think a bright adds zip to a summer closet composed almost entirely of blue and white. ;) 

In terms of my thought process, metallic and white are both reliable neutrals for me in summer, easily worked into both casual and dressier outfits. Silver gives a bit of "dressiness" to casual looks. Cognac is also a neutral; it's a bit more unexpected for my closet since I wear almost exclusively cool colours, but it's "grounding" as others have said, and adds warmth to blue, white, grey, and black. Red is a bright well represented in my closet already and I love it, so it's a natural to build on. I'm actually starting that complement with clothing items vs. footwear or bag. 

If I could, I'd have other summer complements also -- maybe fuchsia, or mustard, or blush, or lilac or purple -- something unexpected. Accessories are so much more important in high summer when we don't have the luxury of layering toppers! Footwear can make or break an outfit. But I have 3 to 4 months of summer weather where I live and can only justify so many sandals. ;)  So I'm trying to contain myself for now. Next year in my more temperate climate I may add some complements based on dressier closed footwear. 

My winter complements are sadly lacking and that is an area I intend to build on this coming fall/ winter. I have some scarf/ clothing item complements and that is truly about it! Partly this is due to the constant need for snow worthy boots in my winter climate and their sober colours. I'm starting to plan ahead for building in new colours next year. 

How about you? How have you built complements? Have they evolved or have to set about it purposively? Do you think there's an ideal number? Should they be neutrals, or colours? 

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.

59 Comments

  • Elizabeth P replied 2 months ago

    I'm curious about something... I'm surprised you refer to red as a compliment.  IMHO, red is not a compliment for you, it's a firm part of your colour palette. 

    I think of a compliment is a way to introduce colours into your wardrobe in small batches, maybe to incorporate a colour that you don't want next to your face, or that is new to you and you want to make sure you can wear it and look intentional.  3-5 items maybe.  It could stay at this small amount, or be a stepping stone to becoming part of your "bigger picture".

    Thoughts?  Semantics?

  • jussie replied 2 months ago

    Hmm well I mostly like to use scarves and shoes in my complements. This is handy for me as I’m not much of a bag or belt person. I also like to have earrings and necklaces in colours to match my shoes and scarves. I have the following complements:
    Orange
    Lime green
    Cobalt
    Black
    Dark brown
    Duck egg
    Crimson
    The ones I currently use most are black and cobalt. Last autumn I wore the orange a lot.
    I build the compliments deliberately.

  • texstyle replied 2 months ago

    Mine seem to be mostly just two items at a time - either belt and shoes or shoes and handbag or shoes and jewelry (rose gold necklace with gold-blush shoes). But sometimes it works out to all three or even four - shoes, handbag and belt (esp. my tan complement) and then maybe even a necklace. But at that point I"m pretty "gold" all over so maybe that's my neutral :-}. My tan handbag also works like a complement with the blush shoes and a pewter belt that leans somewhere between gold and silver on me.

    I have a cognac bag, belt and some shoes - no summer version of this however (and I would like to add some cognac sandals for this reason).

  • JAileen replied 2 months ago

    I have grey, blue, navy and silver complements that developed naturally. Recently I have been “developing” two new complements - pink and now mustard. This is a great year for pink. When I look for sandals in pink on any site, there are hundreds. When I look for mustard, there might be a couple dozen yellow sandals, but only one is mustard. I have had a mustard Coach bag that I bought at Goodwill for 5-10 years but haven’t used it much. Why? Because it was the only mustard thing I had. This recent discussion of complements made me realize that if I wanted to use it, I needed another mustard item to make it look purposeful.

    The sandals in 2 are a very good match to the bag. However the sole and buckle are bright white. They are comfy and look good on my feet. The mules in 3 were very faded looking and also didn’t fit. I returned them. The sandals in 4 have been ordered but not delivered. I think the general vibe of these will be good, hopefully the color and fit are good. I’ve been looking at scarves. As I said, this year is good for pink. Anyway, I found this scarf in 5 on Etsy.

    I envision this for summer, with grey or navy, which I have in spades. I think these things would work with a dress or a top and pants outfit.

    I might have ordered another scarf on Etsy..

  • Suz replied 2 months ago

    Elizabeth P, you're right -- red's a colour that's firmly in my wardrobe. I guess I was thinking of it more in terms of building a complement with accessories. And I'm doing that consciously. But maybe Angie can enlighten us on the terminology?! 

    Jussie, you have a LOT of different complements! Wow! Amazing and it must be fun! It sounds as if we are similar in mostly starting with shoes and in often using scarves (at least in cooler temps) to complement. 

    Texstyle, your complements are beautiful and beautifully organic with your personal colouring and your natural environment and your clothing choices. Lovely! 

    JAilleen, you are right -- this is a BIG year for pink and blush. It's everywhere!!! But mustard is much harder to find. I really love the scarf you've discovered -- it will work with both! So what made you consider mustard? 

  • Sterling replied 2 months ago

    Mine are organically constructed ... based on appropriateness and need. 

    I have pieces that work so beautifully with other items in my wardrobe, I pulled them together, termed them a "complement," and proceeded to wear them as a single wardrobe unit.  The wardrobe units or "complements" add so much and take so little effort that I am going to be more intentional about building these going forward. 

  • Christina F. replied 2 months ago

    This concept is a little beyond me, to be honest. I think it's because I have never bought my accessories with any kind of deliberate thought, especially my bags. I now have a huge collection that I don't want to cut down too much, but at the same time, I can't add items due to space. They are all random colors. Since a bag would absolutely be part of a complement for me, I'm a little stuck.

    I have a lot of metallic shoes, and I'm getting better at trying to match the metals I'm using. So that's something...

  • Sara L. replied 2 months ago

    Mine tend to happen organically.  I buy a new pair of shoes that goes with a scarf I already own.  Or I get stuck on a color (blush right now) and just naturally gravitate to that color when shopping.  I rarely change my handbag so mine are usually shoes, scarves and jewelry.  I'm currently on the look out for a red bracelet to go with some red sandals I already own.  

  • lisa p replied 2 months ago

    I've been doing this - organically/subconsciously - for years. The minute I start focusing on it or trying too hard, I buy pieces that aren't terrific just because I think I need to fill this hole in the package.  It happened when I decided a couple of fall seasons ago that I wanted a cognac grouping . I ended up with boots and a bag that I don't love and never wore.  

    The complements I do have and keep "topped up" are:

    olive
    pale blue
    black - obviously 
    grey - in need of new footwear in both seasons now, which indicates that a reassessment of how important this is moving forward 
    white - need new summer footwear here but not a huge priority right now 
    navy -which I wear more in winter than in summer; have both a winter and a summer grouping
    interested in :  gold, silver, rose gold (not sure about this one though) and blush as I have shoes in all colours, but no metallic or blush bag.  I'm not actively seeking one though - if the perfect one presents itself and if budget allows - I'll buy it/them.  When I was actively looking, nothing was popping up so it's gone to the back burner now .  Glad I didn't just buy something to make up the complement.

  • Janet replied 2 months ago

    I'm with Lisa in this -- it's something I've been doing kind of by instinct for years, and sometimes I'm better off not overthinking it. But it's good to have a name for it. ;-) Now I realize why I have been craving a rose gold bag -- because I have a couple of pairs of summer shoes with rose gold, and it would be nice to tie an outfit together with a bit more rose gold in the top half of my outfit, sometimes more visibly than simply with a rose gold piece of jewelry. 

    My complements tend to be quite seasonal. I have complements in:

    black (obviously, my biggest one!) - year round
    navy (fall/winter) - not a very complete one at first glance, I could use a navy bag, but my heavy reliance on blue denim really make this more complete than it might seem. 
    cognac (year round) - again, kind of a weak one -- I have a cognac bag and cowboy boots that go, but they haven't been worn much in the last couple of years, but they're classic so I keep them for when my mood to use them returns.
    grey/gunmetal (fall/winter)
    turquoise (year round)
    cobalt blue (year round)
    burgundy (fall/winter)
    teal/forest green (fall/winter)
    silver/pewter (year round)
    rose gold (spring/summer)
    white (spring/summer)
    fuchsia (a very new one, formed by the Free People flats and the Ted Baker patterned bag) - spring/early summer/early fall

  • bonnie replied 2 months ago

    Most of my shoes and bags are black, so I make sure my necklaces and scarves have at least some black if they are not completely black. I've added some examples but I don't have many Finds for accessories. I'd like to add another complement but haven't decided whether I want to start with white, red, blue, or cognac. If I look for items in these colors which include black, then I can wear them with black or the matching color shoe. 

  • Suz replied 2 months ago

    Bonnie, that's really smart. Especially with light hair if you are wearing dark footwear, I find it's important to include some dark up top as well for cohesion. I love the idea of two-tone footwear, too -- it allows for a range of complementary items just in itself. 

    Janet, you are Jussie are the Complement Queens so far! Wow! I like how you approach it -- following your intuitive cravings as you plan outfits. 

    Lisa, I totally agree. I bought my cognac bag on purpose and it's not great. It was cheap, it was trendy (um...last year), and it is leather, but it's not a great shape for me for general usefulness, the leather is hard, and I only wear it to make my complement! I'll be looking for a better cognac bag soon (but whoops, that defeats the purpose!) Well, looking for an upgrade. The stress is lower and PPP takes hold then. 

    Sara, your blush complement is a fun wild card considering all your jewel brights. 

    Christina, do you have a refined colour palette for your clothing? It sounds as if building complements around a few of your very favourite bags might be a way to begin? 

    Sterling, let me guess. Do you have a fuchsia complement? :) 

  • Vix replied 2 months ago

    Hi Suz --

    I can see how this would work; however, I'm more the "look at current closet to see what color might be nice to add in what way with already-owned stuff (bottoms? tops? shoes? accessories?) then keep an eye out" type.

    Over time I certainly end up with a fair amount of a certain color, but it may be absent in various categories.

    Does that make sense? It's a variation but an important distinction to me since I think the other way would lead to overbuying.

    Because in theory I might think, "ok, I have a lot of X color but I need to fill it out with shoes, bags, print scarf, necklace" but in reality it's figuring out (for example) WHAT shoe color + type(s) I want with WHAT outfits.

    More concrete example: for the last few summers I've been looking for a blush purse to use as a neutral, go-with-most-summer-clothes bag. Nothing was quite right. This spring, lots more options arrived...yea, right?

    Except I used a chunk of my budget to buy blush *clothing* since my shades were finally around. I realized adding a blush purse would be too matchy-matchy even for me. Result: lighter grey bag. 

    I'm not immune to impulse buys that I then try to work in, but if I'm being systematic re shopping it works better for me to chunk things into "more of a need given current closet, possibly a need, would be nice but not really needed." 

  • Christina F. replied 2 months ago

    Suz, yes, my palette is as follows:

    Neutrals: Navy, Black, Metallics,  olive/sage, white (summer), grey (winter)

    Non-neutrals: Other blues/greens (ink, teal), bright colors in the red and pink/purple families, occasional burgundy and blush.

    Most of my bags fit these parameters, as do my shoes, but the two groups don't relate to each other much. I'll think about it and report back.

  • Cardiff girl replied 2 months ago

    I m always in awe of the thought that a lot of people put into their wardrobe planning.l was going to say I build complements randomly but someone had said that they develop complements organically which is a much better way of putting it.Last year I decided I needed a summer scarf and one that went with everything.Not a big ask then!So I ended up with a white scarf ,then later in the season I bought some white plimsolls in a sale ,then this year I decided I needed a light coloured summer bag and have been gravitating towards white so what I m actually doing is building a white complement but I didn’t set out to do that ,it s just evolved and that is how most of my complements do.

  • SarahD8 replied 2 months ago

    Thanks so much for starting this thread, Suz! It's so interesting to see the various approaches that people have. Great food for thought.

    As I mentioned in the other thread I've been thinking about complements again because my spring wardrobe made me realize that just thinking about color palettes for seasonal capsules isn't sufficient. That is, I can define a seasonal color palette and then throw all the items I own that fit within that palette on the bed, and have quite a large collection of clothes but still have trouble making outfits from them. That's because I don't have the right *distribution* of colors. So, the hope is that thinking at a more granular scale about complements might help.

    I guess that means I'm using "complement" in a pretty expansive sense Elizabeth P -- any grouping of clothing of a particular color.

    I'm thinking about seasonal color palettes as being composed of neutrals, major colors, and minor colors.
    Minor colors would have a small complement: cardigan, scarf and/or jewelry, possibly shoes
    Major colors would get a larger complement: cardigan, 2 tops (mix of knit + woven or print + solid), 2 scarves, jewelry, possibly shoes, possibly 1 bottom 
    Neutrals would also have a large complement, but distributed differently: 1 or 2 cardigans, 2+ tops, 2+ bottoms, 2 shoes

    That's VERY rough, in the sense that I'm still tweaking/defining this, and in the sense that I don't anticipate filling in these blanks exactly the same for every color (for example, white/cream is an important neutral, but I really only wear it on top; I wear a lot of navy and denim blue but prefer to pair it with contrasting footwear, so no need for multiple pairs of navy shoes). I definitely take lisa p's point that if you get too focused on filling in the blanks it leads to subpar purchases. For me it is more a tool of analysis -- if something isn't working, maybe it might help me understand why.

  • Suz replied 2 months ago

    Vix, that sounds like the intuitive approach to complement building. I don't think looking at what's in the current closet is incompatible with consciously trying to build, though. I certainly base my purchasing/ updating on what's in the current closet. But then my colour palette has not changed much over the last few years, if at all. Blue blue blue blue blue, with some white, grey, and red thrown in. Anyway, I agree that sometimes the HEWI becomes unnecessary after all. We figure out another way to create the complement without the item we believed was so necessary. I don't have a strict idea that I must have bag plus scarf plus shoes, for example. I think two items can be enough but adding a few others (or clothing items that include the tone in their pattern) can add to cohesion and versatility. 

    Christina, it might be fun to pair reds/ pink purples with sage/ olive accessories or vice versa! 

  • Angie replied 2 months ago

    Great thread, Suz. My complements are created similarly to yours. As deliberate as they are organic.

    The colours are “my colours” usually - or I try a new-to-me colour (like burgundy). That’s the organic part. Then I more often than not match the items of the complement very deliberately - the shoes to the bag to the scarf to the top to the jacket etc. You get the idea. And I’m very particular about it.

    I have many complements in the same colour. Like three pairs of blush shoes, 3 blush bags and two blush scarves. Same goes for white, citron, tomato red and gold.

  • Sterling replied 2 months ago

    I do, Suz, I do!!!!!!  Fuchsia makes me really, really happy.  It is interesting because I am finding fewer true fuchsia garments in the stores right now, but I am finding lots of complement items.  So I constructed a deliberate complement and it makes me happy.  

  • Christina F. replied 2 months ago

    So in discussing complements, we talk a lot about matching bags to shoes. What about to outerwear? That's the thing that is most likely to make me use one bag for another, after weather and what I need to carry, maybe because I have a healthy selection of outerwear that's not in a neutral. How do you ladies approach this? (I feel like I'm graduating from Wardrobe 101 to 201 now that I'm thinking about this stuff.)

  • Suz replied 2 months ago

    Sterling, I knew it! :) I haven't got a fuchsia complement but I would like to build one.

    Christina, I think complements of bags and shoes tend to be more important in climates/ times of year when outerwear or layers are not needed. In seasons where you can layer and hat or scarf or jacket might do the job. Angie has talked about building complements from "her" colours and this makes sense, because when you also have quite a few clothing items in those tones it is much easier to create integrated outfits with only one accessory in that colour. Especially if the colour is a bright. But if Angie adds a "new for her" colour like burgundy or olive, she will work consciously to create a complement because otherwise -- whether it's an accessory or an article of clothing -- it would risk becoming a closet orphan. 

    For the last few seasons I have tended to use a purply-burgundy bag with my grey coats, my navy coats, my lilac coat. And black trenches in warmer temps. But since that's really my only beloved winter bag, I rarely wear my (equally beloved) red wool coat! I need to remedy that with a navy or pewter bag, I think. Or even cognac. :) Warm on warm for a change. 

  • Suz replied 2 months ago

    Also...none of my complements involve "new to me" colours -- at least so far. Cognac comes the closest since it is a colour I won't wear in clothing except if it is part of a pattern of predominantly cooler colours, or maybe if it is a bottom of some kind (pants or skirt). 

    So maybe this answers Elizabeth's question -- red is an accessory complement but also one of "my" typical clothing colours.  

    Ditto silver. 

    Ditto white. 

    Cognac is nothing but accessories and a few patterns if I can find them. :) 

    If I were to add emerald or sage green, teal, or purply plum or lilac or blush, I could conceivably wear these as clothing colours OR simply as accessory complements. But if I added any of these, I'd have to be deliberate about building complements because so far they are barely represented in my closet. 

    It sounds like my colour palette is more limited than some peoples.' In fact, my "colours" are almost all (or even, arguably, ALL) neutrals!! Denim, ink, navy blue (and most other blues), white, grey/ silver, red and berry tones. 

  • Liesbeth replied 2 months ago

    Suz, my colors are pretty close to yours. Lots of neutrals, lots of blue, and a preference for a warm or bright complement (tan or chocolate brown or silver) reserved for accessories. In the past I never intentionally built complements apart from buying matching shoes and bags (in neutrals). Even though I’m currently re-evaluating my purchases in the light of this complement concept, I still think it’s not absolutely necessary to add more than one item of the same accent color. I think a ‘pop’ of color in the shape of a statement handbag OR shoes OR jewelry can still work, if the color pairing with the rest of the outfit is good and looks intentional. So i wouldn’t rule out dipping my toe into, say, emerald, with one accessory or clothing item.

  • rachylou replied 2 months ago

    The thing about wardrobe colour complements, for me, is that I don’t do a lot of accessories. I really have to think of it more as tonal or matchy matchy dressing. Like a jacket and sweater.

    As for choosing a colour... I seem to get colour crushes. One year was mint. Another blush. Red to go with black and white is a perennial.

  • Runcarla replied 2 months ago

    My compliments (accessories ?) develop like a spider diagram. I have something and then acquire accessories that co-ordinate with the first piece, and then acquire additional pieces. The compliments may work with each other - but may not - and might send me off in a tangent. It is kind of organic (or seat-of-the pants).

    I once bought a piece of costume jewellery, a 'statement necklace' just because it was beautiful, and it inspired the colour scheme of a whole wardrobe capsule - though I never wore the necklace!

  • SarahD8 replied 2 months ago

    Oh, I like your mention of a spider diagram, Runcarla! I was pondering Bonnie's mention of how she looks for prints that include a little black, and thinking that in my wardrobe prints probably do a lot of work in tying things together. 

    For example, I have very little red in my wardrobe -- a pair of peep-toe clogs, a cardigan in a tomato-ish shade, and a paisley dress that is predominantly red. But I have a number of items -- a short-sleeve tee, several scarves -- that include a small amount of red, and those help tie the shoes and cardi especially into an outfit.

    Yet considering anything with a bit of red in the print part of my red complement would get chaotic fast. Maybe it's like a spiderweb, with the print items at the center (because they likely relate to multiple complements).

  • smittie replied 2 months ago

    I was deliberate with pink and bought a pink scarf, sweater, shoes, bag and belt all at once.

    I usually think of complements as having a leather element.

  • The Cat replied 2 months ago

    My complements have evolved naturally. Some are neutrals, others are colours.

    Unlike many others, I don't feel that I need a bag or belt to match my shoes.

    On the other hand, when wearing a non-neutral on the lower half of my body (i.e. shoes, pants, skirts, belt or bag), I feel most harmonious when that colour is repeated on the upper part of my body (i.e. top, topper, scarf or necklace).

    I have quite a collection of scarves, shawls, reading glasses, necklaces and earrings in various colours that I know suit me. So when I buy a new pair of shoes or a bag or a skirt I love, I'll most probably already have one or more accessories in that colour.

    Apart from a few pieces of jewellery, all my accessories/complements are in the same cool colours as my clothing colours. This makes it easy to mix and match. I feel I have lots of possibilities, and I like to wear "new" combinations daily.

  • Sal replied 2 months ago

    I have not really thought about this - I probably take a similar approach to The Cat when choosing an outfit - balance with top and bottom halves.

    I think it can work really successfully to build a complement but it can lead to a little more shopping than I can afford!!

    However I added a fun blush beanie and I would like to add something else to match - I wear this casually - it might be shoes or gloves.

  • Jenni NZ replied 2 months ago

    I don't think in complements at all. I'm with Rachy and think in matchy-matchy terms. Because:
    1. I wear one bag almost every day, this one since October 2016. It is tan, but it only complements one pair of tan boots and one pair of tan/navy/gold loafers. I rarely change it out for one of my other 3 bags or myriad clutches. It's much more important that it "goes" with almost all outfits.
    2. I don't wear belts.
    3. I don't wear scarves.
    So, I try to match earrings and shoes most days, and usually to some colour in the outfit. So when dressing, the first choice is the top half most days. Then what bottoms will go with that, most commonly black or grey but could be navy, olive or white. All pants are plain. Most skirts however, although seldom worn, are patterned, so in that case I choose the skirt first and then a plain top.
    Now I have the bottoms and the top. Next is shoes. There is a colour and style for almost every print top available! Then finally earrings. I have even more of them! Girls go wild!
    2 pics below, one a matchy-matchy outfit and one where shoes match one colour in the print and pants match the other.

  • lisa p replied 2 months ago

    I read Christina's question a little differently.  I have quite a few non-neutral winter outerwear pieces, and do use complements to accessorize them.  My citron wool coat gets a scarf and bag that tie the coat together with the boots ; my pale pink coats have a few groupings I like to wear with them; my plaid coats have yet another .  Coats are a perfect backdrop for a group of complementary accessories. I've also created groupings from new-to-me colours: my pale blue complement evolved that way.  I didn't  have any clothes in pale blue, but once I got my hands on a pale blue leather bag, the floodgates were open to add in sandals, scarves, jewellery, etc etc.  It encouraged me to try a few pieces of clothing in pale blue too ....

  • smittie replied 2 months ago

    Yah, for winter you need a really good outerwear/boot/bag trifecta.

    I bought a juniper green puffer last year and black boots/bag works with it, but chocolate would be better.

  • Suz replied 2 months ago

    Lisa P, yes, that sounds smart! I like the way you built your pale blue capsule. And my goal is to do what you have done with coats. I just haven't been able to yet. It's a work in progress. 

    Jenni, I think matching shoes to patterns is my common go-to also! I also use earrings. 

  • Brooklyn replied 2 months ago

    I tend to do this in an opportunistic way. If a colour I like is trending at retail, I stock up while I can. This year I am stocking up on forest green,  teal and plum because there is quite a lot of it here. So I have accidentally built up a complement of these items. But I would like to pursue doing this is a more deliberate way with light neutrals, because I really need more of them in my wardrobe. 

  • shevia replied 2 months ago

    Threads like these make me want a do a complete overhaul - my first reaction was I am the least methodical shopper and dresser around. But then I thought more - I try not to mix medals, which means that over the years I have kept an eye out for different hardware/color combinations in bags and shoes. I like to coordinate my bag/shoes/earrings, all of which I wear every day. During our long hot summers my outfits are one or two pieces so that is my focus.

  • efbgen replied 2 months ago

    Thanks for a great post and such fun reading.
    I think I am more deliberate than organic.
    Spring, fall and winter are easier because I use scarves, vests, bags and footwear and find it easier to mix them up.
    Summer is tougher because I use very few scarves and my jewelry is limited by choice. Footwear is also limited by choice.
    I can tell you I had a “ happy” situation in that a few years ago I needed to dye a sandal to match a pewter( more silver) dress. The shoes matched perfectly but over time the dye took on a lavender hue. By golly- if it not perfect with 6 of my summer dresses. People always comment- pure dumb luck- it certainly wouldn’t happen if I had tried to get that color- lol. I bought a bag second hand that was a close match but it did nothing for me. Now I combine the lavender sandal with a pale mint bag and it is a fun combo.

  • Joy replied 2 months ago

    I have not read all the replies yet, but I deliberately try to form compliments to feel more pulled together. My most used are silver, gold and tomato red. I am working on turquoise and would like to add yellow and cognac. I have blush, black, black and white, pale grey, and a toffee tan. Some of these I don't feel are as complete as I'd like.

  • Christina F. replied 2 months ago

    Thanks Suz, Lisa, and everyone. I have some ideas for summer now. I mostly have to play around with what I have, but I’m okay with things that go together rather than being exact matches.

  • Roxanna replied 2 months ago

    Suz - you are killing me. Your last post *forced* me to buy that J crew stepped cowl neck, and now these cognac sandals are calling my name... Did you get them in Canada?

    I don't usually build complements, but your post had given me a lot to think about to understand why I don't and if I should start...

  • Suz replied 2 months ago

    Roxanna, that's hilarious! The sandals came from HeelBoy https://heelboy.com. They don't seem to have them online but there is a Toronto store. You can also order from Vionic. https://vionicshoes.ca

    I'll be back tomorrow to comment individually -- I must try to sleep before an early morning dental appointment! :)

  • tulle replied 2 months ago

    An interesting topic, and not one I tend to spend much time thinking about before purchasing.  Usually a color will seem suddenly arresting, and an item (usually a handbag) will give me that where-have-you-been-all-my-life feeling, and I'll succumb.  It's only afterward that I realize what nice things it can do for the rest of my wardrobe. This Spring, for example, I was looking for a green bag (inspired by one of Angie's posts) and fell hard instead for a small crossbody hobo bag in a deep rich mustard yellow leather.  This is a color I've avoided all my life; it makes me look sick. But when the bag arrived and I saw how wonderfully it interacted with all the indigo shades in my wardrobe, from pale washed denim to dark navy linen, I knew I'd found something special. I even experimented with an inexpensive cotton tee in the same yellow under a deep indigo jacket, and liked it (for Summer only). Similar experiences with a coral red bag (bought a coral & cream striped tee, and a dark blue silk floral scarf with coral roses to work with that one), a turquoise blue bag (added cashmere gloves in the same shade), and many others have convinced me that a complement is right when I find myself wanting other pieces in the same color!

  • Jessikams replied 2 months ago

    I love hearing everyone’s thoughts. Thx for creating this thread!

  • Style Fan replied 2 months ago

    The term complements was a new one for me.  After the post about complements, I wondered if I even had any.  I don't think about matching bags, shoes and belts.  My wardrobe evolves organically but I do stick to a certain colour palette.
    After some thought, I decided I do have some complements of sorts.  I will start with my summer footwear.  My footwear is very limited because of my feet.

    1/  Copper - Copper Birks, Belt with Copper Buckle, a few scarves with Copper in design, Amber jewellery
    2/  Bronze - Bronze Birks, Bronze and Brown animal print clutch, Bronze/Old Gold jewellery, a few scarves with Bronze in design
    3/  Mustard Yellow - Mustard Yellow Finn Comfort Sandals, Mustard Yellow and Brown Reiker Wedge Sandals, Multicoloured including Mustard Yellow Straw Clutch, Mustard Yellow Leather Clutch, Amber Yellow Bracelet

  • La Pedestrienne replied 2 months ago

    I think I did this unconsciously for many years, and have only started doing it consciously in the past year or so. Four or five years ago, I bought a pair of little dark yellow flats that were a perfect match for a yellow floral scarf I had at the time. Then I added a mustard-and-turquoise striped top, and loved being able to mix-and-match those three pieces. They played nicely with both navy and olive, two of my dominant neutrals.

    Right now I have two colours that I think of in terms of complements: blush and sage. Again, they both work well with navy and olive, and also with black and white, so they're easy to integrate. I guess I don't really think of my neutrals in terms of complement-building, because I always plenty of them available! One nice thing about blush is that I can consider my rose-quartz jewelry as part of that complement, which expands my options. Now I'm looking to add some green gemstones in shades that would work with sage green (think aventurine, malachite, jade).

    I also like these colours because blush paired with burgundy creates a tonal look, as does sage paired with olive. In fact, I tend to just roll my red and burgundy items in with the blush items and think of them as my "red stuff" and all of my olive clothes, in my mind, are in the same compartment as the sage, filed under "green stuff" -- I work in broad strokes! :D

    Recently, I've been thinking about building a little cognac capsule (probably just a bag and boots for now) to add a warm accent to my cold-weather outfits which are very heavy on black, navy, and charcoal. I'm very picky about cognac shades though -- a lot of them skew too bright for me. I like a soft, dusty, vintage-looking colour that's darker than tan, but not as deep as chestnut. Hard to find! My complements tend to grow slowly because I'm very picky about finding the right shade. 

  • texstyle replied 2 months ago

    I think summer dressing is equally important for complements (well, to me at least) because you are wearing very few items and want to have as much impact as you can with those few items. So for me, simple shorts and a tee really needs the supporting complements of some combo of bag, shoes, belt or jewelry (sometimes all of these!)

    I have a burgundy complement for summer (instead of cognac I guess) that is just a simple handbag and sandal but I like to use it to "colorize" an otherwise neutral backdrop. My lipcolor echoes these colors so it harmonized well with little else - but rose gold may be the jewelry I choose to further emphasize the red tones.

  • Christina F. replied 2 months ago

    Okay, I have an ice blue purse, which I'm carrying today but have not tried to complement at all. Sometimes the purse I have handy is the one I'm carrying, as long as it doesn't totally clash.

    That said, I can consider this complement for it in the future. I am not including jewelry, as most of mine isn't uploaded (plenty of it is silver and/or blue). I also have more scarves than are uploaded. I don't wear my printed scarves so much in the summer, since I wear so much print in my outfits, but I'd like to change that a bit over time.

    ETA: That said, I have a cobalt tote, and the complement would be almost the same (minus the pink scarf and blue sneakers, maybe.)

  • Aida replied 2 months ago

    What a fascinating post to read through! Love that we all have different approaches to this ^^ I have definitely been doing less thinking and more feeling with wardrobe rebuilding. Having high affinity for all kinds of mixes probably helps there. And I'm with the camp that doesn't wear a lot in terms of accessories which makes compliments a little less useful for me.

    My approach is super boring but it's what works best for me and has come about organically as I've narrowed down what exactly I enjoy wearing: I really only like to wear a handful of neutrals+variants for shoes (blush/tan/cognac, gold/rose gold, cream/white, gray/taupe, charcoal/black/navy, occasional olive). I don't wear belts all that often any more but they follow shoes in terms of colors. For jewelry I mainly wear earrings in plain metals (gold, rose gold, occasional silver) but I do have a handful of chunky crystal studs in key wardrobe shades. Bags are mixed -- I like to have options to compliment the shoe compliment (hah~) but I also enjoy wearing colorful/printed bags which I generally do NOT for shoes. Same with coats, love colorful coats!

    Beyond that, I treat any other accessory less as compliment and more a
    key element of the outfit i.e. necklaces and scarves are generally NOT
    thought of as part of a compliment. Will have to think on this one a bit, I think I go compliment-ish sometimes and very not compliment-ish others.

    I tend to mix-and-match across all of my "compliments" and don't necessarily favor matching. But it does still help to think of them in compliments, because that list of shoe neutrals are the kinds of accents I like to add so it's nice to have options across different items (especially if I opt not to go matching).

    Fun to think about! I'm not really sure that I have before, at least not in the more overview-compliment aspect.

    (Suz you definitely need a fuchsia winter compliment!)

  • Staysfit replied 2 months ago

    I think my complements start randomly and without any forethought. I just like a particular item or color, or possibly a pattern, and soon I have two items of that sort, and then I have three, which is the start of a collection. I’m not sure if four and more makes it a complement, or maybe by three but somehow it happens! :-) Single, pair, collection, complement, and sometimes I reach the state of overgrowth! Depending on the color overload, my closet could look like a giant raspberry jello mold, a field of dandelions or a Mediterranean Sea.

    My number one inspiration for complements has been my glasses frames. I had red glasses in my senior year of high school and all through college. I am convinced that they served as the stimulus for my first complement. I had no idea what I was building except perhaps a wardrobe that would make me look like one of the Hare Krishna Cult members on our campus. I loved my unusual red glasses, and soon I had a matching red wool pea coat! Next came a red scarf, red gloves and a red wallet which I still use. I found some red sandals for summer and boots and a long red puffer coat for winter. Finally, I chose red dresses for special events, and red cardigans, red rugby stripe shirts were stolen from my boyfriends collection, and I managed to get some red ruby stud earrings. It’s funny how I still have so many of these pieces, but not the glasses that sparked the original inspiration.

    My current complements, mostly started from glasses are red/raspberry and I have a fuschia complement. Turquoise/light teal and pale blue. I also have a pale lemon yellow/citron complement which is old, from before I started posting on YLF, but I have been adding to it again recently. There are others, but isn’t that enough! Thanks Suz!

  • Suz replied 2 months ago

    Wow, I have enjoyed reading your replies and imagining your closets so much! Thank you for these terrific stories. 

    Staysfit, I love that you still have some of the items from your original red complement! And strawberry or watermelon red still looks amazing on you. I think using specs frames as the starting point is a brilliant idea. I laughed at the image of a jello mold! 

    Aida, thanks for enabling my fuchsia addiction! I haven't done enough with that lately. I got onto this idea of complements because Angie raised it this year on the blog as a way to add a new colour successfully to the wardrobe. She did this with olive and burgundy. And then blush, which was mainly (but not completely) accessories in her closet. 

    Christina, that looks like a perfect summery complement to me! For sure! So pretty, too. I like the bag. 

    Texstyle, I love the idea of rose gold with burgundy. That would be gorgeous with your colouring. 

    LaPed, that is a very interesting idea-- to make a tonal pairing with accessories vs. a contrast or "pop" of colour! I really like this way of looking at it. I'm going to need to think on it some more because I might like to try it. I agree that a cognac capsule would be good in winter with all the grey and navy you and I tend to wear. I've been thinking along the same lines. I don't have boots or a bag in that colour but I think I might like to try it since I do enjoy my summer cognac items. 

    Style Fan, you and I both stick to a fairly limited palette. I wonder if that makes it less likely we would be deliberate about this? Because everything tends to "go" with everything else already? Yet this year I found myself inspired by Angie's complements, and also, I suppose, I had to replace so much footwear it was more natural for me to think that way. 

    Thanks, Jessikams! Glad you raised the question!

    Tulle, I know just what you mean about mustard. I had a mustard bag early in my time at YLF and I adored how it worked with blues and it was such a treat to be able to have something in that colour! Hmmm. Maybe it's time to build a new mustard capsule. :) 

    Joy, I always get a lot of pleasure from your outfit posts in part because I can tell you have thought in terms of complements! Your eclectic closet is filled to the brim with interesting possible pairings. 

    efbgen, that is so interesting! Lavender and mint is a lovely combination! Has it made you more interested in wearing lavender in general? 

    Shevia, your "thrown together" elegance works like a charm. You are forming complements unconsciously. 

    Brooklyn, plum sounds perfect for your closet! I'd be opportunistic about that, too, because it doesn't come round every season. Strike while you can. I do think light neutrals can prove really useful, too. 

    Smittie, you're not the only one hoping that chocolate makes a return soon! 

  • Alexandra Nicole replied 2 months ago

    I am a neutral wearer...lots of black, white, and shades of beige. I introduce statements in my accessories such as an eye catching collar necklace, or an oversized gold cuff. I also love to pop an outfit with a fur clutch or faux alligator bag/shoe combo. My compliments are not with color but with textures and bulky jewelry. I think this is a great way for a woman who loves neutrals or black to turn her look into a head turning affair!

  • CocoLion replied 2 months ago

    My complements start either deliberately (lilac, purples, burgundys, khaki green) or randomly.  My random complement is in tan or soul sucking beige.  Not an inspiring color.  But the Acne booties that came in this color inspired me so I purchased bags and tops and scarves that would complement the Acnes.

    I have black complements (who doesn't), a tiny ignored cobalt complement, a discarded white complement (shoes gone, belt and tops still existing), and an underdeveloped cognac complement (need the right footwear).

    Shoes almost always get the process going, the bag comes second.

    Right now I'm working on a yellow complement, nothing has been purchased so far.

  • Bijou replied 2 months ago

    I am quite deliberate when adding a new colour into my wardrobe and commit to it - by adding it in with a support act.

    I love variety, so my initial foray into a new colour will be via a print which will have the new colour in it, but also work with my existing wardrobe. I then assess how I feel about the new colour and if I want to build on it.

    I approach compliments with an analytical approach that is based on feeling. Analysis and feeling, deliberate and organic.

    PS: Cocolion: your beiges do not look soul sucking to me and you have a beautiful collection of complimentary accessories!

    What a fun thread!

  • 3style replied 2 months ago

    Tangential question mainly for Christina F, but anyone else is welcome to chime in.

    I just recently bought the Birkenstock Mayari in silver and am loving it. I’m so glad that Birkenstock now has a narrower width option and the softer synthetic straps. I’m wondering if you like the Gizeh style the same, more or less than the Mayari. Also am wondering if you are finding the Onyx color useful. I struggle a bit with black casual sandals seeming heavy on my low volume feet. I’d usually pick a second metallic for the Gizeh, (available directly from Birkenstock) like bronze or copper. Getting another silver pair in the Gizeh seems like not enough of a different look. I did get the metallic Bella Vita in a rose gold as well as a pair of sandals that are more like peep-toe flats from Gentle Souls in pewter, so I’m trying to figure out if I’m all set in metallic or shoes. Should I get a black pair, or step totally out of my comfort zone and get a white pair. Advice anyone?

  • Suz replied 2 months ago

    3style, you might want to start a separate thread with this question because since this thread is now older people might not come back to it. And we have many Birkenstock wearers on the forum who'd probably add to the conversation. 

    By the way, I loved seeing everyone's complements. Bijou, it sounds as if you adopt Angie's method for adding olive and burgundy. And CocoLion, I loved your examples -- gorgeous colours (and neutrals) to add. 

  • 3style replied 2 months ago

    Suz, I’ve been wondering when it is better to add to a thread versus starting a new one. I’m thinking to do a review of the vests that I decided to keep and wasn’t sure if proper netiquette for YLF was to start fresh or add on.

  • Suz replied 2 months ago

    3style, you can feel free to start new threads whenever your heart desires. Sometimes we refer back to the original thread that got the conversation started and sometimes we don't. Either way, it's all good. If you give the thread a good subject heading that lets people know what it's about, those who feel they might have something to contribute will jump in readily. We are a friendly bunch here. 

  • 3style replied 2 months ago

    Suz, the other (private alumni group) forum I usually post has the procedure that when you piggyback off of a thread, you put the new name and then you put square brackets in which you then insert the old thread name or even all of the several past thread names. Thread naming gets really complicated, but very precise.

  • Elly replied 2 months ago

    See, maybe I need to think more about complements. I've never been one to see a bag as part of my outfit since I typically only carry one to work. I also wasn't a belt wearer for years, then got into them, then shrunk two pant sizes and of course they don't fit. I tend to be pretty minimal when it comes to accessories, since a huge part of my style for years was layering to accommodate the daily climate swings in CO. I wore fairly simple clothing with very little extra detailing and few accessories, since I often was wearing 3 or 4 layers which added interest -- too much detail left me feeling fussy. I liked shoes which added a pop of color, since I didn't wear a ton of non-neutrals in most of my clothing items but did a lot of neutral-mixing for tone-on-tone looks.

    Arizona is a different ball game. I find my truly lightweight summer clothes get drug down by my keys and phone, so I'm becoming an adopter of the smallish crossbody for errands and other non-work outings and need to hunt for a new option or two, since I'm currently using a pleather gift-with-purchase. I'm trying to get back into belts, especially since higher rises (which I don't do for comfort reasons since things marketed as high rise press on my ribs) are more popular-- I find with my short rise I can create a similar look with a mid-rise jean if I add a belt to make tucking or a more cropped shirt look intentional, especially with retro-inspired looks.

    Without layers and other accessories, I'm finding my higher contrast (pop) shoes harder to work into outfits without looking lonely. I still love them,  so I need to figure that out. However, I can't see myself wearing a red belt with red shoes, for example.

  • 3style replied 2 months ago

    Elly, I have much the same issues and preferences, so as you are thinking about where you want to go with this, I’d love to read a new thread about your experience. I’ve been sticking with neutral or metallic shoes in recent years as a result of neither liking lonely or matching shoes, but if I did want an exciting color, I don’t have much of a feeling for a useful accessory compliment for myself.

    My other issue is that I’m the only “fashionista” most people I know know, so I tend to get a fair number of random accessories as gifts and hand-me-downs. Often I’ll end up with something I like but that I don’t want more items of the same genre.

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