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Why purposeful pairing and compellingly coordinated ensembles are always in style.


by Lindsay Samson

Oct 26, 2020

Just last year, InStyle magazine published an article that scientifically declared looks considered “too coordinated” a fashion sin. Citing a study called “The Science of Style: In Fashion, Colors Should Only Match Moderately” in which researchers at the University of North Carolina asked participants to rate clothing according to how "fashionable, good, and liked" they considered them, the piece explored whether "matchy-matchy" looks are really the fashion no-no that some consider them to be. Interestingly enough, they arrived at the conclusion that "maximum fashionableness is attained when outfits are neither too coordinated nor too different”, an idea that experts surmised as being in line with the natural human tendency to seek balance.

Be the science as it may, we can’t agree entirely. Is there any other ensemble that makes you look as instantly pulled together and chic, sans effort, as a coordinating top and bottom? It’s almost as easy as just slipping on a dress: both pieces working in harmony with the other to bring about a reassuring synchronicity that’s sure to prove an antidote to the chaos of everyday life. So, whether you’re putting together a nighttime look that pops, or just want something chic to spend a workday in, here are our favorite coordinating sets to create your own swoon-worthy matching moment. Shop the full collection, here.

Emmy Kasbit’s Ojongo Suit Set

This Suit Set from Nigerian ready-to-wear brand Emmy Kasbit is an exercise in modern sophistication. The hand-crafted offbeat set offers its wearer an air of refinement and an undeniable cool factor. There's also something deliciously soothing about the brand’s designer, Emmanuel Okoro’s choice of color. The soft, almost pastel-like lavender colored blazer blends seamlessly with the rich, grapey purple of the set’s woven tapered trousers. And while there’s no denying the garments’ expert tailoring and sharp cuts, an unexpected flap detailing on the oversized jacket introduces a welcome touch of eccentricity to the ensemble. A full “look” in its own right, the set requires minimal styling and accessorizing as its notch lapel and button detail, as well as the unusual woven pattern emblazoned across the bottoms, are all you’ll need to turn heads. We advise choosing the most delicate of jewelry options to go along with this suit; slight huggie sleepers on the ears and a fine gold chain upon the neck are really all that’s called for.

Ojongo Suit Set
Ojongo Suit Set
Ojongo Suit Set
Ojongo Suit Set

Emmy Kasbit

Ojongo Suit Set

$270
Olive Cantadora Earrings
Olive Cantadora Earrings
Olive Cantadora Earrings
Olive Cantadora Earrings

Pichulik

Olive Cantadora Earrings

$145
Lindi Minaudière in Dusk
Lindi Minaudière in Dusk
Lindi Minaudière in Dusk
Lindi Minaudière in Dusk

Khokho Collection

Lindi Minaudière in Dusk

$385
White Fah Regal Sandals
White Fah Regal Sandals

Loza Maleombho

White Fah Regal Sandals

$110

Lisa Folawiyo’s Cropped Jacket and Wide Leg Pants

Over the past few years, Nigerian designer Lisa Folawiyo has emerged as something of a celebrity favorite, her garments being donned by some of the world’s most stylish women including Issa Rae, Lupita Nyong'o, and more. Artisanally made by local communities using eco-friendly upcycling practices, the designer’s matching Cropped Jacket and Wide Leg Pants serve as fine evidence as to why the brand is beloved by Hollywood glitterati. Cut from a soft, breathable cotton, Folawiyo’s streamlined set is a visually arresting choice for the fearless, the patterns of its contrasting, patterned panels of cotton mesmerizing in their complexity. Peer at both garments a little closer and you’ll notice the abstractly depicted women dancing across hues of navy blue and white, baroque embellishment completing the ornate visual. And where the trousers sit mid-waist, the matching jacket is cropped, these two precisely shaped garments combining to create a flattering silhouette that exudes confidence and poise no matter what you style it with. 

Cropped Jacket
Cropped Jacket
Cropped Jacket
Cropped Jacket

Lisa Folawiyo

Cropped Jacket

$390
Wide Leg Pants
Wide Leg Pants
Wide Leg Pants

Lisa Folawiyo

Wide Leg Pants

$420
Sodalite Garland Hoop Earrings
Sodalite Garland Hoop Earrings
Sodalite Garland Hoop Earrings

Pichulik

Sodalite Garland Hoop Earrings

$95
Mini Torero Backpack
Mini Torero Backpack
Mini Torero Backpack
Mini Torero Backpack
Mini Torero Backpack
Mini Torero Backpack
Mini Torero Backpack

Reform Studio

Mini Torero Backpack

$180
Inggy Regal Sandals
Inggy Regal Sandals

Loza Maleombho

Inggy Regal Sandals

$95

Orange Culture’s Sohan Shirt and Rume Pants

Made from a luxurious crinkle silk where swirling tones of tangerine, sapphire, mossy green, and buttercup yellow spiral among muted notes of black and white, Orange Culture’s matching Sohan Shirt and Rume Pants is the type of colorful, look-at-me get up that we simply can’t resist. Made in Nigeria’s capital of Lagos, the loose-fitting shirt features a wrap detail and detachable belt, meaning that you’re free to play around with the silhouette as you please. Our favourite element of the audacious pairing has to be those slick little ankle slits that complete the slim-leg pant. Though barely discernible at first glance, the slits are a savvy addition that allows your choice of footwear to share in the spotlight. We suggest stepping into the bona-fide closet staple that is the barely-there stiletto sandal: effortlessly chic and exceptionally subtle, it’s a choice that’ll ensure the audacious set remains the main event. 

Sohan Printed Shirt
Sohan Printed Shirt
Sohan Printed Shirt
Sohan Printed Shirt

Orange Culture

Sohan Printed Shirt

$273
Rume Printed Pants
Rume Printed Pants

Orange Culture

Rume Printed Pants

$272
Vessel Drop Earrings
Vessel Drop Earrings
Vessel Drop Earrings

Ami Doshi Shah

Vessel Drop Earrings

$200
Green Sultan Wallet
Green Sultan Wallet
Green Sultan Wallet
Green Sultan Wallet

Bouswari

Green Sultan Wallet

$92
Thila Heels
Thila Heels
Thila Heels
Thila Heels

Loza Maleombho

Thila Heels

$275

Studio 189’s Blouson Shirt and A-Line Ladder Skirt

Made from the highest quality cotton, this hand-batiked shirt and skirt set by Rosario Dawson and Abrima Erwiah’s label, Studio 189, is an artisanal answer to the traditional, professional look of a pencil skirt and matching jacket. Painstakingly crafted by local Ghanaian artisans in a process that can take up to two weeks to complete, the black and blue button down features blouson sleeves, a charming detail that imparts an air of femininity, while the matching A-Line skirt emphasises this feeling with its classic, ladylike shape. Swashed in eye-catching blue prints that were created using the traditional Batik method (an Indonesian technique—that has a long history of use in Ghana— wherein motifs are cut into stamps that are dipped into hot wax and impressed onto the fabric), this pairing is a no-nonsense get up that radiates an understated strength. 

Blouson Ladder Shirt
Blouson Ladder Shirt
Blouson Ladder Shirt
Blouson Ladder Shirt

Studio 189

Blouson Ladder Shirt

$195
A Line Ladder Skirt
A Line Ladder Skirt
A Line Ladder Skirt

Studio 189

A Line Ladder Skirt

$225
Pangolin Haka Earrings
Pangolin Haka Earrings
Pangolin Haka Earrings
Pangolin Haka Earrings
Pangolin Haka Earrings
Pangolin Haka Earrings
Pangolin Haka Earrings
Pangolin Haka Earrings

Patrick Mavros

Pangolin Haka Earrings

$235
Baba Berry Bag
Baba Berry Bag
Baba Berry Bag
Baba Berry Bag
Baba Berry Bag
Baba Berry Bag

AAKS

Baba Berry Bag

$286
Dark Blue Ilamoye Mule
Dark Blue Ilamoye Mule
Dark Blue Ilamoye Mule
Dark Blue Ilamoye Mule

Shekudo

Dark Blue Ilamoye Mule

$229

Awa Meite’s Point Fringe Skirt and dress

Based in Mali’s Bamako, the collections of designer Awa Meité’s eponymous label are an exercise in sustainable simplicity, many of their artisanally crafted garments looking sensational when paired together. Take the brand’s Point Fringe Skirt and Dress for example; while the black and white co-ords can certainly be worn separately for a more pared-back effect, wearing one with the other creates a bold statement look that we love. Both garments feature a captivating geometric print and purposefully “unfinished” appearance and when teamed together, they impart an air of clear confidence and singular elegance. Made from traditional mudcloth, the skirt (which sits mid-waist) and dress (which doubles as a top in this case) can easily be pulled off with little to no accessorizing, although we’re partial to the sense of cohesion a beaded earring in corresponding colors and minimalist, slip-on mule lends.

Point Fringe Dress
Point Fringe Dress
Point Fringe Dress

Awa Meité

Point Fringe Dress

$275
Point Fringe Skirt
Point Fringe Skirt
Point Fringe Skirt

Awa Meité

Point Fringe Skirt

$287
Kifungo Short Tassel Earrings
Kifungo Short Tassel Earrings
Kifungo Short Tassel Earrings
Kifungo Short Tassel Earrings

Sidai Designs

Kifungo Short Tassel Earrings

$70
Ball Bag in Chalk
Ball Bag in Chalk
Ball Bag in Chalk
Ball Bag in Chalk
Ball Bag in Chalk
Ball Bag in Chalk

Khokho Collection

Ball Bag in Chalk

$495
Light Blue Ilamoye Mule
Light Blue Ilamoye Mule
Light Blue Ilamoye Mule
Light Blue Ilamoye Mule
Light Blue Ilamoye Mule

Shekudo

Light Blue Ilamoye Mule

$229

Studio 189’s Green and Monochrome Blazer and Andy Pant Sets

Another hit from Studio 189, the brand’s Double Breasted Blazer and Andy Pant sets (available in both a striped mossy green and classic black and white) deliver all the power of the pantsuit with none of the stuffiness. Though they’re undeniably sophisticated creations, the hand-woven, textured fugu fabric from which they are rendered and their boxy fit make them equally casual and unpretentious. Thanks to this laid-back spirit, they are the perfect ensembles for everything from a day running errands to a relaxed lunch date. We're all for teaming the monochrome set with a classic sneaker style in a bright color to add that extra bit of allure. If green’s your color, you know where to turn: pair the classically cut blazer and pants with a fitted white T-shirt, and a pair of dainty, flat sandals, to channel the feel-good spirit of summer even through these cooler months. 

Green Andy Pants
Green Andy Pants
Green Andy Pants
Green Andy Pants

Studio 189

Green Andy Pants

$375
Green Double-Breasted Blazer
Green Double-Breasted Blazer
Green Double-Breasted Blazer
Green Double-Breasted Blazer

Studio 189

Green Double-Breasted Blazer

$575
Patched Front T-shirt
Patched Front T-shirt
Patched Front T-shirt

IAMISIGO

Patched Front T-shirt

$137
Ishtar Earrings
Ishtar Earrings
Ishtar Earrings

Pichulik

Ishtar Earrings

$210
Small Black Yemaja Shoulder Bag
Small Black Yemaja Shoulder Bag
Small Black Yemaja Shoulder Bag
Small Black Yemaja Shoulder Bag
Small Black Yemaja Shoulder Bag
Small Black Yemaja Shoulder Bag
Small Black Yemaja Shoulder Bag

OKAPI

Small Black Yemaja Shoulder Bag

$1,390
Green Stripe Kakawa Toe Mule
Green Stripe Kakawa Toe Mule
Green Stripe Kakawa Toe Mule
Green Stripe Kakawa Toe Mule
Green Stripe Kakawa Toe Mule

Shekudo

Green Stripe Kakawa Toe Mule

$210