Set Match Game

Photography by Michael Dummler

Photography by Michael Dummler

Yes, I love tennis and no, I couldn’t help myself when thinking of a title for this post. The new wave of coordinated set dressing really excites me. When I was growing up, my mother emphasized the importance of matching whenever possible and I came to intuit over time that matching and coordination signaled to the world you had your act together. As a child of the 80’s, matchy matchy styles and strategic color coordination have always looked right to my eye, even when the idea of matching became theoretically “out”. The return of all things coordinated is one big #throwbackthursday for me and I like it.

Last week on the Today Show,  I had the opportunity to show three ways you can pull off a coordinated top and bottom set no matter what your age. It felt important to explore because when the two piece set emerged onto the fashion scene as a crop top and coordinated bottom, it didn’t feel like the most inclusive idea the fashion world had ever come up with.  Today I am happy to report the trend has expanded so that everyone can find something that works.

Only you know what your comfort level is as far as showing skin.  There are no set rules about sets :-) BUT for those of you who like some guardrails around what’s appropriate, hopefully you will find this helpful.

  1. SHOWING MIDRIFF- in your teens, twenties and thirties,  I’m a fan of a little midriff or a peek-a-boo moment. If your midriff is whispering “let me out”, go for it!  There are so many options in the matching set universe that you get to decide if it’s a “suggestion” of skin or what us New Yorkers refer to as a real  “gap between the train and the station”. All those hours punching the lights out of that bag at Rumble or navigating the choreo at Tracy Anderson have given you a stomach so hard you have choices: You can a) use your stomach as a tray to serve drinks on to summer guests, OR b) let the cat out of the bag and just buy an awesome ab baring set and show your hard won six-pack? You decide. For me, the key to investing in one of these sets is proportion. If the top is tiny, I like the bottom to be a little higher waisted or longer in length. If both top and bottom are teeny weeny maybe better for the teeny years? Again, it’s your call.

       2. MEET AND GREET- I LOVE the sets where the bottom of the top grazes the top of the bottom and says “Hey, how you doing?”. In fashionese, it's affectionately known as a “meet and greet” style. The good news is that this season designers are really developing more styles that do this because more women want this look as opposed to a completely skin baring ensemble! Even better when you find one where the suggestion of your skin is there but nothing shows. This requires some trial and error since all our measurements are different. I am a big fan of this look personally.


     3. FULL COVERAGE- There are so many options in sets that cover the mid section. When you find one like the Polka Dot Ruffle set from Top Shop set I featured on the Today Show you know it’s a keeper. The set is great worn together but even more fulfilling is breaking up the pieces and styling them into your existing wardrobe to make multiple outfits.  You know how I feel about a great cost per wear situation! The idea of coordinated sets is inclusive of more than just tops and skirt bottoms. Pajama style lounge sets look modern and are a comfortable option for those of you looking to wear the trend while being less constricted.

Below is my setlist in stores now that I’m excited about as well as my new Ulla Johnson look. I invested in these two pieces because like hot fudge and Haagen Daaz Vanilla ice cream, I love them as much together as I do apart. And by the way, as far as females one only need reference by first name only, add #Ulla to your Oprah/Madonna file.  If you don’t know about Ulla Johnson, she is making fashion waves with her feminine cool style- some of the best fashion out there right now period. I’m counting on my set game to ensure a winning rest of the summer.