You know those days when nothing (and I mean nothing) you put on works? You recognise the scene: clothes are strewn everywhere, frustration is growing; even your favourite skirt, the one you normally ~love~ is not doing its job. Well, good news, because there’s an easy fix: matching sets.
There is a matching set for every mood, a co-ord to cater for every occasion. Attending a cocktail party? Try a slinky, silky number, worn with kitten heels. Heading to the office? Go for a more structured look.
“Matching sets are great because they’re a bit of a cheat,” says stylist Bree Macara. “You’ll look pulled together in an instant.” Plus, she adds, you can wear both pieces as a set, or separately to get more value per wear.
We asked three stylish women to be photographed in their take on a matching set….
Ali Smyth wears: A structured set
Ali Smyth has a lot on her plate. She is the founder and director of PR firm Electric Collective, a mother to two children, one of the masterminds behind some Sydney’s best venues (Liberty Hall, Mary’s, The Unicorn and Mary’s Underground, to name a few), and is also on the board of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra – no biggie.
She’s also known for her edgy, off-kilter style. A lover of “structured silhouettes with a wildcard edge”, Ali opted for a Vivienne Westwood set in plaid for this shoot. “The double print is pretty striking – it’s a conversation starter,” she explains.
Matching sets work especially well in her line of work, she says. “Working in the creative industry, I can get away with wearing things that you probably wouldn’t in a corporate environment. I can wear them to a client meeting, an event or just the office.”
Another plus of matching sets? The cost per wear. “You can splurge on a high-end piece and get multiple looks out of it.” To maximise the value of your set, lean into mixing and matching it – pair the bottoms and top with other pieces for a fresh look each time.
Ultimately, Ali says that fashion is a way to spread joy. “That’s the nice thing about print on print and a mass of colours; it makes people smile. It’s nice to be responsible for that.”
Ilkin Kurt wears: A sophisticated set
Ilkin Kurt is the sort of person you notice walking down the street and think about for days after. She’s just… cool.
Stylist, consultant, creative director… during her career, Ilkin has worn all these hats and more, thanks to her innate and effortless style. The Sydneysider grew up in a family of artists, and this creative lineage shows in her wardrobe choices. Her style is impulsive and experimental, leaning heavily into vintage pieces. Her wardrobe in three words? “Comfortable, eclectic and unexpected, sometimes.”
Every time I wear a matching set, it feels like I’m channelling my mum. It’s a connection with my childhood and upbringing.
Ilkin’s love for matching sets stretches back to her childhood in Turkey. “I grew up in a really small town where we didn’t have shopping centres. Instead, everyone had a tailor. You’d go and choose your fabric, go to tailor, and tell them what you want… my Mum always got pants and blazers, or skirts and blazers.
“Every time I wear a matching set, it feels like I’m channelling my mum. It’s a connection with my childhood and upbringing.
Lesley Crawford wears: A bold set
As long-time network stylist at SBS, Lesley Crawford is most well-known for styling other people. But her own wardrobe is just as fascinating – colourful, bold and full of personality.
Take one look at her Instagram and you’ll find that her staples are large frames, neon fabrics, chunky sandals and, of course, matching sets in all sorts of prints. In fact, Lesley is a bona fide co-ord devotee: “I have evening sets, morning sets, and day sets, depending on the occasion and where I’m doing.”
Versatility is key, and while finding a wardrobe that works for you is important, so too is exploring different styles. “I don’t like to be too predictable. Sometimes I wear a lot of colour and print, sometimes I wear monotone. I don’t like to be bored.”
When it comes to styling tips — and, as a stylist, she’s got a lot of them— Lesley recommends focusing on the overall shape. “You need to get the proportions right.”
While most of us here at PRIMER love to mix and match with our sets, Lesley isn’t so inclined. “If I’ve got a matching set, I wear it together.” Sets are in, and Lesley is running with it. “These days matching sets are much more in vogue than they used to be. People used to think you were wearing PJs.”
Photographer: Saskia Wilson
Stylist: Bree Macara
Hair and Make-up: Georgia Ramman