No Frump-How to Coordinate Outfits With Color, Dichotomy, and Proportion

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How do we coordinate outfits? I bet for most of us it is a recipe for our looks that we have been using since we were kids.
When we were younger, we might have used the Grananimals clothing line to make sure our items matched. As adults, we think we are past that, but sometimes we can look dated if we use the same outfit formula year after year.

Quote of the day: “If you never question things, your life ends up being limited by other people’s imaginations. ” James Clear

Coordinate outfits without the frump
What makes an outfit frumpy?
Dichotomy of styles-mix them up
Color-add in a different color
Proportion-Think 1/3 to 2/3

There are many ways to coordinate outfits without looking frumpy yet still feel authentic to our personality. I broke it down into 3 categories that the three of us showcased.
Remember, if you continue to style things as you did in the past, you might appear dated. Why do we even care about looking contemporary?

One of my friends was just talking about how older women can feel invisible. This concept can be traced back to how we coordinate outfits.
Our bodies have changed, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be intentional in how we dress and look like we live in the 2020s.

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Ways to coordinate outfits

What Makes an Outfit Frumpy?

Man, if that isn’t the $64,000 question, right? I’ve delved into the question in a popular post that is googled many times a week. In this older article, I questioned both millennials and midlifers to see their answers.

Considering none of us strives to look bad or old-fashioned (unless you are looking for a Halloween costume) then the idea of frump can be so elusive. There’s not ONE point and it’s very subjective.
That’s why I wanted to hit on these four points for how to coordinate outfits.

1Dichotomy of styles. Think yin and yang. Usually, we tend to think styles should match as in dressy clothes and dressy shoes. Or a classic dress and classic blazer. But the whole idea to mix it up is the modern way to do things. Just like we use our phones to take pictures. Things change and so should you!

2-Add in a different color. If you continuously match colors as we did with the Grananimals, you are definitely dating yourself and your outfits. Combining interesting color combinations and mixing in a third unrelated color can transform your look from ho-hum to interesting.
In fact, think about how interior decorators do this same idea with a room. It’s rare to walk into a room that is only decorated in 2 colors. It would seem boring. It’s the same with your looks and how we coordinate outfits.

3Proportions or balance. It’s especially frumpy to be wearing items that are too loose and baggy because it gives off a sloppy vibe. Yet as older women, we tend towards looser items instead of tight clothes. Thus, working with proportions and finding a good balance can be the key to an outfit that shows how fabulous you are.

4. Focus. You want to have something of interest in every outfit. Something that grabs people’s attention and gives them pause. Even with 2 loose items of clothing, you can still look fabulous if you have a focal point for your look.

Coordinate Outfits with Dichotomy

My mom is probably so sick of the word dichotomy because I would use it over and over when I was helping her style her outfits. It’s not how we were taught to coordinate outfits, so it’s not always easy to put into practice.

Now compare this outfit when my mom wore it with all dressy items including heels and a ruffled jacket which copies the feminine vibe of the dress. DON’T get me wrong. I love the original feminine, dressy outfit too especially because of the hot pink paired with the blue.
But it’s also good to mix things up and this outfit has loads of dichotomy.

Let me explain:
1-The dress-it’s girly with the ruffles and as a dress we think of it as fancy
2-A moto jacket- these are considered edgy and casual
3-The cowboy ankle boots-they are casual and have a southwestern flair.

All of these elements together create a very diverse outfit that works in our favor of us standing out instead of being invisible.


For my mom’s accessories, she added in her Ovcio scarf (seen in this post) to fill in the neckline for cooler temperatures. Any scarf would work for this, but I like how mom is incorporating #2 (a different color) with her scarf and purse.
If she had worn a blue/tan scarf, it would seem more like old-lady fashion and that’s when the invisibility factor comes in.

The booties are also very modern. Cowboy boots have been hitting the scene for this last year, and the shorter versions have been around even longer. You can see how my mom styled these with an all-red outfit in the past.

And then the red purse is a great way to add a focal point and something of a different color. There’s no frump here!

Related post: Ways to wear cowboy boots

Leather jacket and ruffle dress

Add Different Colors (Basically Don’t be Matchy-Matchy)

Adding a third color to coordinate outfits without looking matchy
Skirt: Toad Road ~~Shorts: ~~ Pants: ~~ Jeans: ~~ Jacket: Chicos ~~ Top: Vivianne-Steinmart ~~ Shoes: Amalfi-Macys ~~ Scarf: Coldwater Creek~~ Purse: NL-Steinmart

Now let’s talk colors. Color is important and can grab people’s attention easily. That’s why I think we should give up the all-black clothing items because you fade away in those.
Maybe we should blame the Grananimals for always thinking we have to “match” colors. I know that’s how we were brought up but think about it. If you wear a blue and white jacket and everything else is blue or white, then it all just blends together. And again, it’s an easy way to become invisible.

Compare this outfit to when Lesley wore this jacket with an all-white column of color (yet still added in red pops of color). Just like with my mom’s comparison outfit, I loved Lesley in the older look too. Yet here is a way to get more uses out of a jacket like this by pairing it with different color schemes.

It is funny to see how Lesley tends to pair red with this blue jacket. I would venture to say that this blue jacket would look fabulous with yellow, pink, orange/peach, and even green. The possibilities are endless.

The nice thing about adding a third (or even more) color to an outfit is it starts to look like a work of art. If you’ve ever been to an art museum and admired the paintings, you will see that a majority of them incorporate all kinds of colors. Not just 2 matching ones.


Lesley’s purse is a prime example of how to incorporate texture into a look too. The black purse goes with the skirt and shoes, yet it has that texture that gives it more interest.

Insider tip: If you have trouble finding a coat to wear over your blazers and bulkier items, a wrap or scarf is the perfect option. We’ve talked about it in the past.

And I love how Lesley wore a short necklace even with her cowl neck.

Related post: Necklaces to wear with a cowl neck top

Blazer for older women

Proportions and Balance with Straight-Leg Pants

The idea of proportion and balance is huge when we coordinate outfits. It’s not always something easy to figure out but if something doesn’t seem right with your outfit, it could be the proportion.

If you need more side-by-side examples of differing proportions in the same look, you’ll love this article.

Now that we are seeing more straight-leg jeans that are baggier, we might need to rethink some of the tops we wear with them. I wanted to compare both a tunic-length black top with a waist-length black sweater so you could see the difference.

The longer top and baggier jeans definitely give off a sloppy vibe. There are two things that are competing against each other:
1-The tunic hits right below my crotch area and cuts my body in half. While I try not to have absolute rules in what I wear, most times this isn’t a great look. Even with skinny jeans, I try to wear a longer tunic just to skew the proportions.
2-Another proportion factor is the baggy vs tight. When you wear a baggier item, it’s good to balance it with a tighter item. While the black sweater certainly is not skin-tight, you do see a bit of shape under it and it’s fitted at the waist.

Insider tip: I don’t care what size you wear or what body shape, showing a little shape is a GOOD thing.

Since I was thinking about proportion with this outfit, I also chose a shorter jacket since it was chilly outside. The leather jacket has a bit of peplum shaping from the back (you can see in the rear view of the 3 of us at the bottom), which is my favorite part of it.

Related post: What to wear with pink pants

One reason that I like a scarf in my hair like this is to have some of it hang down the back of my sweater. With a silky scarf, I do anchor it with 2 bobby pins on the back of my head.

Insider tip: One of my favorite sayings is that just as many people see you from the rear view so give them something fun to look at.

I made my “necklace” by attaching a lobster chain decoration to one of my brooches. I showcased it in this video if you want a closer look.

Related post: Not your grandma’s way to wear a brooch

Straigh leg jeans with shorter sweater
Women over 50 and coordinate outfits without looking dated
Coordinate outfits without frump

Photo credit: Rob Filogomo

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Welcome to Jodie’s Touch of Style. I’m here to prove that it’s never too late to look great. Clothing and style are meant to showcase your inner personality. So let’s have fun and try new things.

It’s not just about me on this blog, but also about my mother and friend. We get to showcase not only different decades of life but also different body shapes and unique personal styles.

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