Science Says Matching Your Clothes Isn’t Fashionable: Study

Caroline McCloskey

Ever wish you could have Cher Horowitz‘s outfit-creating computer from “Clueless” so you never made a fashion misstep again? Us too. But until then, we’ll just have to rely on science when it comes to creating the perfect look.

Fast Company recently reported on a new study, done by researchers at the University of North Carolina, Duke, and Carnegie Melon that tried to determine exactly what makes the perfect outfit. Psychologists involved in the study asked 239 subjects to rate how fashionable men and women were from drawings. From that they devised a chart which assesses how fashionable an outfit is. The chart was able to predict judgements across four different color palates and ultimately the study concluded that: “Maximum fashionableness is attained when outfits are neither too coordinated nor too different.”

MORE: Every Single Outfit Cher Horowitz Wore in ‘Clueless’

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Apparently, being fashionable in the eyes of others means striking just the right balance of matching and color coordination. In the study, the subjects saw 30 different color combinations of outfits and found that the Goldilocks Principle, which says people prefer to strike a balance between two extremes, applies to matching our clothes too.

MORE: Trend To Try Now: Matching Your Shoes To Your Outfit

The study suggests “selecting a color combination that is neither completely uniform, nor completely different. Certainly, moderate matching is not the only key to fashion, which varies across time and culture and depends upon many factors including cut, design, and trendiness.” Basically, try not to be too matchy-matchy, but also don’t completely clash colors and patterns.

So, is fashion an art or a science? We say don’t go throwing out your matching print outfits that were all the rage this summer, just yet. This is only the first look into understanding what scientists are calling “an empirical approach to fashionableness.” The ever-changing fashion world always has a way of surprising us—oftentimes the trendsetters are the ones breaking the rules. Who knows, maybe matching acid wash denim outfits will make a comeback. Well hopefully not, but you catch our drift.

MORE: 30 Ways to Wear Your Denim Cutoffs All Summer