Matching separates have been called a lot bad things over the years, from old-fashioned to tacky and costumey, but in the past year they’ve transitioned to one of the hottest runway looks.

Featured in many Fall 2014 and resort 2015 collections, including Gucci and Ralph Lauren, matching separates are here to stay. Take a look at the most important matchy-matchy style rules, that can help you navigate this trend while keeping it stylish and chic.

1. Stick to Just Two Separates

Once you accept that matching separates can work as part of any type of look, from elegant to casual, it’s important to rein it in. Adding a third matching item to your two separates is definitely taking it too far, and pushing it in costumey territory. You have to be particularly careful about how you style your look if the two separates make up your entire look (not counting accessories).

Matchy Matchy Runway Trend

2. Use Neutrals to Create Balance

If wearing a head to toe color or print feels like too much, one of the most useful matchy-matchy style rules is to use a simple neutral to balance out your look. Whether you’re going to match a solid color or a print, make sure that your neutrals don’t include too much texture. A knit could easily make the whole look too busy.

Two Piece Matchy Outfit
photo: Lara D.

3. Don’t Go Too Far with Accessories

A clear way to make your look over the top is to overpower it with flashy accessories. When you’re wearing matching separates look for a bag and shoes that stand out without competing too much for attention with your outfit. The same principle goes for jewelry, layered chunky necklaces might end up proving too much for a matchy-matchy look, but a cocktail ring and smaller earrings could definitely work.

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Matchy Matchy Fashion Versace

4. Avoid Matching Your Polish Color to Your Outfit

One of the most important matchy-matchy style rules is to stick to just your separates. Once you start matching things like shoes or nail polish to your outfit, you’re definitely stepping outside of the trend and risk looking like you’re wearing a costume.

Matchy Matchy Lips And Nails

5. If You Match Makeup and Nails, Forget the Matchy-Matchy Outfit

One of the coolest beauty looks for Fall 2014 is pairing silver eyeshadow with gunmetal nails. Seen on the runway during the Vera Wang show, this detail is already pretty matchy-matchy, so it might not be the best fit with matching separates, whether you’re headed to the office or a party. Doubling up on the matching may work on the runway, but it’s too risky for the street.

Matchy Matchy Black And White Stripes

6. Choose Prints Carefully

The matchy-matchy style rules are especially important when you’re getting printed separates. Even if you style it perfectly, remember to pick a print that works for you. Smaller prints can help achieve a slimming effect, while larger and bulkier prints might be a bad idea if they draw attention to your waist or hips in a less than flattering way. Don’t forget what works for your body type when you try this trend.

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Matchy Matchy Tartan Look
photo: Kavita D.

7. Don’t Be Afraid to Rock a Bold Lip

A bold red lip helps most matchy-matchy looks pop, but if you’re going for something a bit more subtle, you can experiment with different shades that are among the hottest Fall 2014 makeup color trends. Plum lips can also work wonders for fall, while a high-shine bronze is equally trendy, but less office appropriate.

8. Go Subtle with Animal Prints

If you’re thinking of rocking the trend with an animal print, you’ll have to be extra careful when it comes to the rest of the matchy-matchy style rules. A natural animal print can definitely prove too much, so try a version in softer neutrals or bolder shades that skew more abstract.

Matchy Matchy Separates Look
photo: Lisa Olsson

9. Bring Outerwear into the Mix

As seen on the runway during the Burberry Fall 2014 show, matching coats and scarves are another matchy-matchy option. If the separates feel too bold, then try the trend with outerwear, or simply with a matching scarf.

Matchy Matchy Kim And Kanye

10. Avoid a Matchy-Matchy Effect with Your Date

While Kim and Kanye can usually pull it off, one of the most obvious matchy-matchy style rules is to never try to cram both matching separates and pieces that match your partner in the same look. Unless it’s Halloween, it’s too over the top.