Mix-and-Match Clothing

The trend during the 1950s to wear matching clothing ensembles was followed by women from every social class. After the rationing, or limiting, of fabrics during World War II (1939–45), women embraced the availability of luxuries once again. Their outfits reflected the flood of products on the market. Accessories once limited by the war were available in all price ranges. Women eagerly accented their flowing skirts with an array of hats, gloves, belts, handbags, and shoes. But by the 1950s women's desire to accessorize began to fade. To combat falling sales, manufacturers advertised a new fashion: mix-and-match clothing.

Matching ensembles became a craze among women in the United States and Europe. Women of the 1950s began obsessively matching the various pieces of their outfits, buying bags, belts, hats, gloves, shoes, costume jewelry, and even nail polish in matching colors. Designers also began creating mix-and-match outfits, enabling women to wear specially designed looks. Mix-and-match clothing styles allowed women to wear completely coordinated ensembles.

In the 1960s women began to foster their own individualized styles and shunned mix-and-match clothing. However, the legacy of mix-and-match clothing lives on in children's clothing. The Garanimals brand of children's clothing created in 1972 continues to sell mix-and-match clothing that identifies matching separates with colorful animal tags. Children can choose their own clothing outfits by matching the types of animals on the tags, confident in knowing that a shirt and pair of pants labeled with matching panda tags will look good together.


Ewing, Elizabeth. History of Twentieth Century Fashion. Revised by Alice Mackrell. Lanham, MD: Barnes and Noble Books, 1992.

[ See also Volume 5, 1946–60: New Look ]

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