There’s little doubt that matching your handbag to your shoes makes for a polished finish, but by no means is it a must. In fact, you can add interest and layers to an outfit by avoiding the matchy-matchy look; just be sure the colors and styles you’re working with are complementary.

Merry Matching

If your business-as-usual bag is black or brown, it is easy to match your shoes for a pulled-together finish. Also opt for near-matches in the same color family, such as a charcoal hobo and black shoes or a chocolate satchel and medium-brown boots.

Cool and Complementary

Don’t shy away from a bright yellow or deep purple handbag just because you lack the footwear. Instead, evaluate your head-to-toe look when incorporating a standout hue and choose your shoes accordingly to let the bag be the star. Rock a black dress with black heels and a red clutch, or team a warm orange tote with a similarly warm pair of tan wedges. Select a print to complement instead of match; opt for a beige-and-black snakeskin shoulder bag with nude pumps or black boots.

Style Sympatico

The styles of the bag and shoes should work together. Keep both the occasion and level of dressiness in mind -- think straw totes and sandals, oversize satchels and chunky boots or a jeweled clutch and strappy high heels. The colors don’t have to match, but your feet and your hand (or shoulder) should tell the same story.