You're undoubtedly altering your approach to summer dressing this season, but that doesn't mean giving up on the hits. Lightweight dresses, denim cut-offs, and breathable jumpsuits are key players in the heat. Stylish swimwear and woven accessories play a pertinent role, too. But when you want to level up your look — and take a much-need break from leisurewear — two-piece sets epitomize effortless summer style. New-season options span all aesthetics with fresh versions on offer from legacy brands and emerging designers alike. So, if you tend sporty, revel a maximalist vibe, subscribe to minimalism, or mix it up, there's, no doubt, a two-piece summer set with your name on it.
Two-piece sets are typically go-to's for vacations, parties, and summertime activities like festivals and concerts, but despite scaled-back social and travel calendars, they can still rank high in your rotation of outfits. Consider a set for errands, a stroll, or a socially-distanced outing. At the very least, some good old coordination can boost your mood, like neon jewelry or summer's daisy trend. Whether you opt for a bold pattern, vibrant color, or muted hue, a two-piece set is essentially a ready-made outfit. Add in accessories, and you're good to go.
Of course, it's not always that easy. You might idealize an outfit in your head, but feel deflated by a lackluster result after putting it on. If this sounds familiar, especially when it comes to two-piece sets, fret not. Guidance from celebrity and editorial stylists might be the exact help you need, and four are sharing outfit tips ahead. These pros are behind looks worn by Beyoncé, Rihanna, Kelly Rowland, and more. So, it's safe to say their know-how, coupled with an edit of pieces to shop, is sound. Keep reading for all the two-piece set inspiration. It starts with the right top-and-bottom pairing for you. Then, once these style tips are at play, the impact-potential of your next two-piece set outfit is exponential.
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How to Wear A Two-Piece Set: Embrace Color
Courtney Madison — an LA-based stylist whose worked with A-listers from Beyoncé and Rihanna to Katy Perry and Mindy Kaling — likes two-piece sets as an easy way to wear fun patterns and bright colors. "I think more is more," Madison tells TZR.
"If you chose a patterned two-piece set, I recommend pulling out the colors in the pattern and using them to accessorize." If a pattern is green, blue, and pink, Madison says to wear pink shoes and earrings in a similar shade as the pattern. For a solid two-piece set, she recommends colorful accessories in complementary hues like green with yellow, red with orange, and purple with blue. "It's a fun way to make a monochromic look a little more dynamic."
How to Wear A Two-Piece Set: Style With Summery Accessories
"Not everyone's summer go-to is a dress," says Georgia Medley, a London-based stylist who has dressed Nathalie Emmanuel and Jorja Smith for Harper's Bazaar UK and Rochelle Humes for the red carpet, advocating for the two-piece set look. "Matching sets tend to give you a monochrome look you would get with a dress; it's just slightly more interesting when separated." The stylist says sets often showcase a person's style more, too. "They're the perfect combination of creativity and class."
With a patterned set, Medley suggests simple accessories like a flat or kitten-heel sandal and a bag in a natural material like rattan or raffia. If you're unabashed by print-clashing, she suggests graphic patterns like gingham and zebra together but recommends sticking to the same color palette for a cohesive feel.
For a minimal look head to toe, New York-based stylist, Rebecca Dennett (see her editorial styling in Elle, Allure, Porter, and Vogue Mexico and commercial styling for Mark Cross, Paravel, and Bobbi Brown) suggests two-piece sets with clean lines paired back to natural-colored accessories for a relaxed summer vibe. "If in a city, I recommend styling a two-piece set with a woven summer loafer," she tells TZR. "Outside of the city, I would pair this type of look with a neutral, open-toed sandal."
How to Wear A Two-Piece Set: Lean Into Logos
"Regardless of your signature style, you can't beat the ease of multiple-piece clothing sets," KJ Moody, a celebrity stylist who works with Beyoncé and Kelly Rowland, tells TZR. "Sets have been around since the '50s, but bringing them back to the forefront almost 70 years later is the simple silhouettes [like] crop tops with high waisted leggings and oversized shirts with shorts. These pieces are being designed with modern, up-to-date prints and patterns."
As '90s trends continue to trend this summer, Moody recommends a two-piece set in a logo print for a nostalgic, streetwear-inspired look, like sets from Burberry, which feature a modernized version of the label's iconic check (stemming from a collaboration with Russian designer, Gosha Rubchinskiy in 2018). "Rubchinskiy took the classic print and gave it a '90s streetwear kick, which Burberry then carried into following seasons with sets of tracksuits, shirt-and-shorts combos, outerwear, and bags in the same print," Moody tells TZR. When styling a logo print set like this, the stylist suggests white socks and Air Force 1 sneakers, a Jacquemus mini bag, and a statement bracelet.
How to Wear A Two-Piece Set: Try Summer Tailoring
For a tailored look, Medley recommends a shorts suit set — her favorites are from Bottega Veneta, Acne Studios, and The Frankie Shop. "You can opt to wear your Bermuda shorts with either a cropped blazer or an oversized one, depending on the set," she tells TZR. "If we were back in full-time business, I would definitely be rocking a short suit for the office." For a sustainable approach to this look, Medley suggests upcycling an old suit from your closet and cutting the pants into a Bermuda length.
Dennet champions the look of a blouse-and-shorts set for a more casual take on summer tailoring. "I would wear this super-cute set into the city to a meeting," she tells TZR. "It's relaxed but chic and airy for the summer."
How to Wear A Two-Piece Set: Keep Things Loose
In the heat, loose silhouettes are par for the course. Moody recommends capitalizing on this via an oversized two-piece set for both comfort and directional style. "Issey Miyake is known for his oversized, comfortable silhouettes and pleated sets — they're simple and easy pieces that pair perfectly for casual comfort," he tells TZR. "These silhouettes are great for combining coordinating prints, patterns, colors, textures, and detailing, so you feel well put together."
Whether you opt for a shirt with cropped trousers or a tank top and skirt, Moody says a breezy set is stylish for the day and evening. His suggested accessories include mules like a buzzy pair from Bottega Veneta and a crossbody bag during the day. At night, he suggests swapping for a smaller bag with bold jewelry.
How to Wear A Two-Piece Set: Double Up On Denim
In lieu of a matching set, Medley recommends doubling up on denim for a similar effect. What's more, this look is easily achievable with pieces you already have in your closet — a great money-saving hack if you're craving a new two-piece outfit without spending.
"I often match my Levi's blue-wash denim jacket with a pair of vintage kick-flare cropped jeans," she tells TZR. "It's a really good look with a chunky boot. I have a tan suede '70s heeled platform I usually wear with this combo." In the warm weather, a platform sandal is a heat-proof alternative as are cut-off denim shorts. For a designer splurge, Medley likes new-season platforms by Saint Laurent. "They scream '70s and give off the perfect modern-retro look."
How to Wear A Two-Piece Set: Shop Under-The-Radar Brands
A style tactic Madison routinely employs for a standout two-piece set outfit is shopping from under-the-radar brands. "NorBlack NorWhite is an amazing brand founded by two women that use traditional Bandhani tie-dye and print techniques," she tells TZR. "They've developed fresh ways of re-interpreting these traditional skills. Each piece is hand made in Delhi and made to order with love."
Another of Madison's favorites is Hanifa, a contemporary brand founded by Anifa Mvuemba, which offers sets in bright colors and unique silhouettes in sizes 0 to 20. "As a black woman with a non-sample size body, she saw the opportunity to design bold and sexy clothing for women to celebrate their bodies, focusing on strong silhouettes that accentuate curves and colors that make women of color glow," Madison tells TZR.
New York-based designer Autumn Adeigbo is another under-the-radar brand with boldly stylish sets. Ethically-made offerings range from peplum tops and trousers to high-neck tanks and skirts. To wit, Adeigbo's Nigerian heritage shines through by way of vibrant colors and splashy patterns.
How to Wear A Two-Piece Set: Loungewear + Elevated Accessories
When in a loungewear mindset, matching sets are choice for Medley, especially cozy pairings from Les Tien. "My loungewear always has to match, so Les Tien is my go-to for a lounge tracksuit." To keep things chic and trendy at once, the stylist adds flip-flop sandals from The Row for instant style.
How to Wear A Two-Piece Set: Seek Out Unique Details
Dennett says sets with unique details make putting together an outfit that much easier. "Cushnie does great coordinating sets, that are very simple, but with design details to keep it cool and fresh for an edge." When accessorizing, she says to keep it simple, but with a personal twist. "A statement earring adds punch, and when mixed with delicate personal pieces, the overall effect reads subtle."
How to Wear A Two-Piece Set: Try A Whimsical Print
"Marine Serre is known for her moon print and has firmly positioned her designs in the whimsical futurism athletic arena," Moody tells TZR. The stylist likes Serre's long-sleeve shirt and high-waisted legging set — which Beyoncé has worn — paired with an oversized jacket and pump. "It's eye-catching for a date or girls night out." Whether dressed up or down, Moody encourages accessory experimentation with this type of set, too. An oversized blazer teamed with a puffy bag, and all-white sneakers will look sporty, but with an edge, says the stylist.
How to Wear A Two-Piece Set: Maximize The Versatility
Two-piece sets are popular for feeling effortless, but Dennett likes them most for their versatility. "It's not a dress, so you don't feel like you're going to look too feminine, and there are so many options out there to do a two-piece set in different ways," she tells TZR. Her biggest tip: find a set that you can easily mix-and-match with various pieces in your wardrobe.
"I love printed sets like from Paco Rabanne for summer. You can wear them together or separate throughout the season for a range of looks from casual to polished," Dennett says. "A printed top is great with denim shorts and lace-up sandals when going casual. I'd also wear the printed skirt with a simple white tank and mules for a meeting and then straight to dinner."