The notion of a “soft life” is one of the most heavily discussed topics on my social media feeds at the moment, but it’s not always clear how exactly to achieve that lifestyle. While we may not have all the answers, we can assure you that being bogged down with deciding what to wear every day won’t add to a life of leisure. This is where the matching set comes in. “It’s a quick and easy outfit that you don't have to think about too hard. You know it goes together [and] it’s super minimal,” says fashion and beauty expert Kahlana Barfield, regarding her deep love of two-piece sets.
Whether you opt for an ultracasual shirt-and-shorts combo perfect for running to the store or a goddess-like co-ord for your next night out, there’s a matching set that’ll meet you where you are.
And as the summer months quickly approach, we’re declaring that opting for effortless matching outfits will surely get you that much closer to living your best life.
The Frankie Shop Memphis Fleece Set
Picture this: You’re running out to drop off your kid/walk your dog/water your plants/grab coffee, or any other everyday task that comes up, and you have no clue what to put on. We truly appreciate this set not only for its sleek design and plush fabric but also for the fact that you can step out in it without looking like a disheveled mess. What’s more, is that you can even pop on a pair of heels to elevate this otherwise-sporty look, and we think that makes it a must-have for every closet.
Price at time of publish: $139
Le Jean Ella Waistcoat Vest
If your Canadian tuxedo is ready for retirement, this two-piece set will definitely up your game. The cropped V-neck waistcoat is not only gorgeous when paired with the matching wide-legged trousers, but it can also be worn with countless other outfits, making it worth the buy. We’d pair the set with minimal gold jewelry for a less-is-more approach.
Buy the trousers here: LE JEAN Jude Trousers
Price at time of publish: $260, $278
Stars Above Women's 100% Cotton Gauze Top
If you’ve yet to master the art of leaving Target without spending $200, you may want to keep scrolling because this two-piece lounge set won’t help your case. Not only is it incredibly light and airy, but it’s also 100% cotton and comes in four colors for maximum versatility. The pull-on drawstring shorts and button-down top make for easy wear, and we can just see ourselves curled up in this with a good book and an iced cappuccino. Target wins again.
Buy the shorts here: Stars Above Women's Cotton Gauze Shorts
Price at time of publish: $17, $15
AUTOMET Women’s Summer 2 Piece set
It really doesn’t get much easier than this two-piece set that’s ready and willing to be your go-to look this summer. While it is a perfect throw-on set, the round-neck crop top and high-waisted shorts with an elastic waistband give it a polished look that you’ll be quite proud to be caught out and about in. Pair this with basic white or cream sneakers to complete the outfit.
Price at time of publish: $29
Best Plus Size
Eloquii Tie Front Easy Blouse
Calling all curvy girls who are making plans now for a much-deserved vacation. We found the tropical set that deserves a spot in your carry-on. Vibrant yellow is the initial draw, but the cropped top, eye-catching color, and bold design are its real claim to fame. Go for white, cream, or even raffia shoes for a fun look.
Buy the shorts here: Eloquii Printed Coverup Swing Shorts
Price at time of publish: $65, $80
Best Plus-Size, Runner Up
Asos Design Curve oversized natural beach in white set
Your summer body deserves this ultra-chic, beach-side-ready two-piece set that’ll hang loosely on your curves and deliver an effortless yet pulled-together look. All you’ll need to complete this set is an eye-catching swimsuit, easy slide-on sandals, and a raffia bag to hold all of your essentials. Also available in sizes 0-14, this set allows you to focus on fun without sacrificing style.
Price at time of publish: $59
Reformation Cleo Linen Two Piece
When it comes to your hard-earned money, purchasing pieces that will last is key, and we think it’s safe to say that this stunning linen set will never go out of style. Featuring a relaxed fit crop top and wide-leg pants with a streamlined high waist, this set will be the gift that keeps on giving. From brunch to the museum to a solo shopping trip, you’ll be ready for pretty much anything. Go for black sandals with wide bands and a cute shoulder bag to keep the effortlessly stylish look going.
Price at time of publish: $248
Cult Gaia Mala Top
Cult Gaia is a fashion lover's fever dream, and this set is a perfect example of what makes this brand so delightful. This set features the plissé effect, which has been popular for two summers now, and this accordion-style top has become a staple of the brand’s, but we love it all the same. Another look that’s unlikely to go out of style, we love the vibrant sangria hue and the decadent satin material. You can opt for a pink bag or shoes for a monochrome moment, and gold jewelry will really make this pop.
Pants: Cult Gaia Stacie Pant
Price at time of publish: $398, $358
Best Button-Up Set
Ronny Kobo Maja Top
The button-up–and–boxer short combo has had the fashion set’s attention for at least two seasons now, and it makes so much sense that we really don’t see it losing steam anytime soon. It’s a clean, cool look that can also give off an air of seduction. The curved hem on this top and ultra-long sleeves give it a softer touch that helps it easily stand out from other options like it. This is yet another set that would work really well with sneakers or heels.
Buy the shorts here: Ronny Kobo Jaymme Shorts
Price at time of publish: $248, $178
Farm Rio Multi Circles Crochet Vest
Loosen up a little and have some fun with this colorful crochet set. Farm Rio is known for its lively, animated style that jumps off the page, and this set is no exception. The floral multicolored print is endearing, to say the least, and the round-neck sweater vest paired with drawstring shorts make it an effortlessly put-together outfit. This is an option that would be great with ultra-chic espadrilles and fun gold jewelry.
Buy the shorts here: FARM Rio Multi Circles Crochet Shorts
Price at time of publish: $270, $310
Best for Vacation
Free People Morningside Set
When it comes to vacation time, there’s nothing lovelier than throwing on an easy, carefree set to go explore your destination of choice. This set is perfect for a long walk on the beach or a fun day trip. Available in five different colors and featuring a cropped top with an elastic band and a skirt with a wide-smocked waistband, there’s really no better way to truly detach, turn your brain off, and take the guesswork out of getting dressed.
Price at time of publish: $78
H&M Top with Collar
This H&M set covers pretty much every base. Need to run a quick errand? You’re all good. Accidentally fell into one of those dazed and confused summer sleeps and woke up at 2:47 a.m.? You’ll be nice and cozy. It’s our humble opinion that every wardrobe needs a set that can drift from an indoor essential to an outdoor staple, and this is it. It also helps that the low V-neck and collar make it incredibly stylish. When it comes to styling, grab what’s closest to you and you’ll be all set.
Buy the shorts here: H&M Jersey Shorts
Price at time of publish: $19, $19
Zara Mixed Textured Knit Skirt
This knitted two-piece is simple yet gorgeous and perfect for sultry summer nights. From a candlelit dinner to a walk in the park, this co-ord is a lovely elevated basic. We love the muted blue hue, the sheer panel on the skirt, and the cropped top. We’d pair this with a raffia bag and sandals for a no-fuss ensemble that still looks like you tried.
Buy the knit top here: Zara Textured Knit Crop Top
Price at time of publish: $28, $48
Best for a Night Out
L'Academie Pixie Shirt
To step out in this number is to create a night to remember solely based on your striking look. The satin fabric and bell sleeves make it an automatic win for a dressier occasion, and the fringe on the hem of the skirt adds a bit of spice that practically begs for some time on the dance floor. Pair this with gold strappy heels or a different hue of green for a fun monochrome moment.
Buy the skirt here: L'Academie Stevie Mini Skirt
Price at time of publish: $198, $238
Best for Poolside
Superdown Tayla Maxi Skirt Set
There’s something about a good poolside two-piece that really lets the world know your sartorial prowess is top-notch. This open-knit design gives just the right amount of peekaboo, and the burnt orange color gives luxe vibes. We think this will look best with chunky gold earrings, flat nude sandals, and a raffia bag.
Price at time of publish: $92
Cala de la Cruz Virginia Linen Cropped Top
This is one of those sets that you buy, keep forever, and pass down to the next generation (who will love it just the same). It’s a “sign of the time” set that is bonafide proof that you have style. It’s just the right amount of kooky and chic, and we truly love it for that. Because it’s such a standout, you can pair it with minimal accessories and still have a notable look.
Buy the pants here: Cala de la Cruz Toya High-Rise Wide-Leg Linen Pants
Price at time of publish: $250, $350
What to Look for In a Matching Set
It’s important to have a clear idea of the role you want your two-piece to play in your wardrobe. A casual, throw-on set for small errands is a very different purchase from an investment that you hope to wear on special occasions. You can even opt for something that’s in-between. “I usually love a great silk matching set,” Barfield shares. “I love how the silk fabric adds a luxury feel to any look. Its equal parts effortless as well as sophisticated and cool.” With these factors in mind it’s worth it to think about what you need, set a budget that makes sense, and choose your matching sets based on that assessment. So if you’re on the search for a matching set for the summer that’ll make morning school drop-offs easier, opt for cool and casual pieces like our overall best pick, the Frankie Shop Memphis Fleece Set. However, if you’re planning a vacation, something like the L'Academie Pixie Shirt & Stevie Mini Skirt or the Free People Morningside Set may work better.
Design and Body Type
When it comes to the design or style of your matching set, the sky is truly the limit. Like any other clothing purchase, it’s best to consider your body type and lifestyle when deciding what matching set to opt for. For example, while oversize looks may be the latest trend, someone with a petite frame might find them overwhelming. In the same vein, sets with super short shorts, for example, might not be comfortable for taller bodies, so it’s key to pay attention to those details and adjust accordingly.
Why Trust Byrdie
Dominique Hobdy is a fashion, beauty, and commerce editor with over 10 years of experience writing and editing for major media brands. She holds a B.A. in Print/Online Journalism from Howard University. A good matching set is her go-to when she wants to take the guesswork out of getting dressed, and she owns several sets in various styles. For this article, she carefully surveyed the current market, taking into account current style trends as well as social trends to find the absolute best options for matching sets out there.