We already know the impact of "wall scouting" when it comes to Instagram. An eye-catching background can do wonders (and reel in the double-taps) to a photo. But Michelle Satterlee, who's behind the account @dressedtomatch, takes her Instagram aesthetic up a notch by showcasing outfits as visual replicas of famous artworks. A few examples include two friends bedecked in yellow and black polka dots, blending in with a Yayoi Kusama installation; Satterlee's colorful checkered outfit that perfectly goes with an Ellsworth Kelly piece; and the pattern of a woman's dress that's parallel to the retrospective works of Eduardo Paolozzi.
"Everyone loves things that match or inherently blend into one another, it's very pleasing on the eye. I think that's what people are attracted to," says Satterlee over the phone from Sacramento where she runs an art gallery. "It brings a different level of attention to the art itself. I think it brings art off the wall. It makes it conversational and less intimidating."
The first time Satterlee's clothes coincidentally matched with a piece of art was in 2013. She bought a Diane von Furstenberg ombré dress — a last-minute purchase for an opening that same evening — dip-dyed in bright pink. When she showed up at the gallery, it was a memorable (and hilarious) moment for everyone. "I can't tell you how many people were obsessed with the idea that I somehow had coincidentally matched this piece," she says. "It was a really fun talking point."
From then on, Satterlee wore a similar-looking dress for that same artist's opening nights the following year and the year after that. By September 2015, she officially launched the Instagram account @dressedtomatch to document more of these serendipitous sartorial moments. She started gaining followers, currently nearing 8K, and her hashtag #dressedtomatch, where she finds photos to regram, is just under 2K posts.
"For me, it's a passion project that allows me to be creative," says Satterlee. "I don’t paint, but I have a degree in art history, and I know so much about art. I have a huge appreciation for it, so this is kind of like my method of making art."
Satterlee's process behind @dressedtomatch is quite selective in terms of seeking out and making matches. She upholds a certain look and high quality with her photos, and so does her audience. "There's an expectation that I'm going to put out really unique things and that's kind of the challenge for me and the fun of it," she says. Palette is number one for Satterlee: If something doesn't match color-wise, it's not going to match at all. Then comes the overall patterning of the garments and the content in the art piece: Do they mimic each other? Finally, there's posing for the photo. It's more than just a simple hand-on-hip situation: Satterlee aims to align herself to the piece in order to best represent the match.
As for keeping her collection of dresses (her favorite style of clothing, by the way) up to par with her artistic surroundings, Satterlee says she always keeps a stockpile of potential matches, from contemporary to historical artworks, in the back of her mind. "As I'm browsing, certain things will pop up to me that are reminiscent of specific pieces that I want to match," she says. "That's how I'm able to juggle and not just focus on one thing."
The stores Satterlee shops at run the gamut, but she prefers high-end retailers, like Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue, for their more artistically inspired designer pieces; Anthropologie is also a favorite. Overall, Satterlee prefers to have things that not everyone else is wearing. "Personally, I've been drawn to those kinds of pieces and that helps with the matches," she says. "They need to be unique."
Satterlee also maintains a blog alongside her Instagram, but she's quick to point out that she doesn't consider herself a blogger. And while she does reference where to buy her dresses via LikeToKnow.It, Satterlee doesn't rely on it as a source of monetization. "[My Instagram account] is definitely about creating an interesting image as opposed to selling 20 dresses," she says. For her, it's more about using her clothes to help people think about art in a different way. "There are artists that I admire and love," she says. "And to be able to make a match within their work is like forming a unique connection that you don't get from just admiring it."