Brown + Black: It’s Okay!

When I was younger, it was instilled in me that pairing black with brown was a big fashion faux pas. It was just something that you did not do. It was a fashion rule that ranked up there with “no white after Labor Day”, “no mixing gold and silver jewelry”, and “your shoes must always match your handbag”.

Because of that, I eradicated brown from my wardrobe. I owned no brown shoes, no brown tops or pants, no brown accessories, and nothing with patterns that had brown in them or mixed brown and black. Ok, fine. I owned one milk-chocolate colored bikini, and I hung onto a beautiful brown leather motorcycle style jacket because I couldn’t bear to part with it’s buttery-softness, perfectly worn in look, and lovely cut. But largely, I owned nothing that was brown, and spent years claiming that I just didn’t look good in it.

Then, something happened. I’m not quite sure when it was, or what, exactly. I have a slight feeling it started with that brown leather jacket, because I started wearing it again recently. Or maybe it was the increasing popularity of the nude pump, and the idea that “it’s a neutral and neutrals go with everything”, and, oh hey, brown is a neutral too! Or perhaps it was seeing other fashion-forward people mixing brown and black, and rules like “no white after Labor Day” going out the window. Or maybe it was a combination of all of that, which is really the most likely thing. But, bottom line? I feel like a switch was flipped and I’ve been mixing black and brown all my life.

Ok, slight exaggeration.

Anyway, recently I’ve found myself willing to buy brown shoes, belts and accessories, and wearing those brown items with my black-dominant wardrobe. In fact, as I sit here and write this, I’m wearing brown shoes with black skinny pants, and I’m not having a mental fit over it. It’s a miracle! No really, it is, because 3 years ago, I’d have spent all day obsessing over my horrid fashion faux pas, and might have even searched my trunk for a pair of non-brown shoes to change into. No joke!

If you’ve always thought brown with black was a faux pas, don’t worry; there is nothing to fear! Brown is, indeed, a neutral, which means that while it goes with everything, you have to be mindful of proper mixing. Try to avoid pairing really dark brown with black, and make sure that there’s contrast in your pairings, so it’s easy to tell where your black ends and your brown begins. Also, ease yourself into it. A leopard print bag or belt might be a good transition piece, because many leopard prints have black and brown in them, which makes them easier to wear with both. Accessories such as belts and jewelry are easier to purchase first and often cheaper too, which means it’s a little less scary money-wise to make that jump into mixing brown into your wardrobe.

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2 comments for “Brown + Black: It’s Okay!

  1. September 6, 2011 at 4:22 PM

    I’m glad to see you’ve had a change of heart. Black and brown can be friends.

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