How to pair brown and black and still look good

Fashion is full of clichés and faux pas. When I was younger, I always heard girls telling each other “black and brown gives me a frown.” Now at the time I just thought they were being stupid girls, but the other day I was out with a couple friends when one says to the other “That brown really doesn’t go with black, you know.”

While I believe it’s a friend’s duty to tell the other the truth, be it blunt or not, I also believe the best way to follow up with said truth is with a little education. So what kind of brown does go with black? Should the combination be avoided altogether? Of course not.

There are several ways to pull off black and brown worn together; much of it has to do with using touches of one as an accent (say your leather shoes and belt) while one of the colors dominates the look. The thing about accents, though, is they have to stand out against the dominant color. That means if the brown is too close to black, nothing is going to standout.

The secret to wearing black and brown is not pairing two colors that are already too similar. And what’s too similar to black? Dark brown.

Don’t try and pair dark black and brown. That’s it.

Instead, look for lighter shades of marrone. Reddish brown shoes (okay, oxblood is the term often used) look great with black pants. A light brown jacket can pair with your black shoes if you finish the ensemble with black pants. Tan slacks can also look great with black Italian shoes if you balance it out with a black belt. If you find an article of clothing that works accents of brown into black, go ahead and pair your favorite brown chukka boots or oxfords with your outfit. As long as you don’t go too dark with the brown and remember to make one color dominant and just let the other accentuate, you can’t really go wrong pairing black and brown.

But there is one more way to mess up the whole black-and-brown-pairing thing… For the love of god do not wear a black belt with brown shoes or vice versa. That’s just one unacceptable faux pas we can’t get behind.


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