The Complete Brown Clothing and Matching Guide.
You found the perfect brown piece to craft an outfit around. It’s the ideal jacket, grosgrain belt, handbag (or manbag), ultimate pair of shoes or cheeky suspenders. Now what color matches with brown and how can you turn those key pieces into a great outfit? It’s not the most common question I get as a stylist, but it ranks in the top ten for sure. So here is a fool proof guide to matching with the color brown for men and women, and the science behind it.
Being a warm color, it automatically pairs well with other colors and shades in the warm family. But seeing as how you are decorating your body and NOT a futon… you may not want to wear brown with all the warm colors. Let’s face it, brown and hot pink may look great in a bedroom set… but wearing them together won’t always look good or appropriate to the season. So for the sake of making this easier to navigate, I’ll break the article down by seasons as seen through the eyes of the fashion world, Spring and Fall.
Matching Brown in Spring
Brown goes perfectly with warm colors like yellow, Orange and red but for Spring you may find yourself looking like a tree with changing leaves and end up looking a little out of season. For Spring stick to matching your brown with cooler tones like dark rich greens, blues and deep earthy purples.
A Quick Note about Green’s and Purples:
Green and purple are hybrids meaning they are both green and purple or CAN BE both. Typically, depending on the shade a green or purple color will fall more into the cool colors or the warm colors but not both. For example a lavender which is a lighter purple will fall into the warm colors whereas an eggplant, which has more blue, will be a cool color.
For the Men:
A perfect outfit would be a supple brown suede bag, paired with a white button-down, cream cardigan, slim navy chinos, a belt in a similar color and ivory Chuck Taylor’s.
For the ladies:
A photo worthy outfit would be a brown suede tote against a cream sundress, ice blue skinny belt and matching sling-backs with a mint green floppy hat. The colors may put you out of your comfort zone but in reality you’d be Vogue ready and cute as a button.
When I described the men’s look I placed Navy with Brown which puts a lot of people off. Truth is those two colors are like peas in a pod. Not only are they basically complimentary colors (opposite on the color wheel), they nearly ALWAYS match. A soft navy works wonders with a slick polished patent brown, or a light tobacco color. Also keep in mind the outfits I chose always had a base color to ground your looks. It’s not 100% necessary but it will keep you from sweating the small stuff and worrying about matching every color against every other color.
Matching Brown in Fall
Fall is quite the opposite in both weather and style, therefore borrowing colors from the warmer portion of the color wheel helps to keep you relevant to the season and looking hug-able. An outfit with analogous colors (colors close to each other on the color wheel) looks great in Fall.
Brown jacket and brogues with orange pants and a burnt orange tee will look intensely welcoming and warm regardless of the weather around you.
A brown scarf against a mustard yellow blouse paired with a camel colored skirt will say I embrace the season and look good doing it!
The only other thing I caution you with is mixing within the brown family. A caramel and a butterscotch will give you a toothache. A dark oak and cherry wood will leave your audience board. And a chocolate with cocoa will be delicious… but shitty. So don’t go dabbling in the dark arts and end up looking like Gandalf the brown!
Last but not least, remember to never mix brown with black… unless you’re a pro. But mixing brown and black is a whole different story. And that story is coming soon… probably next week so sign up for my newsletter and stay tuned!