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How to Wear Black and Brown Together

A user-friendly guide to combining two of our favorite neutrals—black and brown—to make 6 chic and polished outfits.

By Caitlin Abber

Let me ask you a question: When you think about wearing black and brown together, are you concerned about clashing? Do you tend to picture chocolate brown shoes throwing off a dark black dress, or a chunky black belt awkwardly holding up a pair of deep brown pants? Or do you think about all of the gorgeous outfit combos you can make with these complementary colors? Do you picture a sleek pair of black trousers and a soft black turtleneck with a chic camel jacket draped on top? What about a cheeky, many-hued leopard print cami as the unexpected base of a classic black suit

You see, just like with other sort-of-confusing color combinations (see: black and navy or head-to-toe white), when we think about brown and black, there’s a tendency to oversimplify and revert back to arbitrary rules, especially can’ts, don’ts, and shouldn’ts. But nobody has ever become a fashion icon by following all the rules! And when it comes to not wearing these two sympatico neutrals together, we’re not sure why this rule ever existed in the first place. 

Here are just a few of our favorite ways to combine black and brown and make them your own. 

As a Contrasting Pop

As with everything in life, balance is key when putting together a black and brown outfit. For a look that’s both soft and edgy, try pairing the slightly oversized, super-cozy Theo sweater in light maple with the sexy, vegan leather Whitney skirt and over-the-knee black Nina boots. The contrasting colors and textures pop against each other, letting each piece work as its own subtle statement piece.

Another option is to take an all-black, monochrome outfit, like the Axam T-shirt, the Curie pant, and the Lana boot, and break it up by popping on a caramel brown sweater, like the Athens half-zip jardigan in light bronze. (Note: This will make your sweater the star of the show, so choose your knitwear wisely.)

As a Geometric Pattern

We’re such big fans of black and brown together, we actually made a whole suit in a camel and black plaid—and it looks just as cool broken up as it does all together. The Shiloh pants, which are like if the Stella leggings and the Oshima pant had a baby, offer a bit of light-hearted fun when paired with a sophisticated black turtleneck and a pair of high-heeled booties.

Similarly, the Adele tank in an oak and black stripe creates dimension underneath the Anna jacket and tucked into the Harlem skirt. This is a look that draws the eye up, so definitely wear mascara that day.

Go for a Pop

While the Shiloh pants and matching O’Hara blazer are a full black and brown suit on their own, we also love to combine these two colors creatively with a DIY. A full camel suit, like the Mejia pant with the Bennett jacket, gains power from a high-neck top. Add intrigue the look by choosing accessories and shoes in a deeper brown.

The inverse of this look is the Cobble Hill skirt and Yiyan Blazer, both in black, with the Lisey cami in Sahara underneath. The multiple hues of brown in the cami’s Sahara print creates dimension and makes an otherwise simple black suit stand out from the rest.

Written By

Caitlin Abber

Caitlin Abber is the Brand Editor at M.M. LaFleur, and an award-winning writer and content creator. Over the last decade she has held senior editorial positions at MTV, Women's Health, Public Radio International, and Bustle, and has bylines at InStyle and OprahMag.com.

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