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How to Wear Black and Brown Together With Accessories

by Jennifer Blair, studioD
German actress Bettina Zimmermann makes her outfit feel intentional by pairing a black dress with a cognac belt, bag and boots.

German actress Bettina Zimmermann makes her outfit feel intentional by pairing a black dress with a cognac belt, bag and boots.

Old-fashioned style rules can definitely put a damper on your creativity; besides the "no white after Labor Day" rule, it's been said that it's taboo to mix black and brown. But contrary to well-held opinion, pairing black and brown can give you a chic, modern look that is very much a fashion do. The key is mixing clothing and accessories in a way that feels deliberate. With a little know-how, you can maximize your outfit's style and avoid the appearance of a fashion don't.

Create High Contrast

If you pair a black sweater with a dark espresso-brown scarf, the colors are so similar that it can seem like you mistakenly mismatched pieces. To make your brown and black outfit look planned, go for high contrast between the colors. Instead of a deep brown, opt for warmer or lighter shades. Pair a black sweater dress with cognac leather boots and a matching belt, or loop a black scarf over a medium brown V-neck sweater to make the difference in colors obvious.

Wear Multiple Pieces

Wearing just one item in your accent shade -- think a black shirt dress, handbag and belt with brown heels -- can come across as a fashion blunder. However, if you add other brown accessories to your outfit, the look has a deliberate, stylish feel. Wear a black turtleneck and skinny jeans with knee high brown boots and a matching belt, or pair a caramel shift dress with a black cardigan and black pumps for a chic, elegant look.

Go Two-Toned

If you’re still a little nervous about wearing black and brown together, find two-tone accessories that feature both colors to tie your ensemble together. Wear a black sheath dress with a brown leather jacket and black and brown tortoiseshell pumps for a look that feels stylishly coordinated. You can also don a brown suit with black knee-high boots and a black and brown animal-print scarf so your outfit feels unified. Make your light brown wrap dress and black pumps look like they belong together by adding a statement necklace that features a combo of black and brown beads.

Work in Other Colors

Take the heat off the black and brown elements in your outfit by working other colors into your look. Choosing a patterned item that features black, brown and other shades is the easiest and most seamless way to go. For example, pair a black, brown and purple floral-print blouse with black trousers and heels and top with a brown leather jacket for a balanced look. Or, add a black, brown, white and turquoise geometric-pattern scarf to a black shift dress and brown cardigan to create a cohesive ensemble.

About the Author

Based in New York City, Jennifer Blair has been covering all things home and garden since 2001. Her writing has appeared on BobVila.com, World Lifestyle, and House Logic. Blair holds a Bachelor of Arts in Writing Seminars from the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.

Photo Credits

  • Andreas Rentz/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images