Can You Pull Off the Brown-With-Black Style "Faux Pas"?

News flash: Fashion rules are meant to be broken. Think about it. When was the last time you questioned seeing someone cool wearing socks with sandals, dresses over jeans, or a mix of bold prints? It’s practically become the norm to embrace traditionally “ugly” styles in favor of achieving a forward look. Clashing colors arguably have the highest misconception about being a stylistic “don’t,” but today we’re investigating the combination of black with brown, in particular, with the hopes of reversing whatever “rule” dictates against it. Whether they’re wearing brown shoes with black pants or carrying brown accessories with a black base, the following women exemplify what you can actually do when it comes to mixing the two neutrals.


(Image credit: @ada_oguntodu)

Black shoes with brown pants? This look proves it does more than just “break rules.” Black patent leather boots look so cool and forward with trousers in a rich shade of amber.


(Image credit: Style Du Monde)

In varying shades of neutral tones, this look is anything but that: neutral. Her black midi skirt pairs nicely with of-the-moment slouchy boots and her accessories are seriously covetable.


(Image credit: @itsmekellieb)

For those who consistently prefer a black color scheme over brown tones in any given outfit, try out a leopard-print piece that mixes the two in the most classic way and, quite honestly, goes with just about anything.


(Image credit: Style du Monde)

Tartan plaid is another go-to print that mixes brown with black effortlessly. We love how her black boots and white top equally pick up colors from her printed skirt.


(Image credit: @nnennaechem)

Let us guess: You have a seemingly endless array of black boots in your wardrobe and probably a brown coat or two. Take notes from this chic look and mix in a few solid colors via a sweater or a bag to break up the neutrals.


(Image credit: The Style Stalker)

Try mixing darker athleisure pieces with flirtier ones, like a floral dress, white ankle boots, and a top-handle bag.


(Image credit: The Style Stalker)

For something subtler, try the sleeker look of a dark brown bag with a black skirt.


(Image credit: Style du Monde)

A smaller animal print in coat form feels flirty.


(Image credit: The Style Stalker)

Black leather accessories and shoes ground this outfit of simple warm tones and cozy textures.


(Image credit: The Style Stalker)

While we're not sure how we'd pull off black pants and brown shoes, we're certain a look like this, which inverts the color combo, is a winner.


(Image credit: The Style Stalker)

In theory, we shouldn't like this combination of black boots and a brown bag as much as we do. I guess some things are better left out of practice.


(Image credit: Style du Monde)

Give a brown suit an easygoing feel with black flats and a black T-shirt.


(Image credit: Style du Monde)

If there's anything we've learned, it's that black shoes and bags are the perfect complements to a warm-toned outfit.

Senior Editor

Anna is an editor on the fashion team at Who What Wear and has been at the company for over five years, having begun her career in the Los Angeles office before relocating to New York, where she's currently based. Having always been passionate about pursuing a career in fashion, she built up her experience interning at the likes of Michael Kors, A.L.C., and College Fashionista before joining the team as a post-graduate assistant editor. Anna has penned a number of interviews with Who What Wear's cover stars over the years, including A-listers Megan Fox, Issa Rae, and Emma Chamberlain. She's earned a reputation for scouting new and emerging brands from across the globe and championing them to our audience of millions. While fashion is her main wheelhouse, Anna led the launch of WWW Travels last year, a new lifestyle vertical that highlights all things travel through a fashion-person lens. She is passionate about shopping vintage, whether it be at a favorite local outpost or an on-the-road discovery, and has amassed a wardrobe full of unique finds. When she's not writing, you can find her shooting street imagery on her film camera, attempting to learn a fourth or fifth language, or planning her next trip across the globe.