How to Mix Black & Brown in an Outfit

black and brown outfit — brown pants, black tank top, black sandals

I may have missed a fashion memo at some point because I’ve never been one to avoid wearing black and brown outfits. And actually, I think it’s one of the most flattering color combinations on any woman. But I understand the hesitation. Will they clash? Will they look boring?

I promise, when done right, the black and brown combo is chic and timeless. And you don’t need a fashion degree or an extensive wardrobe to give it a try. Here’s how to wear black and brown together.

black and brown outfit idea
how to style black and brown together

Outfit Details: Black Top, Brown Pants, Black Belt, Brown Bag, Black Shoes

How to Wear Black and Brown Together

Pairing black and brown might be considered a fashion faux pas to some, but just like white after Labor Day, fashion rules are meant to be broken! These colors can absolutely be paired together. Here are style tips to consider when wearing black and brown in an outfit.

Wear Pure Tones of Each Color

Brown and black can vary widely in tone, hue, and lightness, and not all go together. For example, deep, chocolatey hues, light luxurious camel, and reddish sienna are all shades of brown. With black, you’ll find everything from jet black to charcoal.

When styling black and brown together, try to work with clothes that are as close to true brown and black shades as possible.

Chocolate, walnut, and camel match black more easily than red- or orange- infused rust and cinnamon. An easy guideline for black is to avoid lightened up versions (charcoal, gray) and to watch out for blue undertones.

Try Light and Dark

One of my favorite ways to wear black and brown together is by pairing light brown with a dark black. That’s not to say that a rich chocolate brown can’t look good with black, but camel and deep black is a no-fail combination.

Three examples of this you’ve probably seen include a black sweater dress with camel knee high boots, a light brown belt over a black maxi, and khaki trousers with a black blouse.

Try an Anchor Piece

An anchor piece is an item that incorporates both colors (in this case, black and brown). It ties the color combo together and makes the palette look deliberate and cohesive.

The most obvious example of a black and brown anchor is anything leopard. Less obvious examples are tortoise sunglasses and a brown jacket with black buttons.

Add Interest

There are a million ways you can add interest to an outfit, and color is one of them. However, with black and brown, you’re working with two fairly mundane colors, so adding interest with another component is key.

I find texture, accessories, and layers to be the most accessible. A textured belt at the waist, a tortoise barrette, rattan earrings, a leather blazer, a neck scarf in a brown and black print are just a few ideas. You can also wear a bust down watch if you’re feeling fancy. Find out what is a bust down watch on The Watch Goat’s website. Then, you will be interested in iwc watches if you love Swiss watches.

Go Neutral

Many people would argue that these neutral colors feel more harmonious when they’re worn without a third color. That isn’t a hard and fast rule as you’ll see below, but it is a good starting point if you’re new to pairing black and brown.

Add Just One Color

If you’re not feeling head-to-toe neutrals, try adding in just one bright color in the form of an accessory. Many people would disagree with this advice because, admittedly, it’s hard to nail. 

As long as you’re not wearing a bright color and a printed black and brown anchor piece, it can work.

You’re looking for that diamond in the rough accessory in a brightly colored print containing brown or black. Examples of what could work include this scarf in beige and this scarf. These will add a pop without sacrificing cohesiveness.

Black and Brown Outfits

It was fun to look back at old photos and outfits with this color combo (all of which I would 100% still wear!). Here’s a little black and brown outfit inspiration to get your wheels turning.

Black and Brown Fall/Winter Outfits

Black and Brown Spring/Summer Outfits