Some of you have asked about how to wear brown boots with black pants and dresses.
I get it. Habits are hard to break, and with matters of fashion, it can be take some time to get used to a new look. No one wants to look like they’re trying too hard, so it’s easy to revert to familiar combinations rather than trying new things.
I grew up in the era when we always paired black pants and black dresses with black boots. Brown went with earth tones, and black went with black and grey. That’s just the way it was. We never questioned it.
A few years ago, I started noticing people wearing brown boots with black pants, skirts and dresses, and I sort of liked the look. Now I am much more likely to pair my brown boots with black based outfits. It adds interest, makes the look a bit more casual, and it’s a more modern look.
How to Wear Brown Boots with Black Based Outfits
My first tip for wearing brown boots with black based outfits is, JUST DO IT. You can throw on brown boots with black pants and about any color top and look just fine. See the outfit below. I wore a green tunic with black leggings. Black boots would be perfectly fine, but the brown boots add interest and break up the look.
Add another brown wardrobe piece or accessory to make it look intentional. This could be a scarf, a belt, a handbag, or even a piece of jewelry with brown leather in it. This picture is from a few years ago (hello, who needs some eye makeup???) but it’s a great example. This is when I was starting to experiment with wearing brown boots and black pants together. Before that, I would have definitely worn black riding boots with my black pants and called it a day.
This time I wore brown riding boots with black ponte skinny pants, and then I added a leopard scarf that has two shades of brown in it to repeat the brown and make it look intentional. Again, black boots would be fine with this outfit, and if that’s what you have, go for it. But if you have brown boots in your closet begging to be worn, this is an outfit formula to try.
Wear brown boots with a black dress. I feel like this is best done with a more casual outfit. This dress (old, from CAbi) is a jersey material, and the style is on the casual side as well, although it can go both ways. I added a jean jacket to seal the casual vibe, and then I repeated the brown in my handbag. I chose a clutch in a lighter shade of brown so the overall look wasn’t matchy-matchy, but the brown was repeated so it looked intentional.
Wear a variety of browns with your black piece. A few weeks ago, I styled black jeans with a beige tee and khaki colored booties. The outfit was inspired by a leopard scarf that incorporated all of those neutral tones.
Again, repeating the brown in another accessory helps the brown/black combo look intentional. Bonus points if the extra accessory has both black and brown in it.
One last thing. To be on the safe side, a lighter shade of brown will look more intentional. You want to be sure to have some contrast between the brown and the black. It may look like a mistake if the colors are too close together. This is why cognac and chestnut are so popular right now. They’re more of a mid-tone brown, so they don’t get confused with black. You can pair cognac with just about any neutral or color, and it will work.
My Frye boots shown above are fairly dark brown, but they’re not too dark to work well with black. Even better, though, are my chestnut brown over the knee boots. I like this contrast much better. More pictures in THIS POST.
If you’re concerned that your brown is too close to black, just wear a lighter brown somewhere else in your outfit. That’s the best way to make sure the combination looks intentional.
I hope this post helps unveil the mystery of pairing brown with black. Fashion is part art, part science, so it really does take some trial and error to figure out what works for each individual outfit. Don’t be afraid to try something new! It always feels a bit strange at first, but after you wear it once, you’ll feel more confident the next time.
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