How to Wear Brown Boots with Black Pants and Dresses

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.

How to Wear Brown Boots with Black Based Outfits: Brown Riding Boots with Black Leggings and a Tunic Sweater in a rich Jewel Tone

similar tunics // Hue Ultra Wide Waistband Leggings (LOVE!!! highly recommend) // Similar Frye riding boots // earrings // necklace // bracelet // ring // watch

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.

How to Wear Brown Boots with Black Based Outfits: Brown Riding Boots with Black Leggings, a Mustard Yellow Cardigan, and a Leopard Scarf

ponte pant options // similar boots // cardigan options // similar tank // scarf options

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.

How to Wear Brown Boots with Black Based Outfits: Brown Riding Boots with a Black Jersey Knit Dress and a Jean Jacket. Carry a cognac colored bag.

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.

How to Wear Brown Boots with Black Based Outfits: Light Brown Booties with Black Jeans, Beige Tee, and Leopard Scarf

Relaxed Slub U-Neck Tee/ Frame black skinny jeans // Similar Vince Camuto Peep-Toe Booties // Marc Jacobs crossbody // stretch bracelets //  Leopard Pattern Scarf options

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.

Thanksgiving Outfit Idea: Chambray Shirt and Leopard Scarf with Leggings and brown Over the Knee Boots

OTK boots // Hue leggings // similar chambray top // similar leopard scarf

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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28 Responses

  1. I really like the brown & black together. I read somewhere that it takes our brains a couple times to see a trend and get used to it—consider it normal if you will.
    But I think it’s so true—because the more we see it, the more I tend to like it (and think I need it–ha ha)!
    What great examples, Jo-Lynne!! The leopard addition is one of my faves!! Thanks for this!!

  2. The black/white striped dress you shared from Old Navy (which i purchased also) would look great with brown boots — in fact, I wore it last week….loved it.

  3. This post is cracking me up because I actually have an all black casual dress on with black leggings and caramel colored boots today! Last year I wore black boots with this outfit and not only did it look to heavy but it also looked dated. I’m a brown convert!

  4. Great post Jo-Lynne! I grew up in the era where everything had to match, shoes, handbag, jewelry, etc., so mixing some colors is very scary for me. I really like how the brown looks with the black though. The scarf from Nordstrom is beautiful. My big issue with scarves is that my neck sweats a good bit, even during the cold months, so after one wearing I’d have to launder the scarf, especially if it’s acrylic. I’ve learned to dress in such a way that the outfit will still look ok once I take the scarf off.

    Have a blessed Friday eve!

  5. I love black and brown together but never wear it. I definitely think it has to be a lighter brown like your boots and I am officially on the hunt for a pair. I’ve always tried it with dark brown booties and it wasn’t quite right– as you said, it didn’t look intentional. They are too close to black. Thanks so much for this post. I ordered the scarf. It’s on backorder but is shipping November 28.

  6. Thank you for all the tips for wearing brown boots with a black outfit. I know I will be copying these ideas and going out of my comfort zone.Our weather is starting to get cool enough for boots and I can’t wait to try this style our for myself. It really makes the outfit have a more interesting look.

  7. At age 61, I’ve grown up with all those fashion rules. I like the black and brown combo & have no problems mixing them. What I seem to have a problem with is the white jeans AFTER Labor Day! I like the look on the styles you have shown, but I still packed mine away at the end of September. I think I just got tired of them & wanted to wear some of my fall colored denims. Can’t wait to see what you & Cyndi have for us!

    1. I hear ya – I think one reason I don’t wear them more is b/c I do wear them so much in the summer months. You might want to pull them out after the holidays when everything is drab. White jeans look fabulous with pastels in the wintertime. 🙂

  8. Hey….still love your blog & can’t wait to read it every day (just after my devotion-of course!) Thanks for all your tips! I’m undecided on buying short black boots….would I mix them up with other colors or mainly wear with black?

    1. Hey Susie. I love my black booties. I do wear them with black jeans sometimes, when I want a monochromatic look. And I also like them with regular blue jeans when I wear jewel tones or dark colors on top. They also can look cute with dresses and skirts. I think they’re definitely still a wardrobe essential. I hope that helps!

  9. I have to remind myself not to leave the house matchy-matchy. I was raised to think it’s a good thing when you have colors in your top that match your shoes or pants, etc. Now I think it just dates me, but it has definitely been a hard habit to break. It’s actually somewhat a relief, because there’s just so much more potential for variety and interest in outfits. Incidentally I ordered the Sam Edelman pink flats and received them this week. I LOVE THEM. I have never found a flat that was absolutely comfortable. It feels like I’m not wearing shoes. And they’re so adorable. Now I’m going to try and get that scarf!

  10. This is an excellent post! I saw that question come through and am impressed at how quickly you pulled this together so cohesively. I was having the same question as the reader. Last week, I paired my brown boots with my black pants and rather haphazardly thew on a scarf that did exactly what you are saying. No wonder I got compliments at work! “Stumbling” on fashion is often what we do;)

  11. I think black and brown look great together, I mean isn’t that what is happening on a leopard’s coat? Who thought that up….hmmmm….heavenly Creator comes to mind. We could probably find a lot of outfit inspiration if we started looking at the created world. That might be a fun series to do! Ha, ha. All these looks are so great and I think you really helped your readers see how easily black and brown can be worn together. Thanks for sharing! – Amy

  12. Thanks! This was really helpful. I love black on black and cool colors. I’ve never liked brown very much, but I do have a few light brown accessories and a couple of pairs of brown shoes, so your post will help me to at least stick my toe into the trend (no pun intended). Thanks for your great work on this blog! I enjoy reading it. 🙂

  13. I’m a little late to this post, but thank you so much! I am packing for a trip and have been stressing about not packing too much but also having outfits that work. I have a great pair of brown boots that I can walk all day in – but lots of black too, so I was thinking of buying a second pair of boots in black. Now all I have to find is a couple of scarves to pull multiple colors together – much cheaper than new boots!!

  14. Late to the party here but wanted to say thanks for this article! I’m one of those people who is always nervous about trying anything even remotely against the usual so-called “rules” and now I’m ready to rock a black bodycon dress with brown boots this weekend. As an aside, you’re lovely!

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