How To Wear Brown: When it comes to clothing, the name grey is earthy. Brown boots, all right. A belt, of course. But traditionally anything else of this color has been discarded as unwanted and unpleasant. They say brown is ugly. It brings up images of everything regrettable about 1970s style.
That hasn’t stopped the world’s best designers from getting their hands on anything in recent seasons. Now brown is inevitable. it’s everywhere. And having seen its reincarnation firsthand, it’s actually got a lot to cover.
Brown is warm and surprisingly attractive. It also matches well with a wide range of colours and currently blends well with other trends in men’s clothing, especially textured clothing, and mid-century style.
The point is how to wear brown. For all its plus points, it’s extremely difficult to get it right without looking like you’ve just stepped into a time portal straight from the set of Starsky and Hutch. But it can be done. This way.
How to style brown
Pulling off this divisive hue in a way that doesn’t look like you’ve started taking style cues from your high-school geography teacher depends on a number of factors. In particular, it takes knowledge to choose the right colours, know what garments they work with, and how to pair them with different hues.
“Despite being banished from the fashion scene for decades, it’s hard not to wear grey,” says celebrity stylist Harriet Byzok. “There are so many different shades of grey that you can easily find something to match in your wardrobe.”
From chocolate to grain colours, all of those colours mean that tonal outfits work well. “Tonal dresses are a great way to look fashionable without trying too hard,” says Byzok. “Try wearing a dark, chocolate-coloured suit with a light shirt and brown shoes. Or, if tailoring isn’t your forte, try a dark brown pair of slim-fit chinos with a camel coat and a lighter shade of knitwear.
Byzok also stresses the importance of using a variety of textures. “Even something as simple as adding suede shoes to the mix can work wonders. I actually think that there are certain fabrics that really work better in grey. For example, suede, leather and corduroy.”
How To Wear Brown: The right shade of brown for your skin tone
Are you guilty of listening to one earful of your fair-complexioned friends lamenting about being washed out white and beige? Well, it is finally your turn to be colour conscious. If you’re dark brown or have a darker complexion and choose the wrong shade of brown, from a distance you’ll look semi-naked at best, and in a full birthday suit at worst.
Fortunately, avoiding a fake flasher situation is easy. Simply check the colour of the item against your skin tone: Hold the garment up against your arm to see if it’s significantly lighter or darker than your skin tone. If it isn’t, stick it back on the hanger and start again using these nine no-fail brown clothes as your starting point.
How To Wear Brown: Brown coat
Many men have a collection of outerwear that consists only of navy, black and grey. Don’t get us wrong, they’re great, but ignoring an abundance of other colours is an unforgivable style offence in our book. We love camel coats as much as the next outerwear craze, but if you want to take your outerwear to the next level, don’t overlook brown.
“Brown is a very classic masculine colour,” says Delphine Ninus, creative director at Belstaff, on her CV. “It can look appraised and attractive at the same time.” When it gets cold, a grey oversized coat is your security blanket. Avoid wearing anything too tailored and look for bulging, rounded shoulders. Be tactful with your clothes too. Shearling, wool and rich wool all look great in brown.
The brown winter coat is also extremely versatile. Wearing a cream crew neck knit and jeans, you’re ready for the weekend; Donning a grey suit atop a grey suit for work, showcases Richard Gere going strong in American gigolo vibes, which is a life goal as far as we’re concerned.
How To Wear Brown: Brown suit
It’s no coincidence that Brown is enjoying a revival at the same time that 1970s style is facing a second setback. And this means that when it comes to the brown suit, the internet is your go-to. Brown tailoring on paper may not be right for a lot of people, but trust us (or Ryan Gosling – a definite fan), you can swipe right for this season’s handsome suits in chocolate, caramel, and tan hues. Can
As always with tailoring, you have to consider the cut (take it to the tailor), but the shade is equally important. If you want to go all out with a suit, a dark grey suit will do the trick – and it’s not a sudden fad either. “Brown has always been a classic choice in menswear tailoring,” says menswear designer Danny Ching, who has worked with companies such as Aquascutum, Hardee Amies, and Dunhill. “With new approaches to styling and tailoring, it has re-emerged among the countless grey and navy suits that men constantly wear to work, social events and weddings.” Timeless not too much yet? That men’s dress is gold.
Especially since it’s hard to go wrong with a brown stitch. “Brown is a rich, versatile colour that helps to enhance and enrich the contrasting colours it’s paired with,” says Ching. “Given its neutral base, it can be styled with virtually any colour, though it works especially well with shades of blue and green.” Also, try dark neutrals including tonal tans and blacks. And because brown tends to be a bit more casual, it works well with knitwear when you want to dress down your suit.
How To Wear Brown: Brown trousers
In the UK, you’ll often hear something particularly sinister called a “brown trouser moment”. However, you don’t have to take your first skydive or attempt to watch The Exorcist in order to pair up. In fact, brown bottoms are a solid everyday alternative to jeans or more traditional navy or beige chinos. The secret to getting it right is how you style them.
“From nutmeg to tobacco, brown trousers are the new black trousers,” says Richard Biddull, a male model and influencer who has worked for companies such as Drake, Ted Baker and Edward Sexton. “Though a change in your wardrobe requires a subtle eye: I think brown matches best. Pair your trousers with an upper half item similar in tone, texture or pattern to create a rich, luxurious look.
However, you need to add a few hits of contrast to avoid looking like a cosplay Jedi Knight. “Adding an element of off-white, such as a shirt worn under knits or a pair of white trainers, will help break up the colour block,” says Bidul. If it’s purely tonal, it’s a whole lot easier.
How To Wear Brown: Brown sweater
Brown knitwear is very disliked. We got it. When done poorly, it can look like you’ve raided a box of lost possessions or remind you of the oatmeal cardigan you suspect your grandfather never washed. Good thing, though, it’s suave and very on-trend this season.
“Brown is the perfect colour for autumn and winter because it gives a hint of what’s happening outside,” says stylist Phil Tarling, who dresses like Tom Hardy. Try pairing a rust-coloured sweater with mid-wash denim and desert boots. Or even camel would look great with black jeans and a layered white T-shirt. The main thing is to make sure that if you are going to match it with black, then the shade of brown should not be too dark.
Brown knitwear will not only match well with the rest of your wardrobe—it can even become a little more vibrant with the right treatment. “If you’re looking for a more trend-based way to wear brown knitwear, take a leaf from Mother Nature and wear two of this season’s most important colours in one outfit,” says Tarling.
How To Wear Brown: Brown shirt
A solid selection of shirts is the foundation upon which the rest of your wardrobe can be built. With this in mind, they should not only fit well and be of good quality but should also be varied.
A brown shirt is a great addition because it can work in so many different ways. Firstly, it can be worn on its own, buttoned up and teamed with smart trousers and boots or jeans and trainers. Secondly, it can be worn as an open-light top layer over a plain t-shirt for a casual look. Third, it can be worn as an extra layer under your winter coat and over a roll neck. And last but not least, as part of a tonal outfit.
To get the perfect tonal look, try pairing a chocolate-coloured shirt with a camel overshirt, you can contrast it with a pair of off-white trousers while tying it together with some black Chelsea boots. Can
How To Wear Brown: Brown blazer
When choosing a new blazer, your favourite colours will probably look something like this: black, navy, grey or, if you’re feeling really paranoid, a little beige. However, by rejecting grey, you deprive yourself of the opportunity to start working on a new level of carelessness. The brown stitching radiates an aura of casual cool that the usual suspects will never be able to replicate.
For a fresh, autumnal spin on smart casual, try pairing a brown blazer with a tonal roll neck and matching the two with a pair of white or off-white trousers. Then you can tie it all together with a pair of premium white sneakers.
As we said, brown will always look good as part of a tonal outfit. However, brown blazers (and tailoring in general) also work very well with denim and chambray. A brown blazer, chambray shirt, tonal blue tie and navy trousers are a definite showstopper.
How To Wear Brown: Brown shoes
Following the NSFW content, we’re quietly convinced that “how to wear brown shoes” tops Google’s most searched terms. Although things will vary a bit with each season, there are some hard and fast rules that you would do well to remember.
“The simple brown shoe can be a tricky shoe to have in your collection,” says Paul Higgins, stylist for the Rees brand, who is always the second choice after the staple black derby or brogue. “Fear not though, wearing your brown shoes is as simple as pairing them with a navy or pinstripe suit, which is a sleek, timeless combination.”
However, if you’re all about us #menwearwear, it’s time to think about some grey skies. Higgins recommends doubling up with your greys to give things a more trend-based feel. “Innovate some classic tan shoes by pairing them with light brown stitching. From high-end designers like Gucci and Camoshita to high-street giants Zara and Massimo Dutti, it’s surprisingly easy to pull off a tonal brown look — just make sure your brown shoe is a shade lighter or darker than your suit.
How To Wear Brown: Brown tie
Brown may not be the most common colour when it comes to neckties, but once you see how great it can look, it’s hard to understand why. Wearing a brown tie is a great way to make a style statement without being too fussy. This lets people know that you’re not afraid to experiment with your wardrobe, but also know where to draw the line at keeping things tasteful.
At first thought, it’s hard to imagine what might work with a brown tie, but really, the options abound. Brown matches well with blue, so wearing it with a navy or light blue shirt or tailcoat (or both) is always a good option. For a more winter-friendly option, choose a knit tie and wear it with a crisp white shirt. You can then build on the theme of texture by wearing it with a thick wool suit. Include a pattern for bonus points.
Remember, relationships aren’t just for the office. To make things a little more casual, you can ditch the blazer and go for a more casual jacket. Try something like a smart bomber jacket for the best results.