Thank you to ALL of you who answered the call for new Fashion Friday topics; I’ve got enough material to last two months, YAY!
This question came in a few weeks ago and is one I’ve confronted myself: What are matching guidelines? I was always taught not to wear black with brown, brown with gray, blue with black – but I see all of these things regularly and they (usually?) look good.
There are five basic neutrals (all of which you should have in your career wardrobe): ivory/white, gray (everything from dove to charcoal), black, navy, and brown (this is the messiest one to manage – from tan to taupe to chocolate).
Let’s tackle the easiest two first: gray and ivory. You can literally match any color, including any neutral, with these two neutrals. I’m particularly fond of the gray/black or gray/navy combo. It always reads super sophisticated. Also, most women look universally good in navy and yet, of all the neutrals, tend to have it in their closets the least. If you’ve wondered if you can mix neutrals with other neutrals, these two shades should put that worry to rest.
Are you dying over the gorgeous examples below that mix ALL these neutrals? This dove gray cardigan paired with a black belt, white button down and navy pencil skirt?!?! Then the buttoned up military inspired navy blouse with ivory pencil skirt and taupe accessories – mercy, it’s just perfection.
Next we’ll tackle black. I personally don’t love to pair navy with black, some folks do, because all too often the shades are so close that it just looks like you grabbed the wrong jacket when you were getting dressed in the dark. If it’s done intentionally in something like a cocktail dress (I’ve seen pretty pairings of midnight blue and black), then it’s easier to manage, but I don’t do it in separates.
My theory on black with other neutrals is contrast. If you can find a lighter shade neutral to pair your black piece with, so there’s a marked contrast between the shades, or even break it up with a bright color (like this green blouse breaking up the black jacket with taupe trouser), then that’s the best way to mix black with other neutrals.
Then we get to our pesky friend brown. Let me admit to a predisposition to dislike brown. I’ve never worn it much. Tan/khaki can come off bland and uninspired. Middle brown shades can read badly on an assortment of skin tones. Darker browns like cocoa are better but somehow hard to pull together in an outfit for me personally.
You see examples of way to mix browns and blacks above – I emphasized contrast. With this color, so much depends on the shade that works for you. It’s less important in bottoms, but it’s critical if you’re dressing your top half. Brown and black, in my humble opinion, is VERY shade dependent. If you’re pairing very dark brown with black you run into the same problem you do with navy. Yet I think taupe and navy or black combinations are incredibly sophisticated as are even lighter shades of brown paired with black.
But as these gorgeous ensembles illustrate, brown does work with virtually every other neutral if the shade is right (think this gorgeous caramel and navy dress, or using an animal print to bring a brown and black outfit together).
What say you? Sound off? How do you (or do you) pair neutrals?