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Fashion Challenge: Wear Black and Brown Together


Celebrities wearing black and brown together including Rihanna, Anne Hathaway, and Kate Moss
Photo Credit

Here at CF, we love to break the rules, especially when it comes to fashion. And we’re sure you’ve probably heard your mom, aunt, or stuffy friend repeat one of the most pervasive old rules, “never mix black and brown in an outfit.” So, in the spirit of fashion risk taking, this week’s challenge is to squash that dated fashion rule, and create a fabulous outfit containing both of these colors!

Breaking this “rule” is not new to celebrities, as seen in the photos above. So if you’re feeling on-edge about trying this look, let these examples calm your nerves. After all, if celebs like Rihanna, Anne Hathaway, and Kate Moss all break the “rules” and win fashion points, you certainly can, too!

Ready to rock this week’s challenge? Read on for ideas!

Tips and Tricks for Mixing Brown and Black

  • Remember that neutrals go with everything! I don’t know who decided that certain neutrals shouldn’t be mixed and matched. Neutrals, after all, go with every color, including each other.
  • Try a lighter shade of brown. It’s easiest to pull of a black and brown outfit when you utilize shades of camel, taupe, or nude. These create a nice contrast with the black.
  • Try it with leopard print. This classic print contains both black and brown, so building an outfit around it will be a cinch.
  • Wear black tights with brown boots. It’s an easy and practical way to tackle the challenge.
  • Chocolate brown and black is the combination that’s probably hardest to pull off, but you’ll look great as long as you wear it with confidence!

Outfit Inspiration

Outfit 1: Leather Jacket and Dress Combo

How to wear black and brown - outfit with a black dress and brown jacket
Jacket, Dress, Boots, Tights, Ring

A black fitted dress will look awesome with a camel-colored motorcycle jacket. Add interest with lace tights and Sherpa-lined boots. Finish with a foxy ring.

Outfit 2: Sweater and Boots

How to wear black and brown together - outfit with a black jacket and brown accessories
Sweater, Earrings, Boots, Belt, Jeans

A black sweater with brown accessories is an easy way to try this week’s challenge using items you probably already own. Don’t worry, the shades of brown don’t have to match each other — that’s another silly old fashion rule! Finish with some simple earrings.

Outfit 3: Aviator Jacket and Jeans

How to wear black and brown together - outfit with a brown jacket and black pants
Jacket, Jeans, Scarf, Boots, Beanie

This season, shearling aviator jackets are so hot! Don’t be afraid to pair a brown one with a pair of black jeans, especially a funky pair like these! Finish the look with boots, a beanie, and a warm scarf.

CF Reader Looks

Here are challenge outfits sent in by CF readers like you. If you want to see your look featured here, too, read the instructions below for sending in your outfit photos!

Caitlin – San Francisco, CA

Caitlin, a college fashionista from San Francisco

“I’m wearing a camel colored cardigan here, paired with a simple black skirt and a black ruffled tank.  To break up the black, I am wearing a brown belt and brown boots, too.  It’s hard to see in the picture, but I’m also wearing gold glitter tights to bring out some brown-ish tones.  Definitely will be wearing this color combo in the future!”

To see more of Caitlin’s fabulous style, check out her blog, A Case of Cait.

Took the Challenge? Send Us Your Photos!

Did you wear an outfit with brown and black pieces this week? Send your photos in at fashionchallenge AT along with your name, school, a description of what you’re wearing, and the URL of your blog if you have one. We’ll feature these pictures here to inspire other CF readers!!


Are you going to take the challenge, or do you already mix brown and black on a regular basis? Do you think this is a fashion rule we should follow? What other fashion rules do you follow, or you think can be broken? What challenges would you like to see in the future? Let us know with a comment!

Posted on on December 30, 2010 / Filed Under: Fashion Tips / Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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42 Responses to “Fashion Challenge: Wear Black and Brown Together”

  1. 1
    December 30th, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    Whoever invented that rule is completely ridiculous. Especially the one about wearing black, brown, and blue together. It can look good, folks!(: As proven by this article.

  2. 2
    December 30th, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    This is definitely the hardest rule for me to break. It has been ingrained in my mind since I was little!! However I really want to try it. Its torture worrying about not mixing the two!!

  3. 3
    December 30th, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    I am so into this fashion risk since I put gray and brown together. Since I got my black leather jacket I am so wearing brown with my most prized possession.

  4. 4
    December 30th, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    I’ve heard of this rule many times and it just tears me up into laughter. My mom has this silly rule that you should never wear white or light colors during winter :/

  5. 5
    December 30th, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    i AGREE whoever invented that rule is ridiculous.
    i’ve tried to tell my sister they’re neutrals so they go with anything and she’s just like, “no. black and brown should never go together.” *shaking my head* stubborn.

  6. 6
    December 30th, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    Love the last outfit! Great choices of accessories too! Well done!

  7. 7
    December 30th, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    Oh, please. What a silly rule!
    Everyone knows black goes with everything!
    I love tucking a black shirt into jeans with a brown/tan belt, boots or flats, and bag.
    Just the other day, I got a little riskier and carried a tan satchel while wearing a black leather jacket and tan moccasins.
    I liked the way they contrasted!

  8. 8
    December 30th, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    if there was a rule that was meant to be broken it’s this one. i do it every day. i love mixing neutrals all the time.

  9. 9
    December 30th, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    I definitely break this rule ALL the time. I don’t see why it ever was one- they look GREAT together. I even push it farther and wear grey and brown and black all together… :D.

  10. 10
    December 30th, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    I never even heard about this rule until I started watching What Not to Wear and they said it was an old-fashioned rule. So I’ve only ever known this as an acceptable thing to do. I love all of these outfits. Except Outfit #3 doesn’t have a shirt.

  11. 11
    December 30th, 2010 at 5:45 pm

    I agree that a great way to ease into it is by incorporating a leopard-print accessory, which has both colors…I’ve got a black and tan plaid scarf that I wear for the same purpose. I wish I found this post in high school when I was still taking silly fashion rules such as this one to heart!!

    Also, love those boots in the second outfit! The lighter caramel-y hue would probably be great transitioning into spring (I’m dreaming of sunshine already – too much snow up here!) :)

  12. 12
    December 30th, 2010 at 7:10 pm

    i’ve recently decided tO forget about this rule when I bought some brown leather boots yet most of my clothes are black. So far I love it. It feels very sophisticated. I like to wear by boots with a black turtleneck and a tweed-plaidish blazer. Looks great.

  13. 13
    December 30th, 2010 at 7:52 pm

    Black and brown is actually my favorite color combination to wear

  14. 14
    December 30th, 2010 at 8:41 pm

    I agree with LeLe- I wear black and brown often- usually black tights with chocolate brown suede boots. It’s comfy and looks good! :)

  15. 15
    December 30th, 2010 at 10:33 pm

    Thanks for this! I was afraid to wear my tan ugg boots, dark blue skinny jeans, black long sleeve v-neck, and leapord headband becouse i dint know how it would look but now thanks to this im eager to try it!

  16. 16
    December 30th, 2010 at 11:58 pm

    Try navy and brown…it may be a bit harder to pull off, but it’s one of my fave neutral combos! I love this post. Great job!

  17. 17
    December 31st, 2010 at 5:45 am

    I’ve usually avoided wearing black and brown together but a few weeks ago nothing seemed to go with a chocolate brown skirt I own. I just ended up wearing a black shirt and quite a few friends complimented me on the outfit. So I guess it’s a pretty good combination after all. But then again, it depends on outfit itself too.

  18. 18
    December 31st, 2010 at 11:08 pm

    I will only do black & navy.

  19. 19
    January 2nd, 2011 at 10:52 am

    Black and brown used to be such a challenge for me! It kind of still is, but I accept it more now, lol. I love the shoes in look 1 & 3.

  20. 20
    January 2nd, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    This is so not a challenge and should be done on a daily basis.

  21. 21
    January 2nd, 2011 at 7:11 pm

    I am STILL afraid at times to trash that old rule – but now I think you’ve inspired me! I got these awesome new flat brown boots for Christmas and I think I won’t be afraid anymore. Awesome outfit ideas too!

  22. 22
    January 3rd, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    I love this look and think it’s even better when you use color blocking brown on top black in middle and same shade of brown on bottom

  23. 23
    January 3rd, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    haha I didn’t know this was a rule?! I love mixing black and brown :) Fun post!

  24. 24
    January 4th, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    Love it!! I wear black and brown a lot and I’ve seen plenty of other girls do it, and I think it looks great! I think it’s silly to still follow a lot of these so-called “rules.”

  25. 25
    January 5th, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    I love this combo especially for the summer months, I would wear a black dress and brown sandals and accesories, like Kate Moss does.

    And although I’m not very sure about the darker shades of brown mixed with black during the winter, lighter shades, as you said, like camel, beige and so on, look perfect together! I’m a huge fan of black tights and my minetonka tall boots for all my weekly outfits.

    Great challenge, since there are still some people who haven’t realised how good these two colours look together!!

  26. 26
    January 14th, 2011 at 12:08 am

    I did this today! Brown, tall leather boots with a mostly black ensemble, and a brown/white/black plaid scarf to tie things together. Got some compliments and definitely will try it again.

  27. 27
    August 13th, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    i found a very nice bootie. Im torn which color to buy – black or brown. Im searching for answer via internet and stumbled on this post.
    i already own two brown boots that i love! but im kind of hesitant to buy black as I feel it overpowers me. And if it this counts – my bags are mostly brown. Im really torn, the booties are expensive for me so i want to make a perfect choice – one that i can live with and choose to wear! Help ASAP before stock rans out!

  28. 28
    November 12th, 2011 at 5:39 pm

    Last week I broke this rule twice! Wednesday I wore a leopard-type cover with a black long-sleeved shirt, a camel colored tank and camel colored boots. Someone that day looked at my outfit and said, “Do you think black and brown go together?” And I told them of course! They disagreed though, oh well! I’ve never been fond of conservatives anyways :) The next day I wore a sweater-type cover that was a lot of different brown shades but I live in a log cabin so my room has a yellow tint and I mistook the dark grey for brown. I ended up wearing a grey shirt under it with a brown tank top, brown accessories, and brown shoes. I had someone tell my that black and brown don’t go together AGAIN and I said “So you don’t like my outfit then?” And they told me they loved it… poor confused souls. Anyways 90% of the girls at my school wear t-shirts and yoga pants so I don’t take their opinion into consideration much! Guess what I’m wearing today? Brown boots and leg warmers, a brown tank and a grey sweater. I’m such a rule breaker!

  29. 29
    December 1st, 2011 at 1:13 am

    I AGREE !!
    I love black&brown

  30. 30
    January 13th, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    neutrals dont get along with other neutrals… they dont compliment each other… a very light shade of grey might work… but pure black with brown is an eye sore…

  31. 31
    May 17th, 2012 at 1:20 am

    I guess its an essential to have that little black black dress in your closet. Its fun to mix and match it with neutrals such as brown or even with bright colors. Ideas such as these brings out a sophisticated classic chic look on every girl. Continue posting for more fashion ideas. =)

  32. 32
    October 24th, 2012 at 9:27 pm

    I am terrified of this rule so glad im not the only one whos thought of going agaist the “normal”
    I have these great boots! They’re brown leather and I have a different shade brown sweater dress and black tights. Can I do black between two different shades of brown?
    I also have a black leather jacket and a jean jacket that’s a lighter color would either of those work with my boots?

  33. 33
    March 23rd, 2013 at 6:38 pm


  34. 34
    November 24th, 2013 at 11:20 pm

    Fabulous I love it

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