Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Quick Change: Black, White, and Brown

Earlier Drafts:
I wore these boots with a wrap dress.

black draped tube top (
turquoise bib necklace (
white chiffon skirt (thrifted)
white capris (Gap)
brown boots (Steve Madden via Marshalls)
brown wedge sandals (Nolan by Faded Glory via Macy's)

Sorry I'm running late today, blogworld!  I'm at home writing my final essay for the semester, and I'm in need of socialization, even if it is merely virtual.  I haven't blow-dried my hair (yes, it's naturally curly!), I'm not wearing makeup, and I only just stopped to analyze this morning's dressing choices. 'phew'  So, here it goes:

I recently purchased this black tube top - one can never have enough black pieces, says I - and I've had fun experimenting with its silhouette.  Pants and shorts of any cut, like these white capris, seem to pair well with it.  By slimming the legs, they emphasize volume on top.  However, coupling the tube top with skirts requires a bit more creativity.  Some of my skirts are too short and don't make enough of a statement under the top's fabric; others, especially the A-line skirts, look too full under it.  So imagine my delight when I rediscovered this thrifted number hidden in the recesses of my clothes rack.  Several years ago, I located this white skirt while bargain-hunting with my mom.  I barely glanced over it, but she insisted that I purchase it.  Until today, I had yet to locate what seemed like the best top for it, so year after year this forlorn skirt ended up in my "To Donate?" pile.  Year after year I saved it.  Now I'm so glad I did - the tube top has redeemed the skirt, and I've created a fun new outfit from two hard-to-wear pieces.

In addition to experimenting with silhouettes, today's outfit also toys with a hotly debated fashion "rule:" Don't wear brown with black.  Katie questioned the validity of these so-called tried and true style codes several weeks ago when she challenged the No White Before Memorial Day standard.  You weighed in, concluding that rules were meant to be broken.  With this outfit, I echo you with a hearty "Here, here!"  I think women should pair brown - especially brown leather things and khaki-ish things - with black frequently and without reservation.

Here's a caveat, though: my husband, upon seeing my outfit, asked, "Does this mean I can wear brown with black too?"  What do you think?  If the brown-and-black palette works for women, does it also work for men when, say, they want to pair brown dress shoes with black suits?  I'm inclined to think that the black-and-brown palette looks sophisticated as long as it maintains enough contrast between the two shades.  For instance, these camel colored boots are not only separated from my black tube top by a neutral piece, but they also differ significantly in color from the black top.  My husband - and other guys -might achieve a similar look by executing palettes like this or this.  The point, I said, is to look intentional, not colorblind.  I could be wrong, though - do you think wearing black-and-brown well is a matter of contrast?

  • Which fashion rules do you love to break?
  • How do you wear black and brown together?  Do you think wearing them well amounts to maintaining contrast between them?
  • Have you ever surprised yourself by creating favorite outfits from neglected or hard-to-wear pieces?  Tell us about 'em!


bethany said...

I agree with you about contrast. I've yet to see a chocolate brown look good with a black, but I actually love black with khaki or tan. Same story with navy: looks great with a light grey or khaki, kind of weird with black or charcoal or dark brown.

Katie of Interrobangs Anonymous said...

I think you can mix almost any of the neutrals (navy and black, black and brown, grey and tan, etc.), but the key is to do it with intention.

For example, I'm normally not a fan of the whole "your shoes must match your belt must match your purse, etc.," but when it comes to multiple neutrals, I think it's a good rule to remember. Want to wear a black dress with brown shoes? Add a similarly colored brown belt, or cardigan, etc., and it looks intentional rather than slightly color-blind.

Another thing to do is to wear multiple neutrals, like you did here. Throw at least three into the mix (and have them be the dominant colors) and I think it'll always work (assuming other things like proportion are already taken care of).

Nate C said...

Careful with the anti-colorblind bigotry, ladies. Some of us have significant disadvantages to overcome.

That said, I agree. I will wear black shoes/belt with brown pants, but the opposite just doesn't work for me due to a lack of contrast. Usually a lighter brown in the sock will add to the complexity of the look instead of detract, and the presentation moves toward seamless.

Scholar Style Guide said...

Nate, I hope you notice that I have accepted your theatricality challenge in part by debuting some of my favorite dance team poses. I endeavor to perform these photos just as I perform these outfits. More "passionate" outfits - eh, elaborate? - to come. Oh. It's on.

We embrace all colorblind folks, let it be said :)


Nate C said...

Some people are this theatrical. They are called, humbly, "CHAMPIONS".

Anonymous said...

I'm going to be the voice of dissent and admit I love chocolate brown with black. Not even separated. Right up next to each other (black top/chocolate brown sweater). For me it's cool when it becomes about two things that are the same shade but with radically different textures. Like a crinkly black top with a sleek chocolate brown sweater. (I'm actually wearing that today.) =D
- Mackenzie