Black and Brown

Black and brown. A forbidden combination. Why do people say these colors don't work together? They look *fantastic* together. Like, consistently. Here, I'll prove it.

Black and Brown
Jonathan Daniel Pryce

As you might know by now, I enjoy debunking menswear taboos. You can jet your pockets casually, you can wear blue jeans with black loafers, you can wear linen in the fall. But one of the more prevalent myths in menswear has to be that you just can't wear black and brown together. Not only do I think you can do that, I think they're really a downright fantastic combination. Contrasting the two directly, in almost any shade of brown, consistently gets me going. So wear white after labor day and let loose, it's time for some good, simple color inspo.

I'm going to organize this as a slow awakening, peeling back the layers of the taboo one by one:

  • First, that you can't wear black and brown together at all. You can and should. They look fantastic together. You'll see knits abound, lulling you into a sense of comfort.
  • Second, that you can't wear black shoes and brown pants, or vice versa. London can learn a thing or two, and I've found some fussy old men to teach them.
  • And third, that you can't wear black and brown together while you're in tailoring, or in traditional tailoring, or in formal tailoring. You will, by the time I'm done with you.

Warning: There might be some incredibly dark browns here that just look like blacks to me. I don't think those cases really detract from the article, though. Browns will mostly be dark, but cover a range that includes rust and "light browns" or dark tans.

The Base Matter

Sameer Sadhu
Daniel Simmons mixes black and brown quite often.
Naomi Elizée, Editor at Vogue
A Wythe belt styled by No Man Walks Alone
Nick Arreguy
Emma Chamberlain
A horsehide jacket from Buco
Simon Crompton of Permanent Style.
Aaron Hu
Brittany Bathgate
Ethan M. Wong loves black and brown, but you'll see a lot more of that further down.
Chloe Miles
Story MFG
Margaret Howell
Callum Mullin
Dave1 of Chromeo
Toshihiro Yasutake and his family, coordinating.
Here, I wore black cords and brown suede loafers with a brown sweater from Uniqlo. Soft textures all around.
George Costanza in Goretex

Shoes, surely

So you've already seen some cases of brown pants with black shoes and vice-versa above. But let's keep going. Some photos focused on the footwear, and even some cases of two-tone footwear that just looks great.

Peter Zottolo
The Maison Martin Margiela GAT Replica in Black + Brown
Ginga Ahuya
New Balance x JJJJound 990v3
Madeline Harper Fass, another editor at Vogue.
Simon Crompton of Permanent Style

The Only Proper Way

I like a broad spectrum of tailoring, from casual to straight up formal, and there's no place I've found where brown and black look bad together.

That said, you'll see some patterns. I notice, in particular, a lot of knits—turtlenecks, in particular.

I'll also note that I just don't see a lot of black suits out there. You'll see odd black trousers, but I don't have any relevant inspo with brown suits. I'm sure a brown suit and black knit would work beautifully together, though, try it out and let me know how it goes!

Simon Crompton of Permanent Style
John Greenacre Robinson has beenrocking a lot of black lately. He can even make black dress shirts look good consistently.
From the Noah SS22 Lookbook
Buzz Tang and Vanessa
Richard Biedul
@hsinhan_seatheworld popping the collar is a little much for me, but the color breakdown is cool.
Niklas Nystrom
Marc Jacobs in a bespoke suit by Huntsman
Milad Abedi
Scott Fraser Simpson
Thomas, in a fashion take with a brown jacket and black trousers.
Kiyoshi Martinez
Aaron Hu
Saman Amel
Philip Gregard in a Scott Fraser Collectoin suit
Kenji Cheung of Bryceland's
My brown DB with a black tee and black chelseas. Partially inspired by Saman Amel above.

more on the topic.

Jonathan Daniel Pryce, again. Damn, I love this photo.