Thursday, February 8

The Question of Brown vs. Black. (Part Two)...

After reading my recent post on Seasonal Wardrobe Capsules, Dana posed a good question:

Do any of you have a problem with the brown vs. black issue, especially for shoes. sweaters, and jackets? I have the worst time coordinating outfits because half my pieces go with a brown based wardrobe and half with a black.

Dana, I have wrestled with this very problem recently. When I was a child, we always had black shoes (they went best with our Catholic school uniforms) and I kept to this when I began picking out and paying for my things. I bought black shoes, black handbags, black belts, and black totes. Everything matched (which I love) and my wardrobe worked very well with black accessories (i.e. there was no brown).

As I got older though, I wanted to branch out a bit and try to add brown to my life. It seemed like it would go well with my skin tone and hair color. I hesitated, though, because I liked my accessories to match (same shade handbag as shoes type of thing) and I didn't have a ton of money to spend changing everything over. That is when I decided that I could have the best of both worlds!

I now have two parts to my wardrobe: things that go with black and things that go with brown. I have a several black handbags, a few pairs of black shoes, a black winter coat, and some black and gray skirts, tops, etc.). In addition, I have a brown handbag, a few pairs of shoes, a lighter weight wool coat in royal purple (much prettier then it sounds, though I should have listened to my first instinct and gotten the tweed coat instead!), and brown based skirts, tops, etc. When I wear an outfit that coordinates with black, I wear the black accessories and when I wear something with browns I choose my brown accessories. It may seem like a lot of work, but it isn't... especially if you organize your closet according to color and lay out your clothes/accessories the night before. Also, price doesn't have to be an issue either. Building a wardrobe takes time... Do it slowly, buying things one at a time when you REALLY like something. Enjoy the process!


Mimi said...

Regarding the black/brown dilemma, have you tried using cocoa or camel as your brown? These are versatile browns, especially if you are trying to include both warm and cool colors in your wardrobe.

(In theory, I don't believe in mixing cool and warm in your wardrobe. But, in practice, we all do it, don't we?)

Cocoa is a cool brown, and it pairs well with many cool colors. Being brown, it's not too bad with some warm colors, either. It's listed as a potential netural in the summer (low-contrast, cool-based) palattes.

To me, camel is even more versatile. You could build an entire wardrobe around a pair of black shoes, a pair of camel shoes and a camel purse. I've also seen lots of purses and shoes with both black and camel on them. That's the great thing about camel. While it's warm, it also coordinates beautifully with black.

I have dark blonde hair and ultra fair, pinkish, cool-toned skin. I look best in the light summer palatte. For simplicity's sake, I have narrowed down my best neutrals to winter(soft)white and light gray, with some blue here and there. But, I also confess to having some netural pieces in black in my wardrobe. It's not my best, but, being cool-toned, I can get away with it. And, sometimes, black is easier to find than other neutrals.

Being light, I can reach across to light spring and "borrow" light camel. So, I use camel with my soft (winter) white, with certain of my beloved pinks, with certain blues, with greens, and with black. For me, it's a great wardrobe bridge.

MamaBirdEmma said...

These are wonderful suggestions, Elizabeth! I would love to use this as a whole post (with you as the guest author)! Would this be alright with you? Is there anything that you would like to add to your comments?


Dana said...

Thank you, Emma (and Elizabeth)! In theory, I want a black/cool wardrobe, but through my random clearance-rack shopping I've ended up with a lot of brown and just a few disconnected black/grey pieces. Also my husband is a warm-toned person, so when he shops with me and picks out things he likes, they are always brown! But my wardrobe is due for an overhaul (my shoes and bags are all seriously wearing out, and I need a few more professional outfits, so I'm taking the opportunity to actually think about the big picture before shopping). One of these days I'm going to take your lists of wardrobe and color combinations, organize, and decide where to start!

Courtney said...

Emma, I have a question regarding religion for you, but I didn't want to ask in an open forum on your blog. Doesn't seem appropriate...would you leave me a private comment on my blog, and maybe I can contact you through that? If you feel comfortable, of course. :)

Mimi said...

Hi Emma,

I would be pleased to have you use anything in my comment in a post. :)

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