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How to make brown exciting in your outfits

Rag and Bone Jacket Delfi Skirt United Nude Shoes Chloe Bag by Modnitsa Styling

Living in NYC, I’m never surprised when a new client confesses to me that 90% of their wardrobe is comprised of pieces in varying shades of black (J/K, there is no real “varying shades of black”, it’s all one color!) I can very much appreciate black as a neutral, being slimming, forgiving, easy to mix with, etc., etc. But on the flip side, black can be conservative, masculine, too severe, gloomy and even morbid. It is also very contrasty, and therefore can be too strong for someone who doesn’t have very high contrast in their facial features (hair color combined with eye color and skin color). Even more so when paired with other high-contrast colors, like true white and bold shades of red, green, blue, etc.

When we do a Color Analysis during our first session together, we discover many other colors that can be easy to work with, that are exciting and fresh – and can create different moods for your wardrobe. Usually black is the last color we discuss, as there are so many other options, but very often, as an alternative to black, I recommend brown to my clients with softer features or more “warm” undertone (that’s something that has to do with the composition of your blood, and how much hemoglobin, melanin and carotene you have — which gives you a bit of a tint – either more yellow (warm) or blue (cool).)

My suggestion is oftentimes a revelation to my clients, who are not used to wearing brown, and often overlook it for various reasons – like not being sure what to mix it with, thinking it’s boring, etc. Those who do embrace it, usually report back that they love the outcome — as brown is a much more soft and feminine color than black, it’s approachable, easy-going, and believe it or not, works well with many colors. It really shines next to anything that contrasts it, like all shades of blue from turquoise to navy; it coordinates well with green and certain types of black; and it’s fabulous with shades of the same hue (color family) — from rusts to reds.

In today’s outfit, I put touches of brown together with spots of red and green (with some black and gold) to show you how this simple color can look so refined and anything but boring. I also used another style element of line to create a story with my look via the stripes of the skirt along with the pleats and the stripes on the shoes (something we call “linking” in styling). Check it out!

I started the outfit with this Justine Pleated Skirt by Delfi from Anthropologie (unfortunately it’s sold out, but below I found some similar pleated styles), and chose my favorite Theory black turtleneck as a base layer. I then paired brown tights with green-and-black striped United Nude booties and my new favorite Rag and Bone Army Green Slade Blazer. As finishing touches, I grabbed my Chloe Drew in Red, and an EvaAndreDesign Necklace that has touches of brow and gold and my new Bora cocktail ring.

I hope this outfit inspires you to replace some of the black in your wardrobe with brown, or add some brown accents to your looks!

Would love to see if you end up playing around with brown in your styles, please share on Instagram using #ModnitsaStyle, and I’ll repost on my Insta Stories!


Dina - Image Consultant, Wardrobe Editor, Personal Shopper of Modnitsa Styling

Photography by Leslie Moncada

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