I believe quite strongly in rules. I look both ways before crossing the street. I file my taxes early and pay on time. I don’t swear in front of children. (OK, maybe I slip on that one sometimes.) I signal my turns. There are dozens of rules in life that I’m quite willing to follow.
But “never wear brown and navy” ain’t one of ’em. Although I’m excited to be living in a world where fashion rules are disintegrating rapidly and steadily, I’m also excited to push color-related boundaries that the fashion world still considers sacred. For the love of green platform shoes, if two colors work together, wear them together. THE END!
OK, not the end because I’m gonna give you some examples. Here are a handful of typically taboo color combos that you – yes you – can happily and stylishly wear. Like tomorrow.
BROWN AND BLACK
This one is so commonplace in magazines, blogs, and catalogs that it hardly feels taboo to me … but I know that many women still fear wearing these two venerable neutrals in tandem. My advice is to include a third neutral or a dusky, muted tone in the mix to keep your outfit looking organic. Brown and black alone can look stark, but mix in some gray, ivory, mustard, or plum and you’ve got a gloriously refined-looking ensemble.
BLACK AND NAVY
OK, OK, this is more teal than navy. Although I definitely believe that black and navy can be worn together, I struggled to find a photographed outfit to showcase the pairing. This combo is trickier and needs to be done in a way that looks intentional.
The easy route is to find a piece that includes both navy and black in the pattern. It can be a dress, blouse, scarf, necklace … just about anything. Pattern is the great bridge to color pairing because if a clothing designer did it before you, you KNOW it can’t be “wrong.” Furthermore, incorporating a patterned piece gives you the freedom to pile on solids in colors that might otherwise feel strange to pair. (This idea will come up again and again, as you’ll soon see.)
BROWN AND NAVY
Navy actually pairs BEAUTIFULLY with most shades of brown; Everything from tan to cognac to chocolate. Navy has the amazing ability to skew cool or warm depending on the colors it’s worn with, and the rich warmth of brown brings out the best in this deep shade of blue. Here I’ve got on a navy dress with cognac shoes and there’s loads of separation between the two shades. When in doubt, going this route is almost fail-safe: Shoes in one shade, clothes in another, and bare legs between softens the blow of a taboo color pairing. This outfit shows chocolate and navy together but, once again, relies on a patterned piece that includes both colors to bridge the gap.
My main advice for this duo? Don’t be scared. Start with a navy piece and try a few shades of brown until you land on one that pleases your eye. Experiment and play until you’re boldly wearing your brown dress and navy wrap to work! To parties! To dinner!
PINK AND RED
Now we’re getting into “taboo due to holiday connotations” territory. Red and pink are so Valentine-y that women are loathe to combine them. And yet they’re perfect partners! Since pink is simply a lighter value of red, the two look naturally perfect together. But the world declares anything pink and red to be a heart-shaped box of chocolates … so add another color to the mix. Here I’ve chosen brown (which, come to think of it, just ADDS to the box of chocolates metaphor), but gray, black, and purple work equally well.
Once again, patterns can be the magical bridge – here’s an outfit featuring a dress that includes both red and pink in the pattern.
RED AND GREEN
Red and green are complementary colors on the wheel, but wearing them together inevitably smacks of yuletide. ESPECIALLY bright red and emerald green, as I’m sassily wearing here. Both the pattern-bridge and expanse of bare leg techniques are being employed here: The scarf I’m using to belt my dress has both red and green in it, and the red dress is separated from the green platforms by my naked calves. And honestly, wearing these specific shades of red and green without those bridging techniques will probably look undeniably Christmas-y. But there are a billion shades of red and a billion shades of green, and pairing some more offbeat shades will look marvelous. Raspberry red and lime green, maroon and olive, brick red and teal … the possibilities are endless.
So! Was this helpful? Feel inspired to pair some typically taboo colors? Any combinations that I missed? Which color pairs do you avoid religiously? Which taboo pairings do you absolutely adore?
**UPDATED: WOW PEOPLE. I would never have thought that THIS post would be one that required a reminder:
Be civil and respectful or I will not publish your comment. You are, of course, welcome to offer differing opinions and declare that everything here seems like total nonsense to you. But do it like a grown-up. Do not get cruel, personal, or disrespectful. House rules.**