Brown and Blue

Jenny the Lilac Cat reacted to the Trump post last week by asking

The entertaining GQ clip suggests ‘brown and blue is a winning combination’. As my fashion guru do you agree?

I am with GQ on this. “Brown” and “Blue” are of course a wide range of shades and hues. GC was specifically proposing a fairly deep brown tie with a navy men’s suit. And here is a photograph of my daughter’s wedding. Shane chose a brown tie to wear with his smart navy suit and I thought it looked terrific. Absolutely spot on.

So what are the rules on wearing brown and blue together?

Let’s consider the two colours. Blue, a primary, is the cool colour. All the cool colours have blue in them. Brown on the other hand is not in the rainbow as it is not a pure colour. It is made up of a primary, plus the opposite (on the colour wheel) secondary colour. For example red (a primary) and green a secondary and red’s opposite or complementary colour) blue and orange , or yellow and purple. Effectively this means it is made from the three primaries coming together – red, yellow and blue. Brown therefore is a colour that can be warm or cool. Warm if it has lots of yellow in it, cool if the blue is stronger. Think of the sort of browns that are ochre and mustardy – these are the warm browns and the colour we probably think of when we think of brown – tan leather, donkey brown or tobacco . Orangey browns are also fairly warm – the gingers for example.  The blue browns can look more like taupe – a little smoky given the addition of lots of blue – in their light incarnation these are the lovely, neutral stone colours. Then there is dark brown, almost black. This is a cool colour.

So which browns pair well with which blues, and for whom?

For someone with warm colouring the yellowy browns are a great basic, especially if your hair is light brown, with a yellowish or reddish tone. The yellowy browns are set off very nicely with the warmer blues (teal, petrol and blues with a bit of yellow in them).

If you have cool colouring then blue is great basic in all its incarnations. Use a cool brown, like Shane’s tie above. Wear dark brown shoes with a navy suit. Or a brown Alpaca hand knit with a navy T and dark jeans.

Cyrene front view

If you have deep brown hair and blue eyes and a clear pale complexion you may have bright colouring, for you the bright blues look good with brighter browns – the cool versions. This is the colouring that really rocks the bright navy dress with tan accessories.

Muted people really can work these two colours together, especially if both of them have a greyish undertone. Lovely grey-blue with taupe – perfect.

Light colouring is set off well by lighter shades – all the pale blues, stones and light creamy browns.

To my mind deep brown and deep navy are the perfect combination for someone with deep colouring, ideally set off with white. Shane has deep-cool colouring and looks great in a dark navy suit with a white shirt and dark brown rather than black accessories. So much fresher and more interesting. With deep colouring two or more deep shades can look really nice together, eg maroon and navy, black and brown, forest green and deepest brown.

Finally brown and navy can both play the role of neutrals – they don’t shout “colour” at us. This means we tend not to tire of them. They look elegant and classy. Most neutrals look well together. Also I want to say there is no rule about about any colour not being suitable for pairing with another one. If you follow the rule that colours stick to others in their “set”, as above, they will always look harmonious together.

I have some nice fabrics that contain both brown and blue. I look forward to making these up at some point!

And here am I (cool-bright-light) in light navy, cool brown and white. This colour blocked circle dress made a virtue of the fact that each piece was huge and had to be cut from sections. I put two of my favourite colours together, offset by white.

Circle Dress by Fabrickated
Draped Circle dress

So in response to Jenny L I agree with GQ on this – blue and brown can be a winning combination.

13 Responses

  1. Joyce Latham

    Fantastic post Kate! ( you will soon learn how to get rid of those beer bottle with one click, when you get into your photography courses)
    You look absolutely beautiful in blue and brown. Your daughter looks wonderful on her wedding day, love the crown!
    I’ve always been afraid of browns with my cool colouring…you have opened another door for me. Thank-you!
    Joyce from Sudbury.

  2. Stephanie

    Love the combo! (But then again I put navy with everything.) I also really like grey and brown/taupe for a “cool” person. Shane looks very handsome in his navy suit with brown tie.

  3. Suzanne

    Interesting post. I tend to do color by gut reaction to combinations. (Trial and error). Learning color theory would be useful! And I love your circle dress!

  4. Annie

    I’ve just realised that I’ve never consciously paired those two colours believing that they don’t ‘go’, I have a French navy skirt and donkey brown top and I’ll have a little think about wearing them together.

    I’ve yet to respond to your timetable post, when I compared your routine to mine, I couldn’t find the words!

  5. Brenda

    What great pictures today! Your hand knit is an impressive example, and it’s a treat to see a pic from your daughter’s wedding. What a lovely couple, and I agree that Shane’s tie and suit choice is quite stylish. In several of the examples, the choice is a lighter brown with a navy. However in your fabric examples, the browns are darker and the print includes other colors. I wonder if navy and dark brown need another color I the mix to break up the darkness. What are your thoughts?

  6. Jenny (the lilac cat)

    Great pictures of you all and thanks for a really helpful guide. In fact after your email saying go girl re blue and brown I went straight out and bought a great pair of brown boots to go with jeans. Lots of favourable comments!

Leave a Reply