Brown dress, what colour accessories?
December 6, 2009 11:26 AM   Subscribe

I have an awesome brown dress to wear to a fancy office holiday party, but don't know what to do next in terms of shoes, tights (?) and accessories. Mefi Fashion Police to the rescue!

I am the owner of a great little brown cocktail dress. The colour can best be desrcribed as a medium chocolate-brown that leans ever so slightly to the warm end. My fiddling around with Microsoft Paint can best approximate the colour using the Red-Green-Blue scale as R: 100, G: 65 and B: 10. It has deep curved-v neck, three quarter sleeves, and comes down to about 2.5 centimeters above my knee.

I have worn this dress before, but always in the summer. Then, I went bare-legged, wore light black dress sandles and accessorized with a cream, oversized chunky graduated-bead necklace. It looked awesome, IMHO.

However, now that it is December in Toronto, I have some issues with revitalizing the look for winter.

Question 1:

Can I wear opaque black tights and *very* cute black kitten-heeled shoes with this dress? The rule generally is no black with brown, right? Does this mean I should go bare-legged with a different coloured shoe?

Question 2:

If I can't wear black shoes, what colour should I wear?

Question 3:

If I can wear the black tights and black shoes with this dress, can I still wear my cream coloured necklace and earrings? If I wear a different coloured shoe, can I wear the accessories?

Thank you mefites!
posted by elkerette to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (37 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I tend towards colors, and red tights with the cute black kitten-heeled shoes would be great. I veto the black tights because they just make the whole thing much darker and even though it's winter in Toronto, there's no need to look funereal. Black and brown can go together, but not that much. And the cream colored necklace sounds great, but if you find some red (or dark red) tights, you might want some accessories that pop in the red scheme.

Good luck! You'll be darling no matter what you decide on!
posted by cachondeo45 at 11:29 AM on December 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

Brown knee high boots would be cool and you could wear the accessories for sure. You could go with nude tights if necessary for warmth. Ya?
posted by pick_the_flowers at 11:32 AM on December 6, 2009 [5 favorites]

I'm personally not a fan of opaque black tights with brown dresses. Either a fun deep color tight, or brown tights with a subtle pattern would be my choice if you want the heels. I love the knee high boot idea too.
posted by Zophi at 11:35 AM on December 6, 2009

Best answer: Could you wear nude-colored stockings instead of black tights? As someone who constantly wears brown (and navy!) with black, I'd be fine wearing a brown dress with black shoes-- but not black tights. Cream accessories will be fine, no matter what else you wear.
posted by oinopaponton at 11:38 AM on December 6, 2009

Aside from brown shoes, you could also wear cordovan/burgundy ones. Those go with black AND brown clothes.
posted by Madamina at 11:51 AM on December 6, 2009

i would wear maroon/wine/burgundy colored tights (but not red). this might be because i'm a brown-skinned person, i always think people's skin colors may demand different choices in this realm. i think such a thing as sheer brown hose exists, so that might be a viable option if you're a whiter-skinned person. but i still think maroon is the best bet.
posted by anthropomorphic at 11:55 AM on December 6, 2009

I don't know what your personal style is like, but the first thing I thought was "turquoise tights!!" You could do that with brown boots/shoes or black, I suppose. The cream jewelry will work with anything.
posted by i_am_a_fiesta at 11:58 AM on December 6, 2009 [7 favorites]

Stacey and Clinton from What Not to Wear would say black and brown are ok together because they are both neutrals. However, I agree that black tights with a brown dress is a bit too heavy and could look frumpy. How about a dark red/turquoise color combo? This would liven things up and nicely accent the brown. Maybe red tights with a chunky turquoise (the color, not the stone, unless you already own it) necklace, or turquoise tights with a red necklace.
posted by lunasol at 12:07 PM on December 6, 2009

I'd say that light grey, aubergine, or olive opaque tights are worth looking into. Something earthy, but still neutral. As for shoes, while black seems like it might clash a bit, try the kitten heels you have on with it. My hunch is that a smaller black shoe that plays well with the tights won't clash with the brown dress, but it's all about details with that sort of thing.

The accessories should be fine, too. But again, what matters isn't the platonic ideal of the color combination, but the items themselves. Trust your instincts! Style "rules" might nudge one in the right direction, but they are never hard and fast.
posted by Schismatic at 12:09 PM on December 6, 2009 [2 favorites]

I was going to suggest turquoise tights too. I love brown with turquoise together. You could still wear the cream necklace. I'm not sure about shoes though...
posted by apricot at 12:09 PM on December 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

I love black and brown together -- I wouldn't hesitate to go with the black opaque tights and kitten heels, perhaps add a dressy cardigan that is also black and stick with the cream color accessories.

I think adding some black to the top half of your outfit will balance out the black on the bottom.

One of my favorite outfits is a black sweater, brown corduroy skirt and black knee boots, for example.
posted by hilaryjade at 12:22 PM on December 6, 2009

I've been wearing a lot of burgundy, aubergine, rust, and muted teal with browns. I agree that black tights risk looking kinda frumpy and perhaps a bit too casual.

Tights from Sock Dreams.
posted by desuetude at 12:23 PM on December 6, 2009

I think these tights in the teal color would look amazing. Black shoes would be just fine. If you could find a necklace to match the tights that could look nice too.
posted by TooFewShoes at 12:32 PM on December 6, 2009

For winter, nothing fits the season better than cable-knit tights à la childhood. A cream/off-white pair should work nicely with your cream necklace. The "Hue" brand makes a nice pair.
posted by moreandmoreso at 12:35 PM on December 6, 2009

Gold gold gold! Or definitely teal. Teal and brown are gorgeous.
posted by elsietheeel at 12:48 PM on December 6, 2009

I can't beat the suggestions here, so I just want to add that as a temporary resident of France, fashionable French ladies seem to pair black and brown often enough. This reassured me enough to do the same.
posted by nicoleincanada at 1:04 PM on December 6, 2009

I have a brown dress I wear all the time in the winter, and I generally avoid black. I really like pairing it with red or cream.
posted by Juliet Banana at 1:08 PM on December 6, 2009

Here are some examples of black + brown that mostly work. I think it works best as an balanced mix.

Black tights + black shoes + a brown dress would be too unbalanced and 'cut you in half' visually. Switching out one of those elements would work well (so: brown boots that match the dress, or different colored tights that compliment both.)
posted by Solon and Thanks at 1:24 PM on December 6, 2009

If you have the black tights and shoes and you think they look great, then please go ahead and wear that combo. Don't let some silly rule about black and brown stop you. Black, cream or gold accessories will be a conservative set of complements, but you might choose a bolder accent colour in a necklace that also uses brown, gold or cream.

But if you do want more colour in your tights:

- anything in the blue-green range would be wonderful
- if you can rock red tights, go for it
- gold (non-metallic, please! Why, oh why does winter party season lead to metallics everywhere? Ugh!) also goes beautifully with brown

(I have a maroon-brown summer dress I'm trying to adapt for winter, so this thread will be useful for me. too.)
posted by maudlin at 1:25 PM on December 6, 2009

The far-right picture, btw, would look good and is essentially what you can do in reverse with a black cardigan.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 1:26 PM on December 6, 2009

If the dress isn't already shiny, shiny tights are okay, imo. (not the metallic kind of shiny- just the kind that have a sheen.)

Also, if your whole outfit is brown, I'd think you could wear nearly any color cute shoes you wanted. They'll really stand out, though, so cute would be a priority. Any pics of the dress available? Does it have a poofy skirt? A tight one?
posted by small_ruminant at 1:39 PM on December 6, 2009

Oh, and i meant to add, I have these and they're amazing. Soft, sexy, flattering, and they look phenomenal with my tall brown boots.
posted by desuetude at 1:56 PM on December 6, 2009

Red and brown combos usually squick me out for unknown reasons. I live in NYC, where black goes with everything, and I see tons of women mix browns and blacks. In fact, I remember being totally shocked when I moved here from DC because I always thought mixing black and brown was a faux pas.

That said, I agree that gray or purple tights would look really cute. Printed or netted tights from Urban Outfitters, like these or these or these or these, would also be very fun.
posted by zoomorphic at 2:34 PM on December 6, 2009

Hail fellow squicked!

Red and brown squick me out too, Nice to know it's not just me. Something to do with blood or something. Not sure.

posted by small_ruminant at 2:47 PM on December 6, 2009

I'd love to find some of those off white knit tights like I wore as a little girl! Anyone know where to find some in ladies sizes?

And I think that style would look good with your dress too, but not with black shoes.
posted by TooFewShoes at 2:48 PM on December 6, 2009

I'd love to find some of those off white knit tights

posted by small_ruminant at 2:53 PM on December 6, 2009

You can definitely mix with brown and black, but I always feel awkward when I do it myself. To answer question #2, I have a very awesome chocolate brown cocktail dress and faced the same dilemma with what color shoes to wear. I chose a metallic brown shoe. It actually had different colors in it, some more gold leaning and some more brown leaning and some silver, but they were subtle enough be complimentary without distraction. I think a subtle gold shoe would work as well. I went bare-legged and it was january in NYC, but would probably have chosen nude colored hose. I ended up wearing gold jewelry with blue accents, but cream would have worked too.
posted by getmetoSF at 3:14 PM on December 6, 2009

I'm not too sure what to do about tights (I live in the south and don't even own any), but a huge trend right now that would look great with your dress is metallic shoes. You could pair a cute gold or bronze shoe with large, chunky gold/bronze accessories and I think it would look great.

Alternately, a cute animal print shoe which incorporates brown would also look stellar.
posted by tryniti at 3:15 PM on December 6, 2009 [2 favorites]

Black with dark chocolate brown is OK in my book, but you have to just look at the two together and see if the shades actually work. Warm brown could be a bit awkward, but I think you just have to try it and see how it looks. There has definitely been a fashion trend of wearing very opaque black tights and black shoes with absolutely everything. If it looks too heavy though, perhaps woven black tights, lace or crochet pattern.

As for shoes, if not black, metallics can work - I'd try dark gold/bronze or a sort of dark grey/taupe metallic. Or perhaps a deep burgundy/oxblood color. You really have to try against the dress and see.

I also think bronze/brass type of metallic jewelry could look very nice.

I kind of hate brightly colored tights because to my mind, they look really twee-indie-quirky instead of just stylish, but then, some people go for that.
posted by citron at 3:38 PM on December 6, 2009

I'm in Toronto too, and look better in brown that black, so brown is often my party dress colour. There are many good suggestions above. I say think about layering tights too - you can do a black fishnet or lace over brown (or fun colour opaque tight), that way you continue the line of the shoe with the black and still have a hint of colour so you don't look to dingy or clunky. Excellent boots are always a good idea, and they're on sale everywhere - even Value Village has had some amazing ones. The cream can work, but maybe mix it with some sparkly brown and black? Otherwise it might be too stark in contrast. I was at St. Lawrence Market this morning, and nice black jet necklaces were selling for $10-25 (and plastic cheaper!) and there were some smoky brown colour crystal beads too. Those mixed together with the cream jewellery would tie everything together so nicely!
posted by peagood at 4:29 PM on December 6, 2009

I'd go with patterned brown/maroon/burgundy tights and then your black shoes might work fine, with the solidness broken up a bit.

I agree that the bright tights can look very cute but aren't for everyone.
posted by palliser at 4:59 PM on December 6, 2009

If you're going to use black, go all-out: I'd totally rock some opaque black tights with black mid-heel Clarks oxfords and a black 50s chiffon scarf at my neck.
posted by aquafortis at 5:00 PM on December 6, 2009

Best answer: It has become perfectly acceptable to wear black shoes with a brown dress, particularly really cute kitten heels. The tights should be quite sheer.
posted by theora55 at 8:28 PM on December 6, 2009

Best answer: The first thing that came to mind for me was thick ivory tights with chunky platform sandals and necklace in a bright color like turquoise, red or purple.

If you want to go with your current black shoes and cream accessories, nude or brown fishnets might give you some extra coverage without the heaviness of black tights. Keep in mind, the smaller the fishnet pattern, the warmer they will be.
posted by platinum at 9:27 PM on December 6, 2009

How fancy is this party? My first thought is that many opaque tights are going to be a bit causal for dressy party. Also a dress that looked appropriate for summer with bare legs is probably not going to work with heavy tights. If you're planning to wear a dressy shoe, most of them are fairly refined and not clunky. A heavy tight is going to look odd.

With a brown dress for evening you've got a couple of traditional options for shoes- a metallic (which often look dated to me), an animal print, a brown or a cordovan (generally not an evening choice). I love a fun color for a dress shoe - I would pair that dress with a green shoe and bag. Sort of like this color combo at Zappos. (Thought that particular shoe might be a bit dear.)

What color is your hair? If you have no idea what shoes to wear with a dress, it's will usually work to match your hair. It creates an overall look of harmony and balance. Brunettes can wear black/dark shoes. Blondes can wear tan, taupe or other lighter tones. I always want to scoff at this advice, but it works. When I look at an outfit laid out on the bed, black shoes look great. I get dressed and those same black shoes look too heavy since I'm pale and blonde.
posted by 26.2 at 8:46 AM on December 7, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for the great advice folks! I have decided to wear the black shoes and cream accessorries with sheer nude nylons.
posted by elkerette at 7:29 PM on December 7, 2009

That sounds like it will be very pretty!
posted by small_ruminant at 7:52 PM on December 7, 2009

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