Once upon a time a group of well-dressed individuals traveled across the Earth, filled with despair at the array of poorly-dressed people.
Something had to be done. So these travelers gathered together in secret and formed what became the Fashion Police. These arbiters of style gathered about the round table and laid out the commandments of style: thou shall not wear denim with denim, thou shall not wear brown and black together, thou shall not wear navy blue and black together, thou shall not wear socks with sandals.
The rules of the Fashion Police governed style for centuries, but as the world becomes more modernized, the commandments are fading into antiquity. In the post-Geek chic, mid-ironic fashion era, rule-breaking fashion statements are dramatic and so wrong that they're just right.
Whoever said black and brown don't match is a dirty liar. This rule belittles shoppers everywhere with the assumption that we don't possess the intellect to put together a bi-neutral outfit. The trouble that comes with mixing neutrals is substituting black with a dark brown. If you can barely tell if the item is brown, don't wear it with black, because it looks like you got dressed in the dark. The key to wearing this look is contrast and color scheme.
If you don't know where to start, there are pieces that already combine brown and black, such as Alloy's Gwen Knit top, $24.90. To create a complete outfit, begin with what I like to call the Two-Thirds Rule. If the accent piece is brown, that is the focal point of the outfit and one-third of the ensemble, and the other two-thirds of the outfit should be black, or vice versa. The Two-Thirds Rule creates a frame and complements the two colors. For example, start with the Polka Dot Craze blouse from threadscence.com ($32) and add a black pencil skirt (Charlotte Russe Black Ponte Pencil Skirt, $26.50) and heels for a very basic, but polished, business causal look.
Swap out the pencil skirt for a less-traditional one, like an American Apparel Corduroy Circle Skirt, and the lower half of your body is now the focal point. Complete the Two-Thirds Rule by adding a solid black top. I love this paired with a thick, off-the-shoulder sweater, such as Victoria's Secret's Rolled Sleeve cotton/cashmere sweater, $50. Add colorful or printed tights or chunky socks (or both) and lace-up boots to personalize this outfit.
Consider accessories when putting together your outfit. A skinny brown belt complements a solid black or patterned black dress, like BDG's Skinny Belt, $20 at Urban Outfitters. When choosing a brown shoe or belt, choose a red or orange hue. Forever 21 brown Braided Leatherette Sandals, $19.80, come in a great color.
No longer are your browns and blacks at war, they can now co-exist peacefully.