It’s not red, it’s not navy and it’s not mustard. The colour of this autumn is – wait for it – brown. BROWN! The colour of sticks, chocolate buttons, 70s three-piece sofa suites and the carpet in my first student flat. Hardly glamorous. But, nevertheless, the fashion powers that be have decreed that all shades of brown are this season’s choice du jour, having been on the catwalks at Chloé, Rochas, Coach and Marni. And if that wasn’t enough, Dulux has named Spice Honey – a sandy brown – as its colour of 2019. Brown walls? You heard it here first.
A quick trot round the shops will tell you that the high street has gone for brown in a big way, with rails of chestnut, caramel and sludge piled high. It’s inescapable and it’s not going away anytime soon. So, the big question is, how do you wear brown without looking like the poo emoji? Or rather, can you wear brown without looking like the poo emoji?
I can’t remember the last time I wore brown. Save for the odd tan belt or bag, I’m honestly not sure if I ever have. Black? Yes. Navy? Most certainly. But brown? Hummm. I mean, I wasn’t even a Brownie. I suppose I can almost see the appeal – certain shades of conker have Ali MacGraw, Love Story vibes. Harvard on a bicycle with a knitted scarf and satchel – lovely. And you can’t say “chocolate brown” without thinking of Madeline Kahn’s Louis Vuitton trouser suit and matching car in High Anxiety – the epitome of “so bad, it’s good” style. But, then again, I still remember the time a friend bought a khaki-brown jumper, only to be told by her then-boyfriend that it looked like the inside of a nappy. (To be fair, it did.)
Anyway! They always say, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it, and in the interests of doing the fashion-legwork so you don’t have to, I hit the shops to try on as much brown as I could get my hands on. Would it turn out to be the chic 1970s vision we saw on the catwalks? Or would I look like a giant turd standing in a changing room? Here’s what I discovered.
You can wear brown with black
Never mind brown being the new black, perhaps the most pleasant discovery I made in the changing room was that the two can be worn together. Brown dress, black boots? Yep. Brown jacket, black bag? Go right ahead. Not only does this take brown back into a comfort zone, it also means you don’t have to buy a whole load of new accessories.
Indigo denim works brilliantly
While the catwalks and Instagram would have you believe that wearing head-to-toe brown is a cinch, it’s not. Trust me. I tried on a brown roll neck with a brown skirt and looked like a car seat. What does work, however, is blue denim. A brown jumper worn with a pair of indigo jeans and white or black trainers (I’m currently obsessed with these) is just the right amount of retro.
This was a bit of a surprise, but pink – blush, dusky, putty and even salmon – is the perfect partner to brown, turning what could look dull and dowdy into something far more fresh and sophisticated. & Other Stories’ silk shirt looks brilliant with darker shades of brown, while Warehouse’s tan jumper is made infinitely more wearable with the pale beige/pink cuffs and collar.
Brown cord will make you look like a sofa
If you want to go the full fashion-hog, then, this autumn, you will be buying heavily into brown corduroy. Cord made a revival last winter, but this season sees it go big time. At the best of times, this is a tricky fabric – but even more so when realised in all shades of mud. My tip? If you’ve got hips and/or a bottom consider dodging brown cord trousers and instead try an A-line skirt. Jackets are somewhat easier, but only if you’re on the small-boobed side. For a truly safe bet, try Topshop’s cord sandals (bellow) and stick them on with a midi dress.
Coats and boots are the easiest way to wear brown
As with most tricky trends, accessories are the easiest way to tackle them. We’ve already discussed switching up your black ankle boots for brown (I’ve added these to the Christmas wish list – it’s never too early) and as for bags, check out John Lewis & Partners’ Avery cross-body bag in chestnut or nude. Coats, too, are a good route to go down. Like last season, fuzzy teddy coats are having a moment and these look particularly great (and teddy-ish) in rust and tan. Have a look at Simply Be and Warehouse.
A print will make brown infinitely easier to pull off
As one of my fellow Poolers stated: “I think shite brown needs something else with it.” She has a point. Solid brown can feel totally overwhelming, so break it up with checks, stripes or – everyone’s favourite – animal print. I’m currently after a brown and white polka dot dress, which feels very Pretty Woman, and have 23 October marked in my diary for when M&S’ tiger-print dress goes on sale. I’ll wear it with a black biker jacket over the top.