Matching Colors - Blue & Brown

Matching Colors For Men – Blue & Brown

Many men have a tendency to wear the same clothes and accessories over and over again, and I imagine that some do it out of disinterested habit. For those who really do enjoy clothing, not knowing

Brown Glen Urquhart 3 Piece Suit wth Salmon Shirt & Orange Knit Tie

Brown Glen Urquhart 3 Piece Suit wth Salmon Shirt & Orange Knit Tie

how to successfully pair colors and patterns may be the reason. The other day, we discussed the color green in menswear. Today, I would like to take this a step further and discuss matching colors & patterns with blue and brown jackets & suits, using some beautiful illustrations from 1929.

Of course, it would be easy to always wear charcoal, navy and black suits and overcoats with a white or blue shirts and red, yellow or blue ties. Chances are, no one will ever consider you to be poorly dressed. Your clothes will be nothing more than an uninspired work uniform when they can be the expression of your character, your personality and your understanding of elegance. As an additional benefit, learning to match colors and patterns will allow you to get more out of the wardrobe you already own.

The Blue Jacket or Suit

In Naples, navy blue is undoubtedly the number one color in every well-dressed man’s wardrobe. Of course, crisp white shirts look great with it, as do light blue and pale pink. But you could also try to wear it with fine red stripes, a solid pale green, salmon orange, or other pastel colors such as yellow. If you decide to go with a more colorful shirt, opt for a more subdued tie in subtle micropattern or solids/stripes with interesting textures or weaves. Most of the time, something darker will look great with colorful shirts, for example a repp tie or solid knit tie.

Navy Jacket, Winchester Shirt with Club Collar, Collar Pin & Spectators

Navy Jacket, Winchester Shirt with Club Collar, Collar Pin & Spectators

If you like hats, a soft gray fedora will pair well with it. With a double breasted navy suit, consider a gray Homburg as well. With brown shoes, pair a blue suit with a light brown hat and sand colored gloves – the mix of neutral colors will look great with blue. In my opinion, it usually looks elegant if you choose your socks so they are related in color to your tie or shirt. On the other hand, cufflinks  can be worn for a little more contrast; for example, a navy pinstripe suit, pale yellow shirt, burgundy tie, malachite green cufflinks, black shoes and a gray hat & gloves.

If you wear a navy overcoat, gray scarves are very conservative looking whereas red or copper make you stand out a little more.

Brown Jackets & Suits

Brown suits were exceptionally popular in the 1930s. Unfortunately, nowadays brown suits have not been very popular for the last few years, although brown is such a versatile color that looks great with almost anything. For shirts, avoid white (which looks harsh) and choose pale over dark blue. However, pastel colors ranging from green to red to yellow are great with brown. I have a pale green winchester shirt with a white collar and cuffs that looks splendid

in combination with a Madras tie and a three-piece brown suit. Of course, this is a more daring combination, but the vest tones down the overall effect of the colors and the patterns & colors remain subtle. For striped shirts, I recommend a blue background with red, yellow or green stripes. In order to make it a bit more formal, you can combine it with a subtly striped

tie and a white pocket square, collar and cuffs. Herringbone pattern ties in various colors such as green, yellow or red are also nice. As I mentioned before, brown enables you to wear many things, but if you choose one strong color like red or pink, keep your other colors muted or the combination will go from interesting to loud quickly.

Brown Double Breasted Suit with Polka Dot Tie, Red Striped Shirt, Green Hat & Light Blue Shadow Stripe Socks

Brown Double Breasted Suit with Polka Dot Tie, Red Striped Shirt, Green Hat & Light Blue Shadow Stripe Socks

How to Match Colors

When trying to figure out what color will match your suit best, the key is to put it all together before you put it on.If multiple patterns make you nervous, try imitating a combination such one in these fashion illustrations until you develop more comfort with mixing.

  • First, think about why you are wearing a suit that day (wedding? cocktail party? work? just feel like dressing smartly?)
  • Secondly, pick the appropriate suit and shirt. Here is your first opportunity to try something new, such as a pastel shirt. Place the shirt underneath the suit.
  • Thirdly, take a few ties in various colors, patterns and textures and hold them next to the suit and shirt. In the beginning, you may need ten or more ties before you find one that harmonizes with the ensemble.
  • Choose a pair of over the calf socks. The traditional rule is to match them to the color of your trousers. If you want to add a dash of color, look at the rest of the ensemble. With a blue shirt and red tie, maybe a pair of socks with these combined colors. Of course, the red and blue of your socks won’t match the tie and shirt exactly, but that’s the beauty – it all will form a unit without being perfectly matched.
Blue Overcoat with Grey Hat, Scarf & Sand Gloves

Blue Overcoat with Grey Hat, Scarf & Sand Gloves

  • On to pocket squares. Never match it exactly to a the suit, shirt or tie, unless you choose a solid white or pale blue pocket square. Instead, try to pick a color from your outfit such as your socks or tie. If you have already used strong patterns or colors, consider a solid square.
  • Consider the full combination. If you’ve selected multiple patterns, vary the  size of the pattern for overall harmony, i.e. a large pattern tie, solid pocket square, and fine pattern on the socks and shirt. Swap out patterns that are too similar in size and texture.
Brown Jacket with Light Blue Shirt & Blue Red Striped Bow Tie

Brown Jacket with Light Blue Shirt & Blue Red Striped Bow Tie

Once you have completed this routine for a few months, I am positive  it won’t take you as long anymore, and you will probably find a multiple combinations you really enjoy wearing. While this is great, you should switch it up, even if you just change the socks or the pocket square, or maybe get a tie in a similar shade with a different pattern. Over time, your accessory collection will grow and your possibilities of combining colors become practically endless.  Of course, there will be days where you pick an outfit that was probably not ideal, too bold or bland. However, in order to develop one’s own style it is important to undergo this process and you will see that over time your taste changes as well. Things you may have loved years ago may just not be you anymore. In any case, use color to express your personality, have fun and be stylish!

Last but not least, what are your favorite color combinations for blue and brown?

15 replies
  1. Arsch Sharma
    Arsch Sharma says:

    Great article! I dress in a very conservative manner, with most of my shirts being white, cream or blue,and my suits are either black or some shade of grey. I do posess some beautiful shirts that I have not worn for quite a long time. Some of them are silk shirts, made from fine mulberry and Mysore silks. However, I was hesitant to wear them because I didn’t want to dress wrong. In fact, thesedays I was wearing grey flannels paired with a black overcoat almost daily. After reading this article of yours, I will definitely try other combinations.

  2. Marcus Jochum
    Marcus Jochum says:

    Hey Sven-Raphael,
    first of all, thanks for the article – well done as ever (gotta love those fashion illustrations!). Anyway, I have a related question that’s been bugging me for a while. I own a dark brown corduroy jacket that IMO combines nicely with a tweed tattersall waistcoat (mustardish-yellow background – that also has a certain amount of subdued green fibers woven in – with dark red and brown checks). Together with an off-white shirt, a vintage red paisley wool tie and amber cufflinks that makes a lovely, festive, autumnal ensemble (again: in my opinion. If anyone has improvements, go ahead, I’m still a novice :) ). So far so good … problem is: I just don’t know what trousers to wear with that o0.
    For casual occasions, the jacket goes nicely with jeans and brown wingtips, alright, but I’ve tried several combos with the aforementioned one that I’ve read about in forums and none worked out: charcoal flannel, brown tweed, black corduroys, light grey pinstripe (ordered from bad to worse) … the worst was a suggestion in a local shop: curry colored jeans. I left that shop immediately.
    Personally, I looked for the right kind of light brown/sand colored corduroys, but can’t seem to find something satisfying.
    Do you have any recommendations?

    • Sven Raphael Schneider
      Sven Raphael Schneider says:

      Marcus, I am picturing your ensemble right now and considering the textured jacket, patterned tie and vest, I would advice not to wear corduroy trousers unless it is a corduroy suit with matching pants.
      Considering, that you already have two patterns and colorful accent, I would choose either a camel – sand flannel or a chino in the same color. However, make sure there is enough of a contrast to the Tattersall vest. OF course, if you can send me a pictures, I can provide better advice. This is just based on what you wrote.

  3. Ahmed Sajeel
    Ahmed Sajeel says:

    Another one after my heart … In fact I was thinking along the similar lines for my next contribution. You know I relish experimenting … While navy suits provide a multitude of possibilities; making brown appear classy is the experts’ domain. Blue lends itself most generously to uplifting brown. Right shades of green and orange follow closely too.
    Well done and thank you

  4. Ahmed Sajeel
    Ahmed Sajeel says:

    And if I’m not intruding … Marcus may consider a light blue shirt which would complement medium grey worsted trousers rather handsomely the rest of your outfit

  5. Marcus Jochum
    Marcus Jochum says:

    Ahmed, of course you’re not intruding – your suggestion is most welcome! In the meantime, I had sent a picture of the ensemble to Raphael, who in turn suggested plain sand colored dress pants.
    I had thought of a light blue shirt, too, but dismissed the idea because I couldn’t match it… now I will try your combination and see if it works out.

    (ahm would “worsted” be “Kammgarngewebe” in German, and is it necessarily a twill? Just to know what to look for… )

  6. Park Jacobs Weatheby
    Park Jacobs Weatheby says:

    Thouroughly excellent article on how to mix and match complimentary colors, after reading it I now have the courage to take my medium brown birdseye pattern suit out of the closet and combine with so of my accessories.

    Thanks so much for a wonderful article look for to more insightful information!

  7. jdgershbein
    jdgershbein says:

    My clothing strategy with blues and browns is to either harmonize by bringing in the pastel equivalents of the primary colors, or not so subtly insert a color that will offer enough of a contrast to make it interesting. I try not to bring in disparate elements that will pull attention away from the overall look. But having something just a bit different will shift the emphasis and up the level of sophistication.

    Golds, coppers, rusts and grays are my go-to colors in the brown/blue domain.

    I try to always look effortless in dress, but not totally “matched.”

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. [...] For monre information about how to match colors with blue & brown garments, look here. [...]

  2. [...] interesting combination of blue and brown is presented in the following picture. The soft wool or cashmere tie is nothing new but if you look [...]

Comments are closed.