Disclosure: We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.Life is full of interesting rules. Even fashion rules, like don’t wear white after Labor Day, don't mix prints, and don’t wear black with navy. There are even guidelines in the world of style that suggest our shoes must match the bag we carry. In general, we feel compelled to follow this advice but this suggestion is puzzling. Can you wear a brown bag with black shoes?
Yes, you can wear a brown bag with black shoes. Matching a bag with your shoes used to be a fashion rule. In this modern era, however, our bags and shoes do not need to match.
What a relief that the matchy-matchy trend is gone. Our shoe and bag choices have been liberated. But this has us wondering about mixing and matching our wardrobes overall. Keep reading as we discuss the history of some of these outdated rules that we are now free to ditch. Or keep if we want to for that matter.
The 1950s Are Calling
Women wanted to embrace their femininity in the post-World War II era. Fashion in the 1950s was less reserved than it was in the 1940s. But clothing and accessories were still defined by rules. One of the rules that evolved in the ’50s was that shoes had to match a handbag.
One of the main factors in this trend was marketing. The '50s was a time in history where the clothing retailers were purposely displaying shoes and bags together like a matching set. Women were investing in their wardrobes. And having a matched set of accessories was an ideal way to expand their closets. Swapping out accessories like shoes and bags was the perfect way to refresh an outfit.
These days, the matching rule is almost non-existent. There is certainly nothing wrong style-wise with a matching set. In fact, coordinating your shoes and bag can be special. It can also pull together a neater and more elegant look. For example, if you are attending a formal event like a wedding, matching your bag and shoes is a deliberate style statement.
When Should You Mix and Match?
We’ve said there are no longer explicit rules for matching your bag and shoes. But there are some style guidelines to consider when putting your look together.
As follows are some tips to consider:
The Color of Your Shoes And Bag Should Coordinate.
It's fine to mix prints to a certain extent. But shoe and bag patterns shouldn’t be mixed. A pattern on one accessory should complement the other accessory. For example, if you are wearing shoes with a paisley pattern of purple, pink and orange, it’s ideal for your bag to be a solid color that coordinates with purple, pink or orange. The colorful paisley shoes with a leopard printed bag might just be too much to pull off.
A Neutral Look Benefits From A Pop of Color.
Pick a bag or a pair of shoes (not both) and make a splash with a bold pattern or color. For example, jeans and a plain t-shirt will highlight a poppy-red flowered bag. Keep your shoes in a neutral color like black or brown. Too many patterns or colors without an anchor hue is confusing.
Match the Metal on Your Hardware.
We're not saying that you can't mix metal colors like gold and silver. But we are saying that they should coordinate. And, honestly, you’ll look more stylish and mindfully pulled together if your shoes, bag, and jewelry have similar shaded hardware. For example, shoe buckles and purse zippers should be the same metal or the same finish. Shiny buckles go with shiny zippers.
Meshing Styles From Different Seasons is Not Recommended.
Your shoes and bag should be in the same realm of seasonal style. Those hefty warm winter boots will look strange with a bright striped canvas beach bag. Likewise, casual flip flops will look odd with a fancy bag trimmed in shearling or fur.
Casual and Formal Styles Shouldn’t Necessarily Mix.
Casual clothes tend to be less structured than formal attire. A hobo type bag isn’t the best choice with a sequined cocktail dress. And, a sparkly clutch isn’t quite right with Bermuda shorts and a tank top.
Again, no specific rules to follow here but some thought should go into pairing your shoes and bag so you can look your best.
Is It Ever Okay To Wear Brown Shoes With Black Pants?
Brown shoes and black pants in the same outfit? It sounds like another outdated fashion rule. Yes. Yes. Yes. You can and should wear your brown shoes with your black pants.
Even though we answered a resounding yes to this question, there are some stylish decisions to make when pairing the two colors together. No matter the shade of brown or black you choose, your shoes and pants need color contrast.
For a more casual look, brown shoes should be a lighter shade of brown if your pants are a dark black. And, if you are wearing a belt, the belt should match your shoes, not your pants. A darker brown shoe with black pants is better with a more formal or professional ensemble.
The contrast doesn’t need to be bold, but it should look like you meant to put brown and black together. Pairing black with too light of a brown hue will just make your shoes stand out and not in a stylish way.
Should You Always Match Your Purse To Your Shoes?
A rule we don’t need to follow is matching our purse with our shoes. We don’t always need a matched set. But, if we want a matched set, that's fine too.
Just because we don’t need to have a perfect set doesn’t mean that anything should go style-wise. Your total look, especially your accessories, should be in harmony.
We encourage the mixing and matching of colors and patterns but too much of anything is not what you should shoot for. Hot pink stilettos trimmed in a red hue can be complemented by a solid red purse in the same shade or a similar hue. A neon green purse paired with a pair of mustard yellow checked flats, on the other hand, is expressive but perhaps too much so.
Consider highlighting a color from your clothing. A bright yellow flower on a long brown skirt can be accented with a yellow purse. Shoes in this situation should be in a neutral tone like brown to complement the skirt.
And, don’t forget that for formal affairs, matching your shoes to your purse is an excellent opportunity to revisit the matching rule. This advice will elevate elegance in this situation.
Can You Wear Brown Boots With A Black Jacket?
Sporting a chic pair of brown boots with a sleek black jacket is a marvelous look. The key to pulling off this style is color contrast. A really dark brown pair of brown boots that almost look black will seem like you were trying to wear black boots but could only find brown ones to wear. Unless that’s what you meant to do, find a nice shade of cognac brown or camel boots to pair with your jacket.
Another sensible fashion tip is to choose brown boots with black soles. The soles will better coordinate with a black jacket.
Matching Rules Are Meant To Be Broken
Modern-day fashion is an expression of our personalities. There are definitely advantages to matching bags with shoes. Some people might find it easier and less time consuming to know that their bag and shoes will always match. Others might like the structure of their bag always pairing with their shoes. And, let’s be honest, switching bags can be a nuisance. It’s a fine way to lose your wallet.
And then there are the creative fashionistas with a closet full of bags and shoes that are begging to be mixed and matched. These folks thrive on coordinating their overall looks and pushing the boundaries of style.
If you want to match your shoes and bag, go for it. But know that you don’t have to.