Several years ago at work I had the following conversation regarding my wardrobe:
Coworker: "All you ever wear is purple and black."
Me: "That's not true!"
CW: "You're wearing purple and black right now!"
Me: "No I'm not. I'm wearing gray and lavender."
Variations on this conversation have popped up over the years, and I am known for my fierce devotion to purple as a fashion do (although, I have to say, usually a decorating don't. You'll never find me painting my walls violet or fuchsia). I also wear a LOT of black. It's simple, classic, slimming. Always in style, easy to accessorize, and good with my skin tone. I've tried to mix things up with some gray pieces, which has been fairly successful. For awhile my work wardrobe was some variation of this outfit: suit jacket with pants or skirt, in black or gray, and some purplish top. Less successful is expanding into navy blue-most navy pieces are for either a) women over 50 b) sailors or c) women of any age wanting to look like sailors. I don't know why navy is considered an "older woman" color-a sharply tailored navy suit is quite smashing with a silvery lavender blouse or a jewel toned shell. But just try to find cute shoes to go with said navy suit, and you find that the prejudice against navy runs deep. I've been looking for four years and am starting to lose hope.
Lately though I have circled back around to another neutral: brown. You would think with my olive skin, brown hair, and hazel eyes, brown clothing would be a no-brainer for me. However, I find it much more difficult to work into my wardrobe. Browns come in too many non-matching shades to match easily (whereas black always goes with black, unless you do a horrible job washing it and your black item is now off-black). Also, some browns simply clash with my hair. Strange but true: was in Old Navy the other day looking at their cute cardigans, and as fabulous as the brown was on the display, when I tried it on it looked horrible next to my particular shade of brown hair. I compromised with purchasing the pink, as it goes well with both my hair and brown clothes.
Why this sudden foray back into the world of brown? Well, I have always had a few brown pieces, and therefore I had a brown coat and a brown bag. The bag is fabulous, but the coat had seen better days. While on my honeymoon, I came across the most sumptuous brown suede jacket, complete with fuzzy lining and faux fur accented hood. After seeing my face light up when trying it on, my generous husband promptly bought said jacket. While I have never been a big fan of fur, real or otherwise, somehow it works on this coat, and I just feel extra warm and comfy in this jacket.
With the jacket purchased and a great bag already in my collection, it was time to upgrade the brown boots. One must always have boots in black and brown, because there is no surviving winter without them, but my brown boots had been purchased at either Payless or JCPenney, neither stores known for their long-lasting quality footwear. The boots were accordingly quite run down. So I bought these, which I had been drooling over for quite awhile, biding my time until a good sale+coupon deal came along. Originally $150, purchased for $80, supremely comfy and stylish. I am wearing them as I type, and couldn't be happier.
Now I am on the prowl for brown and tan skirts, since a skirt with a good pair of boots is one of the cutest outfits around. I have a few brown shirts, so a nice tan skirt like this snazzy one from NY&Co seems like it would fit the bill quite nicely. NY&Co also has this cute skirt, although the photo online doesn't seem that brown to me. I'm looking for a good chocolate color.
(Of course, in the searching for skirts, I came across this gorgeous crimson number at Ann Taylor. My favorite non-neutrals to wear are in fact purple, cobalt blue, and dark red, and I love a strong dark red bottom with a black top. This is taking me away from my new brown commitment, but hey, nothing is going to take me away from my classic black look, not even the coziest coat of all time.)
(And furthermore, going to Ann Taylor is dangerous, because I will inevitably find several hundred dollars' worth of goodies I would like to purchase, such as this phenomenal dress. And if I wore pointy-toed shoes, I would totally buy these kitten heels.)
But back to the brown. It's harder than usual to find good brown pieces-perhaps it is not as popular this year, or (perish the thought) it too has been relegated to the world of navy, limited in style and options. But I seem to remember several seasons over the last decade where brown was considered the 'it' neutral of the moment, so I won't despair. I'm sure in a week the fashion gurus will have declared gray to be old and dull, and chocolate brown the greatest thing since women stopped wearing corsets and hoop skirts.
I'm not giving up my favorites, of course. One thing I tell people who ask me for fashion advice is to find what works on you-both colors and styles-and then don't compromise on that just to please the fashion mavens. Fortunately, purple looks really good on me, and so I have no qualms buying a lot of it. And brown and purple? Perfect combo.
So the next time someone says all I ever wear is black and purple, I can correct them and inform them that I also wear brown and purple!