How to Wear Brown This Season

When I worked in fashion I learnt something very important: for most designers, Pre-Collections are more important than Main. In between spring/summer and autumn/winter, the majority of brands release a pre-collection, which is like a little preview that hits stores around December and July just before the main collection drops. This is what you should be paying attention to if you want to spot the commercial pieces and to get a preview of what’s to come. 

I worked for a huge luxury department store for years and the buyers always invested heavily in Pre, so I paid attention and got an early indication of what trends were being picked up and gaining traction. While I saw what has been shown on the runway 6 months earlier,  I learned to always scope out stores early to help plan which trends I’m going to focus on for rest the season. 

And what have I seen for AW18? Pantone might be touting ultraviolet as the colour of the year but this season is an undeniable ode to brown. Chocolate, cocoa, chestnut, walnut, coffee….brown. The two trends which have emerged triumphant already are the seventies and leopard print/animal print, both of which lean heavily on one of fashion’s most overlooked hues. Brown is really the new black! 

Brown was seen at the likes of Rochas, Gucci, Etro, Dior and Fendi as well as Chloe, who embraced the awkward hue with open arms. Chloe always draws inspiration from the Seventies but AW18 is literally like stepping back in time, Natacha Ramsay-Levi’s collection features a muted, earthy palette and details including billowing silk shirt dresses and blouses, retro prints and chunky gold jewels. Coupled with the current craze for classic logo pieces from Fendi and Vuitton, it’s no surprise that brown has been picked up heavily by the high street. 

The colour brown tends to be a bit controversial in fashion. It gets a bad rap for being boring, bland, ugly and difficult to wear. I have to admit, when I started seeing it appear on the runway and in store windows, I did have flashbacks to my uniform for the Brownies! My primary school uniform had a similar colour palette too and neither were a good look. 

Despite these two traumatising incidents(!) I’m open to embracing brown this season. I’m a huge fan of leopard print, for me it’s a neutral, so my autumn/winter wardrobe will naturally skew towards brown and caramel shades. As for the Seventies, I’m more likely to adopt a couple of nods like fringing or flowing silhouettes rather than a full-on throwback look.  

I like the challenge of wearing brown, like Miuccia Prada who stated, “Brown is a colour that no one likes, so of course I like it because it’s difficult”. There’s something very satisfying about getting out of your comfort zone and challenging yourself. Earlier this year I wrote about the dress that pulled me out of my style rut and I feel like embracing brown can shake up my winter wardrobe in a similar way too. 

Intrigued by brown and want to give it a whirl? Here are my top five tips for wearing brown this season: 

1. Stay true to your style

This is THE most important piece of style advice and is applicable for any trend and any season. If you’re really not comfortable in brown or the Seventies trend or leopard print, simply don’t wear it. I have to admit that the Seventies aren’t my favourite trend, so I found this dress which is actually a nod to the Eighties (another huge AW18 trend) and it is much more me than some of the Chloe-esque pieces I spotted on the high street. 

2. Try a subtle nod

If top-to-toe brown is daunting, try gently dipping your toe in the trend rather than diving in head first. Brown and leather go hand-in-hand so try some accessories. I’ve also seen some lovely brown knits and tweed blazers. 

3. Keep it fun

Brown feels a *serious* hue. It conjures up images of librarians or my GCSE physics teacher, Mr Clark Maxwell. Brown definitely needs some fun, slightly whimsical or playful elements. That’s why I paired this dress with pink fluffy mules, after trying on a pair of silver court shoes it just felt flat but the fun of the fluff perfectly offset the seriousness of brown. 

4. Don’t forget the accessories

Brown is one of those shades which looks utterly delicious against gold. Like a fun or whimsical twist, I will definitely be piling on the jewels when I wear brown. For me, the combo of brown and gold adds a more luxury element and elevates the whole look. I wore layered necklaces through spring/summer in winter I want to pile on the rings and maybe throw on a waist belt. 

5. Accent shades

Brown is actually a super versatile hue to wear, especially when you pair it with jewel tones like emerald greens, sapphire blues and warm yellow. The overall look is rich, sumptuous and slightly reminiscent of a box of Quality Street! My finishing touch to my look was my little Miu Miu clutch, the shade contrasts beautifully with the deep brown dress and the gold chain detailing gives it a luxe edge. 

Dress – Zara | Shoes – Topshop (past season) | Bag – Miu Miu (past season)

Photography by Adorngirl

Reena Rai

Reena Rai is a 30-something London-based fashion, travel and lifestyle blogger. She has been blogging for 10 years (!), previously at before launching her self-titled blog.


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