Stuck on whether that green shirt is going to go well with your brown pants? Don’t freak out just yet. In this article, we’ll cover whether green and brown go together, review basic color theory, and ways for pairing earth tones in your wardrobe.
What Matches Brown Pants?
You’re in luck. The short answer is almost any color will match brown pants. That’s right, the green shirt you were just worrying about — it will match brown pants too.
Brown typically serves as a neutral color. We define neutral colors as those without intense saturation or vibrance. As it pertains to men’s fashion (and really all fashion), we use neutral colors as canvases or even anchors for more saturated tones.
Because of its lack of saturation, brown is a great neutral base color to support the more saturated colors in your wardrobe. As far as what goes with your brown pants, the options are pretty limitless.
Color and Pairing Earth Tones
Let’s get a little technical here. You might be furiously googling “brown pants outfits” or “brown outfit pairings,” but there’s a slightly more scientific reason pairing earth tones is so easy.
Let’s reference the color wheel:
Brown falls somewhere in between the red and orange spectrum. Now, you can use the color wheel to actually make your pairing with those brown pants in question with a few key terms to keep in mind.
Complementary Colors – If you are looking for a more dramatic contrast in your pieces, you’ll want to focus on complementary colors. These are the colors sitting opposite each other on the color wheel.
If we’re looking across from where brown would sit on the wheel, then we see blues and greens create great contrast to your brown base.
Analogous Colors – If you are looking for more subtle contrast, use analogous colors. These are the colors adjacent to each other on the color wheel. Sometimes it sounds counterintuitive since these also “complement” brown well.
The closer you stick to one area or slice of the wheel, the more monochromatic your palette will be. In the case of brown, you’ll be picking up those warmer tones.
There are varying shades and hues of colors affecting the severity of the contrast, particularly between green and brown, but this basic knowledge should help you make your decision.
If you want less contrast but still want to pair a green shirt with your brown pants, stick to earthier and muted tones. We’ll talk about those next.
If you’re looking for more information on color pairing and using the color wheel, check out the following articles:
Earth Tones More Broadly
Now, just to round it out, brown and green pair so well because they belong to the earth tones color family.
In its narrowest definition, an ‘earth tone’ is any color containing some amount of brown. Which, of course, means you can easily pair earth tones with your brown pants. But, more broadly, earth tones are referred to as those found in nature.
So, that opens us up to not only more shades of of brown, but also rusty red, dark yellows, indigos, and (yes) olive greens. Picture a dense forest and you’ll pretty much have earth tones nailed down.
The best part about them is they are harmonious. So, if you’re stuck on what matches your brown pants, stick to these earth tones, especially an olive or forest green, and you’re golden.
Brown Pants Matching Rules
The truth is there are no rules. There are of course guidelines, but ultimately the right match for your brown pants is in the eye of the beholder (ahem, YOU).
If you have paler or more olive skin, lighter and desaturated colors will double down on that and give a ghostly, sickly appearance. Generally not something we want!
Stick to darker brown and green tones here. Contrast is good here.
Our top guideline, then, is to pay attention to whether the colors you choose wash you out. That means understanding what pairs well with your skin tone and hair color. (Don’t worry, we’ve got an article for that too.)
To recap: the green shirt does match your brown pants. Keep in mind the shade of green and the intensity of the contrast you want to create in that pairing.
When in doubt, go for earth tones to pair with your brown pants, or any brown pieces. These will always compliment each other.
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