When you’re planning out your outfit, your pants are incredibly important. After all, they make up half (or more) of the outfit in terms of space, so they can tie together or shatter color schemes, pattern combinations, and style choices. So if you feel hopeless when figuring out how to tie your pants with your outfits, you may feel like outfit planning is daunting.
Luckily for you, we’re going to help you understand the best ways to pair the most universal pants—brown ones—with the best colors and designs. Men’s brown pants are practically universal for outfit design, so knowing how to build outfits around/with them is key to diversifying your wardrobe and taking your style to the next level.
What Colors Look Good with Brown Pants?
We’re going to break down the complete scale of which colors go best with which shades of brown, but an easy hack to pair brown with certain colors (and really to pair any color with any other) is to check complementary and analogous colors.
Complementary colors are the ones on the opposite side of the color wheel that pair perfectly with the color in mind. Brown, for example, is the opposite of light blue. So, depending on how dark your brown, you want a lighter shade of blue, and vice versa. Analogous are colors close together on the color spectrum but not overlapping. For brown, these are your greens and purples.
How Do You Pair Brown Formal Pants?
Brown formal pants can work well, but they can also break an otherwise good formal outfit. There’s the classic brown khaki and blue polo combo, which is a classic for a reason—but you can risk looking boring or too traditional in it.
Generally, follow the color combinations we discussed above, but also keep in mind that you can break color combinations with intention and flair. Maybe you have some nice brown chinos and a good light blue polo; add a pair of nice white sneakers and pink socks to add a streak of brightness. Have fun but build the formal outfit with intent.
Dark vs. Light Brown
Ah, the age-old question: dark or light brown pants? Well, the answer is age-old as well: it depends. Your skin complexion is something to consider (although personal color profiles are a bit beyond the scope of this article). You also want to think about your current wardrobe spread.
If you’ve got a lot of dark colors in the closet, maybe diversify with some light browns, or vice versa, if the opposite is true. At the end of the day, you should probably have at least one option of each but have more of whichever shade you prefer.
Pairing Dark Brown Pants
Alright, you’ve got a good pair of dark brown work pants and you need a good shirt to go with it. Starting broadly, you’ll want something light. You never want too much dark in an outfit (unless you’re making a statement, which you rarely will be on the day-to-day). So wheel over to the lighter side of your closet.
Technically, you can pair almost any light color with a dark brown. A light pink can work just as well as a light orange, in some cases; however, some colors do work better with dark brown, generally.
As we mentioned above, complementary and analogous colors are king. Get out your light blues, greens, and purples. If you’re figuring out a work outfit with brown khaki pants, maybe that light green polo you haven’t worn in months is just the right option.
The main thing to keep in mind is that dark brown usually favors more formal/professional settings. Very rarely will you find dark brown men’s cargos, and they usually don’t look the best—but sometimes they do!—so keep in mind your setting. Dark brown will definitely work well in a work setting; it may work less well in a more casual setting, but you can still rock it if you do it right.
If you are going formal, you can somewhat disregard the “no all dark” rule. Instead, you can wear a dark grey or black button-up with your dark brown pants and have a darker look for date nights and other formal events. Dark brown chinos can be especially good in situations like these.
Pairing Light Brown Pants
For light brown pants, we have a lot more options. For one, you’ll probably want to check out some light brown chinos, like Perk’s Feel Good Chinos. Chinos are comfortable, casual, clean, and perfect for almost any occasion, and a good pair (or three) of light brown chinos can be just what you need for your casual to semi-formal wardrobe, so be sure to get some men’s brown chinos.
Beyond even brown chino pants, light brown pants have plenty of options: you can get brown cargo pants, brown cargo shorts, and brown trousers. You don’t want to overload on the light browns, but having one or two pairs for any occasion can be quite diverse.
As far as pairing goes, light brown pants are the inverse of dark brown: you want darker shirts. But, much like the pants themselves, you have more options for the types of shirts you can wear. Whereas dark brown pants favor professional settings, and thus their shirts must as well, you can wear almost any top with light brown pants.
Get yourself some good T-shirts for any casual or semi-professional occasion. Check out Perk’s Feel Good Tees (which go especially well with the Feel Good Chinos) to get shirts that are well-fitted, durable, and comfortable—all crucial aspects of any good t-shirt. You can also pick up some well-made polos and stylish button-ups (but not dress shirts) to have any shirt you could want to go with your light brown chinos and pants.
For colors, darker shades of the same colors as dark brown pants work well, so your dark blues, purples, and greens are always going to look great with light brown pants. You can also go for the polar opposite and wear white shirts, especially if you plan on wearing a dark jacket, like leather or dark-wash denim.
Shoes and Accessories for Brown Pants
Now that you’ve got yourself some stylish brown chinos and other brown pants for your wardrobe, and you’ve got them paired with some good shirts for any occasion, you need to consider what shoes and accessories you want to wear with them.
For shoes, pair your pants with shoes that complement their shades. For lighter brown, go with neutral or brown shoes, while darker shoes work well for dark brown pants. But, as with all things in style, you can break these rules if it's intentional and well-executed.
For accessories, you can never go wrong with a clean watch and some good jewelry, like a necklace or bracelet.
If you want even more fashion tips and men’s styling guides, be sure to check out the rest of Perk’s blog.