Style Hack: how to wear brown

No longer the preserve of geography teachers, brown is back – and it looks the business

Brown. Why are we so afraid of it? For whatever reason, we men tend to stay stuck in our navy and grey microcosms. But, brown (particularly in winter), is a versatile and surprisingly chic colour choice to build-out your wardrobe. It stands apart from the crowd, but in a discreet and wearable way. It’s slightly retro credentials make it a timely choice, too, what with designer menswear’s current penchant for ‘70s and ‘80s style.

If you’re going to work some earthy tones into your wardrobe, there are two key considerations. The first? Go tonal – brown is at its most sophisticated when it’s layered up in different shades. Whether you dress a tobacco linen suit with a cream jersey t-shirt and chocolate tassel loafers, or pair a tan suede bomber with sand-coloured chinos and a taupe piqué polo – brown layered on brown always looks smooth.

Second: texture is everything in building a tonal look. Avoid stripes, checks and bright patterns in favour of subtly contrasting fabrics – whether you’re in tailoring or weekendwear, it’s an infinitely sharper look than an outfit punctuated with loud patterns. Think soft suede jackets over washed denim shirts, mottled wool/silk/linen blazers paired with crisp cotton shirts, or rugged work jackets over clean lightweight merino knits. You can apply this rule to any tonal look too (even navy and grey), if you’re so inclined.

We’ve put together these all-brown looks to show you what we mean, featuring sharp autumn/winter staples guaranteed to tick the right boxes. Take notes from these for some tonal style mileage this season.

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Opening credits. Left: Wool/cashmere suit jacket, £1,490, trousers, £300, both by Canali; Cotton shirt, £145, by Gieves & Hawkes; Cashmere knit, £890, wool tie, £200, both by Isaia; Leather Oxfords, £410, by Crockett & Jones. Centre: Wool checked jacket, £2,700, by Isaia; Cotton shirt, £109, by Boss; Wool tie, £85, by Corneliani; Velvet trousers, £220, by Oliver Spencer; Leather derby boots, £680, by Crockett & Jones; Leather suitcase, £1,510, by Globe-Trotter. Right: Wool/cashmere double-breasted suit, £1,025, by Richard James; Merino rollneck, £140, by John Smedley; Corduroy shirt, £215, by Boglioli at Mr Porter; Leather derbies, £410, by Crockett & Jones