Did you grow up with the idea that it was important to match your boots or shoes to your outfit or at least your pant color? Brown boots, brown pants. Black pants, black shoes. White Capris, white sandals. Or if the color red is in a floral print top, you might choose red shoes. Ditto for spotting yellow, green, turquoise, or orange in a print dress.
I’m going to challenge all that (maybe not all at once!) by introducing a reason to wear cognac colored suede ankle boots in a jean outfit that’s 100% focused on black and white.
Seeing it differently this year
I don’t know if I would have shared this idea with you last year. It just didn’t come up. This year I’ve added some much-loved black and white pieces into my wardrobe. Plus, I’ve gone coo-coo for mixing stripes, checks, and plaid, which is easy to do in black and white.
But when I put this outfit together—my striped cotton tee, a windowpane peplum jacket, and the bold plaid oversized jacket—I had no desire at all to wear black boots with it. I looked over at my black patent leather boots and my black suede ones there on the floor of my closet and didn’t want to go near them. It was odd, as odd as it would be for me to suddenly not want dark chocolate after dinner.
I turned away from the obvious black boot choice and picked up my cognac suede ankle boots instead.
As soon as I slipped into them, all was right with the world. Chocolate? What chocolate? Who needs chocolate?
It’s not a black and white issue
I added my cognac bag so my boots would have a friend. I’d achieved the perfect mix for me.
When something feels so right from the inside out—even while it goes against an obvious choice—I have to explore why.
I took a couple of minutes to stand in front of my full-length mirror.
Remember, everything about clothes has a message. It’s why building an outfit is so much fun. You get to add a little of this and a little of that to create a look that deeply satisfies you.
Tallying up the messages in this outfit
Here’s what we’re looking at.
Black and white are sharp and classic together.
Straight lines are more formal than curvy ones, and my outfit has lots of straight lines.
You could say my denim jeans are informal. True, kind of. In the various shades and washes of denim, this dark indigo is the most formal of them all. To wear a jean with a more casual message, I’d keep going lighter in color and add a few holes or frayed edges.
I didn’t want to change a thing about my black and white print combo or my choice in jeans, but I was feeling too light, bouncy, and frisky to want to come off being too stiff or formal. So to match how I felt and how I wanted to be perceived in the world, I had to add something that would give my outfit the friendly vibe I wanted.
Shades of brown come to the rescue
I looked to the color brown to help me out.
Here are messages that shades of brown put out into the world:
What’s the message of black? Black gives a vibe of sophistication, high authority, power, mystery, and sensuality.
If I walked around in this outfit wearing black boots and carrying a black bag, I’d be feeling businessy. I’d be marching along, focused on getting a job done, prepared to be authoritative if need be.
On this particular day, I was looking for balance. I wanted to be more approachable than mysterious, more friendly than authoritative.
And cognac gave me the balance I needed. And once we feel solid about the message we want to convey, it’s easier to own that and really put it out there.
So that, my friends, is why I wore cognac boots with my black and white outfit.
How is this landing for you? Can you see my reasoning for not wearing black boots? Would you consider wearing a different color in your shoes and bag than the rest of your outfit? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
PS If you’re interested in learning more about color messages, you can read here about how I fell for the color yellow and what yellow means in the world. Also, In the Dressing Room with Brenda has a chapter (#13) that goes into messages in case you have that in your personal library.