Why I’m embracing the colour brown

13 April 2022
By Sarah Murray

With the chocolatey hue making a comeback, FQ’s managing editor Sarah Murray explains why it’s taken her so long to get on board.

Milano Street Style AW22. Image: ImaxTree.

I first noticed the rich shades of chocolatey brown on the catwalks of Chloé and Bottega Veneta. The colour caught my attention — possibly because it made the ensembles look so striking, yet inviting. I’d seen it here too. Last year, in their Ladybug collection, Ruby brought out a head to toe outfit in brown — their ever-popular Firebird trouser with a matching crepe cowl back top in a decadent chocolate. The entire look was reminiscent of a trip to the Wonka factory — yet it was mature and warm. Later, when I saw an Instagram photo of Ruby designer Deanna Didovich wearing the same outfit, I thought how polished the two-piece looked, how elevated. It got me thinking how brown was a unique sartorial alternative to colour blocking in black that we’re accustomed to in New Zealand.

Didovich who says she’s ‘obsessed with all shades of brown — java, chocolate, espresso’ et al. agrees the shade is having a moment. “It’s earthy and rich, and a new neutral that can be added into a wardrobe effortlessly,” she says.

As if on cue, at the start of the season, style influencers were spotted wearing luxe brown outfits. While some chose only a light touch of brown detailing with a bag or heels. And not just your run of the mill brown either — we’ve seen an array of hues from deep cocoa to creamy caramel, to a sandy beige. What it all adds up to is that our tried and true staple of ‘all black everything’, the shade we’ve long been coveting, seems to be losing its hold as the country’s colour du jour. Black, while effortlessly cool in both tone and stature, has started to seem, well, a little basic. Brown on the other hand is warmer, and somewhat more inviting. Still, I abstained.

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I suppose my aversion to brown started at school. We wore a chocolate brown plaid pinafore, with a bright yellow skivvy and an itchy brown woollen jumper. The look was finished off with long milo-coloured  knee-high socks and brown leather shoes. Secondary school was much the same with an addition of a maroon tie and blazer. Brown for me meant rules, it meant regulations, reports, repression. Brown meant to blend in, to be the same. And it was for this reason that whenever I saw brown clothing years after leaving school, I didn’t want it anywhere near my body. I wanted to wear colour (any colour!) because it represented a whole world of possibilities, options, and choice.

Admittedly, the recent influx of browns by New Zealand designers has me softening my views on the earthy palette, and when my sister wore a Grecian-style Paris Georgia dress in the decadent hue I thought she looked incredible. ‘Just try it,’ she said later, placing it in my hand. I left it hanging on the back of my desk chair for weeks — eyeing it cautiously. Then one day when packing for a weekend away, I chucked it in my overnight bag. Perhaps it was the whim of being out of Auckland but that night I tried it on and looked in the mirror gently tugging at the sides. I slicked my hair back, and donned some ornate earrings. I looked and I looked trying to find some critique, but in spite of myself, I liked it. I felt good. I’ve worn that dress a few times since, each time liking it more. While I may not have made a full brown colour convert (just yet), I can appreciate the trend. And I’m open to adopting more of the hue into my wardrobe. Perhaps for me this year brown really will be the new black — but just don’t offer me the shade in anything woollen. 

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