What to wear with navy blue pants

9 years ago

Kat is having a classic summer fashion dilemma: she bought a pair of navy blue pants, and now she's not sure what to wear them with. She's wondering about tops and shoes, in particular, and is worried that she will wind up wearing the same things over and over.

Not a chance. Navy pants are a terrific alternative to jeans, particularly for summer; they are crisp and chic and available in fabrics that won't cause you to die of heat exhaustion when the temperatures start to rise. And while navy is classic, it can also be a little edgy, depending on what you pair it with.

Despite all that, though, navy blue is always the neutral that stumps people the most, perhaps because it feels the least like a neutral and the most like a color itself, which brings up worries about what to pair with it. Navy pants also feel like more of a commitment than jeans because they are proper trousers and thus seem to require more effort than jeans.

Neither of those things is true, you know. Navy is a perfect neutral foil for all sorts of colors, and navy pants can be just as versatile as jeans. You just have to keep a few things in mind.

Kat has two basic dilemmas here: she needs to know what colors are good with navy, and what shoe to pair with her pants. Navy works with essentially everything; navy pants are great with a white shirt, of course, or with a blue shirt in a different shade (powder blue or violet blue). For a more dramatic contrast, Kat can think about bright pink or tangerine or a sage green. Her best bet is peices with a blue or orange undertone; think about the color wheel, where blue is opposite orange, and choose shades that either play off the navy or contrast it.

Really, though, the options are endless.

When Kat thinks about shoes, she wants to pay more attention to the structure of the pants, rather than the color of the shoe (at least for starters). Navy pants tend to be structured differently from jeans, because the fabric (linen, cotton, three-season wool) is lighter and more fluid than denim. This means that a pair of navy trousers, even in a traditional boot cut, will hang differently than a pair of jeans. Shoes that work well with the structure of your jeans may not work as well with navy pants. Consider the shape of the pants -- are the legs wide or skinny? cropped or full-length? Look for a shoe that balances the shape of the trousers, rather than a shoe that matches the color. A wide-leg trouser works well with a gladiator sandal, for example, while a cropped length is good with a ballet flat or thong sandal.

Trisha at Omiru has suggestions for spicing up a too-basic closet (including a pair of navy pants).

Eva at Papier.Blog has found the perfect summer sandal to wear with your navy pants.

Finally, because I am STILL obsessing over my makeup situation, a quiz: Is your makeup bag a mess?

Pants available at the Gap.

Susan Wagner writes about style at Fashion Find and The Working Closet, and about everything else at Friday Playdate. She is wearing navy blue cropped pants RIGHT NOW! With a white eyelet shirt and orange sandals, in case you care.

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