How to Mix Navies


how to mix navies and which shoe colour to wear with navy pants


Thank you for your posts – I really enjoy them and find them useful.

I have a question about mixing the colour navy. I tend to wear a lot of (brighter) navy to work (can’t do black) but wonder about mixing different navy pieces, particularly plain navy pants and a jacket/cardigan not from the same set and so the shade is slightly different. All of my pieces were bought separately and I have read somewhere “never to mix navy” because the different shades don’t look right. But if wearing different shades of navy together looks strange what to do? Most of the time I wear it anyway. It’s usually when I wear a navy jacket with navy pants that I wonder, so I usually opt for a different colour jacket but then have to think of a top to wear with it and then I’m mixing 3 colours instead of two and it gets too complicated for me! I have got a couple of multi-coloured tops I love which have some navy in them so I tend to wear them to try and tie in the pants and jacket. In Brisbane for 8 months of the year I only carry the jacket around and don’t put it on because it’s too warm so I don’t want too many jackets/cardigans etc. I tend to invest in tops that stand alone with pants for work. Anyway to cut a long story short the weather here has cooled down enough that I actually need to put on a jacket at some stage (although tank tops underneath don’t work because at some stage I will need to take the jacket off when it gets too warm – perhaps a topic for another post).
Also, what colour shoes with navy pants? – I usually wear black. Brown doesn’t work and nude seems to stand out and is really hard to find anyway. I work in an industry where red shoes would probably not work.
I hope you can make sense of this hotch-potch of stuff!
Many thanks

How to Mix Navies

The key to mixing different shades of navy is to find ones that have some similarity particularly in undertone and also intensity.  Some are brighter and more intense, others are softer and more greyed down.  Some are warmer marine navies, others are cooler more violet navies.


Mixing Navy


You can mix some different navies, but the do need to relate to each other.  Similar intensity and undertone will help to make them work together.

Here I've mixed navies but they are all different fabrics

Different textures also helps, so a knit with a woven fabric we know they are not supposed to be a ‘suit’, but jacket and pants that are not a suit are harder to mix. Above I’ve mixed the navy denim, with navy pinstripe jacket and sheer navy top – all different navies but they work together as there is enough similarity, yet we know they are not supposed to be exactly the same as they are not part of a suit.

Using patterns can also make it easier to mix them, a linking piece with a pattern that includes navy will help you mix them more easily (and it will make it less noticeable)

Mixing patterns that include navy and the same alternate colour

Both navy pieces here are blue and white which creates the harmony.

Which Shoes to Match with Your Navy Pants

As far as shoes to go with your navy pants

what colour shoes to wear with navy


Black, deep brown and of course navy are all great if you want leg elongation and a column of colour.

If you want to make more of a statement try oxblood or came (camel is great if you are a blonde as it creates lovely visual grouping too)


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  • Navy and gray go great together. I often pair navy blazers with brown belts/shoes/pants. A touch of green/orange/yellow with a small piece of jewellery makes navy pop.

  • Its rare to see someone suggested navy and black together. I like brown and black together but for some reason found navy also a hard color for me to match especially when I like the “suit look” (the column). Imogen, do you ever heard of the phrase or rule “don’t mix two colors that are too similare”? Whats you theory about wearing them together?

    Because, thats where I started to avoid black and navy, unless it denim or a bright navy together. Ive a knee lenght pleated skirt in a deep navy like the circle one you showed along with a violet navy sheath dress but I don’t own any navy shoes that suitable for dressier conservative settings, because I believed black wouldn’t work. But perhaps I should consider it, because it would be a good alternative if a funeral showing up someday . (I own a black midi pencil skirt that I could wear to those occasions, but its so tight, so pairing a navy skirt with black low pumps should be better than this black one.lolz)

    • I meant. I always this type of rule and got “brainwashed” following it: “don’t wear black and navy together together, because its looks you got dressed in the dark, because they’re too similare”. (funny, a rule breaker who actually followed a silly rule).

  • Odd how we are so aware of the different shades of navy when there are equally as many shades of black. At least with multi shades of navy we don’t expect them to match and deal accordingly. Could someone have a quiet word with the black brigade? It rarely matches, doesn’t “go with” everything and often makes the wearer look dreadful. Loving all your outfits and ideas Imogen. You rock.

  • This is a wonderful topic; thanks!
    Do you have suggestions for when buying clothes online how to tell if they’re more likely to be warm navy or a cool navy? For instance, are there some descriptors that will indicate navy with some green, navy towards purple, navy that looks more blue than almost black?

  • I was having this same conversation with myself this morning with green clothes. I decided one shirt had too much yellow to go with the jacket I wanted to wear which had more blue in it. It was so confirming to read your article on the heels of this experience with my own closet. Thank you.

  • I love your blog! This post about matching navies is an eye-opener. I had never really thought about it before; I just know that you can’t mix different shades of black. Seeing the color within a color is a real talent, in my opinion. Therefore, I admire your talent.

    • Thanks Angie, colour can be learned! It takes practice, but like any skill, is one that is worth pursuing if you enjoy putting outfits together as it gives you so many more options.

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