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Brown skirts at first glance may seem dowdy, boring and, when longer, way too matronly. You'd be surprised though, at how classy and understatedly chic they can look when paired with the right tops and accessories. Just a tad more informal and lighter than black, brown is a neutral shade that can often work well for those occasions when you want to look classic, but still unexpected. Take a look at some fashionable ladies who work all shades and styles of brown, whether they're partying it up at an outdoor concert or posing on the red carpet.
Check out Anne Hathaway at a special screening of "Love and Other Drugs" hosted by the Bachmann-Strauss Dystonia & Parkinson Foundation in 2010. She wore a flared, pleated ankle-length brown leather Ferragamo skirt with a loose, long-sleeved white silk blouse tucked in, nude, pointed-toe chain-strap stilettos, and bold, bright red lips. The earthy tones in her ensemble made her look anything but overdone -- not to mention very "prairie-chic" -- but was still dressy enough for a semi-formal event. Her skirt was so dark that it looked almost black, but the fact that it was brown subtly warmed up her entire look -- making her pale skin and brownish-gold hair absolutely radiant.
For an outfit that looks great and works outdoors in cooler seasons, take a glance at fashion house Salvatore Ferragamo's Fall 2010 show, where a model donned a chocolate brown, pleated skirt -- essentially the same one Hathaway rocked -- that fell several inches below the knee. With it, she wore scrunched suede, pale gray boots that disappeared under the skirt (lengthening her silhouette, since they didn't cut her off at the leg), a colorful buckled belt, a pocketed, buttoned black shirt tucked in with the cuffs rolled up and a gray fedora with black accent. The textures and hues that composed this outfit made it an absolutely gorgeous look for fall. Though the colors were all essentially neutrals (gray, black, brown), they were so richly saturated that the ensemble looked incredibly expensive and very distinctive.
Diane Kruger looked breezy chic at 2011's Coachella music festival in Indio, California. Along with a light brown (almost beige), billowy cotton skirt that just skimmed the grass, she wore a loose black cotton tank, layered multi-length turquoise-pendant necklaces and a camel-brown skinny belt. A basic look that was anything but fussy or high-maintenance, Kruger made it her own with her colorful necklaces and a straw fedora. Not only did she look supremely comfortable and appropriate for the weather and occasion, she also looked incredibly happy, with a sure smile on her face -- which we all know is the best thing to wear with any item of clothing.
There are lots of outfits composed mainly of brown skirts out there, including many skirts on the shorter side. It just so happens that the examples set by outfits with shorter brown skirts can still work for their longer counterparts. A model in Lanvin's Spring 2011 show wore a mid-length brown skirt with a hot pink top decorated with a metallic butterfly right below the neck. You can easily transition this look by replacing the shorter skirt with another one that's much longer (like a floor-trailing silk-linen brown maxi), but as similar in tone as possible. Color works with brown, contrary to what you may think, but just stick with one. Especially when it's time for spring and summer, a bright pop of lemon yellow, cobalt blue or neon fuchsia can make you look fun yet sophisticated.