A shot of cognac with an olive on the side

I love the colour cognac for accessories and garments. Nearly everyone is flattered by its rich, saturated hue, and it's surprisingly neutral. Cognac leavens black's depth, takes the starch out of navy, lifts ivories from quiet to interesting.

More classic than metallics, far easier to maintain than pales and not limited by season, cognac or olive is the secret weapon if you're traveling or don't want to house an arsenal of accessories.

I don't know why they're so hard to find, but I tracked down several examples.

The French Sole Zeppa is cognac, in a snake-print suede, a hard to find colour in a shoe,  It's on a very low wedge, with a padded footbed and rubber sole. Price, $135 from Zappos. Also comes in pink, black and beige.
J.Crew hobo

J. Crew's distressed-leather Bronwyn hobo shows cognac's casual side. Also made in a pursette, if you prefer a small bag. Price, $268.

Crocolux Mini-Me
Speaking of small! This bijoux Italian crocodile wallet bag is a chic option to the fanny pack– the pricey accessory worn with everday basics is a favourite stylist's trick. Just enough to carry keys, credit card, bills and change...your window-shopping kit. In cognac (as well as many other colours); price, $610 from Crocolux.
Cognac perforated leather jacket

Tory Burch's Daniel leather jacket: supple, pocketed and miles ahead of a me-too moto. Price, $725 from Bloomingdale's. Because it's unlined, you could wear it as an indoor piece in cold climates. The rich, warm hue de-toughens leather and looks even better as it ages.
The other secret weapon is olive, sometimes called khaki and many other names, is in the same spirit: rich-looking, interesting, a bit offbeat. These are not the colours I'd pick for the tropics, but when navigating grotty airports, sticky buses or packed subways, they're wonderful.
Bompard suede jacket

Here it is in a melting suede jacket from Eric Bompard, a wonderful transitional piece that I'd spray like crazy if there is even a thought of rain. Price, 440 €.

Pilar platform heel

J. Crew's Pilar peep-toe packs cutaway style into a platform heel, most fetching in olive. Price, $250.

Himalayan green sandals

Flats lovers can find green in a shade J. Crew call himalayan, in a more-graceful gladiator; $148.
Brora summerweight wool scarf

Brora call the green in their pretty wool floral stripe scarf "lizard". Whatever; I see it as the ideal plane and cool-night piece, a gentle but not insipid palette. Price, £69.

In the hottest sun destinations, it's whites and brights, as the natives know. But for those traveling in temperate to merely warm zones, these two colours keep your bag light and your style breezy. And when the seasons or your locale shifts, they will continue to work wonders in your wardrobe.


Susan B said…
Oh, you're speaking my language! These are two of my favorite colors. I wonder if that Bompard jacket could be worn without the belt...

J.Crew has a lot of beautiful cognac bags this season.
Frugal Scholar said…
Beautiful colors, though not great on me. BTW, at your suggestion, we just bought some cognac to leave for our hosts. Thanks.
SewingLibrarian said…
I've always thought of that cognac color as "luggage." But, of course, luggage isn't that color any more! Now it's any color under the sun. My parents had "luggage"-colored leather luggage when I was growing up. It's a lovely color for leather goods.
LPC said…
I'm with Deja Pseu! Two of my favorite colors too. I have a Marc Jacobs bag in a very light cognac - have used it very rarely but it's just so pretty. And olive came in second only to navy in my corporate trouser wardrobe colors.
Angel Jem said…
I never usually wear either of these colours, I'm a red girl and usually team my favourite 'notice me' tops with black..... but this passage of praise has me wondering whether cognac might not be a better colour to pair with my red passion. You have me dithering.
Anonymous said…
As a redhead, both of these colors are wonderful for me. Thank you for reminding me that fall is coming! Tricia
Susan Tiner said…
Wow. Thank you for describing the effect of these two gorgeous colors on other colors.

Sadly, most stylish women's shoes, like the Frech Sole Zeppa shoes pictured, don't come in wide sizes.

I would totally splurge on some gorgeous shoes if I could find some that fit well. I wear a perfect men's size 7 and have been thinking of purchasing some stylish men's shoes as an alternative.
MJ said…
I was just thinking yesterday how I needed to replace my 10-year-or-more-old light brown flats that I was wearing. I have now ordered the French Sole shoes from Zappos. I am not at all sure about the tag that sticks out of the back seam, however; I will likely end up cutting that off.
Duchesse said…
une feme: I suspect there sre belt loops but you could e-mail them to ask.

Frugal: I am not sure who cannot wear cognac on the feet, but olive is harder.

Sewing: yes, it was a luggage colour when luggage was leather. I keep my shawls in an old leather suitcase this colour.

LPC: Wonder why you'd use it rarely? Olive is a great "businessy" colour, more unusual than navy but still discreet.

Angel Jem: I have not worn a single red article of clothing for probably 12 years, most are too harsh for me. If I did wear red I would pair it with a rich grey but not black. I can absolutely love a red dress on a woman but it's not my style.

Anonymous: As a redhead, I gravitate toward them, as well as mid-saturated blues.

Susan Tiner: Wide feet are a shoe-shopping challenge- men's shoes seem like a smart option especially now that brogues and loafers are favourites of many women.

MJ: I like French Soles; hope they fit you. Ten years is a good long wear!
Rubi said…
Olive doesn't look great on me, but I do like cognac -- it's a nice foil to black, which I've got a lot of. Will have to see about adding a pencil skirt in that color to the mix for fall. Toasty-khaki is also good for casual -- with white or black. (I just can't bring myself to do navy. Too much of it as a blonde kid, I think.)
Tiffany said…
I'm echoing Pseu here - also two of my favourite colours. Those J Crew heels are just divine ... And I really need a new handbag.
RoseAG said…
I really like the suede jacket. Happily the price is in Euros so I don't even have to think about what it costs!
Kristen said…
I adore both cognac and olive, and do not have nearly enough of it in my closet. Thank you for the reminder.
Beautiful colors and textures. Love the Brora scarf, and discovered their wonderful website through the link. Thanks for the inspiration, I'm now counting down the days till fall...
Duchesse said…
Rubi: I like navy with black or olive; just bought my first navy item in years, a fine cotton v-neck tee.

Tiffany: I would say, with one to your name, it might be time for a bag :)

RoseAG: Visit enough web sites and your mind just does it automatically- for better or worse.

Kristin: Welcome! I am on the hunt for a cognac leather pencil skirt.

Sue/the view: Very pleased to her that; that's what the Passage is for: finding great resources for grown women.
Mardel said…
Olive and cognac are two of my favorite colors for accessories. I cannot wear them next to my face, but find that both go well with several colors I do wear, including navy.

The little croc purse looks just like an ancient Ferragamo microfiber bag, same size and shape, that I have worn to death over the course of many years. The croc is a little jazzier. Given how much I have used my small bags, it is probably a reasonable indulgence.

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