top of page
  • Writer's picturesallyinstpaul

Rust Color Combos: Black / Cream / Olive

I enjoyed Bettye's recent post on this topic over at Fashion Schlub, so I thought I'd put my own spin on the "what colors can I wear with rust, the prototypical fall fashion color?" question.

Rather than staying completely theoretical, I decided to ground these ideas in colors and items from my own closet. I think of rust as a color I have hardly any of, yet when I start digging into my wardrobe, I have more rust pieces than I thought! For outfit examples, first I looked at my OOTD photos for combinations I've made with rust items (past and present). Then I did a search through my "planned outfits" document for outfits including rust. Finally, I put together some new "planned outfits" based on my current rust items.

Let's get started with the first three combinations that Bettye reviewed.


Other than those amazingly disciplined women who cultivate a wardrobe around a tight color palette that doesn't include black (all 47 or so of them in the world), we all have at least some black items in our closets, whether this color suits us well or not. Why not warm up some of your black garments with the addition of rust?

Maybe Outfit #1 should have been categorized below under BLACK + CREAM, but I put it here because black is the unifying color (or non-color) of the outfit. You could put almost any color of pants into this simple outfit and have it work, depending on whether it completely clashed with the floral ballet flats. Rust is one of the many colors in the flats (though that's not obvious at a distance), so these rust pants work well. I like to wear rust as pants because it's not a great color near my face, but wearing it on the bottom is a more forgiving choice.

Outfit #1

Rust pants - CJ Banks - 24W - $12.00 - 9/2020

Outfit #2 is a black and white base look that could be jazzed up with almost any color of vest. I really liked the combination of stark smooth black legs, crisp textured white skirt, marled black-and-white sweater (that almost looks grey), and soft white on black rabbit print scarf. Even without any color, there is a lot of interest from this mix of textures and fabrics. The rust is a rather unexpected color pop here, but I think it looks great.

Outfit #2

Rust quilted vest - Croft & Barrow/Kohls - 2X - $16.74 - 12/2019

In Outfit #3, the orange detail on the puffin sweater (you can just barely make out his orange foot if you look for it) was the inspiration for wearing the rust vest. I added an orange and black lion charm necklace to add another dose of "zoological" print to the look and extend the orange/rust theme. The sweater is mostly a pale warm grey that works surprisingly well with rust.

Outfit #3

Outfit #4 is a "start with a scarf" outfit, built around an unusual and rich color scheme with a combination of warm and cool tones. Rust and black were pulled from that palette, and dark wash blue jeans were added as a goes-with-anything neutral. The cheetah print oxfords echo the imperfect oval shapes of the scarf.

Outfit #4

Because I didn't have an OOTD that was the most straightforward combination of black and rust, I put together Outfit #5 as a possible "in the spirit of Halloween without wearing a costume" business casual work outfit. This look would 100% work with coral/orange pants instead, but I think the rust is a nice, rich variation. I like the repetition of gold and black to create cohesion, and the leopard print smoking slippers add a fun "double cat" element to the look. ("Triple cat," really, because I think of this necklace as a feline "tooth/claw" necklace.)

Outfit #5

Outfit #6 is one of my previously-planned-not-yet-worn fall weekend outfits that uses a black + cream + rust color scheme. The various shades of coral in the cheetah scarf blend beautifully with the rust vest. I was quite surprised to see that I'd planned this outfit to wear with these taupe-brown suede smoking slippers since there is none of that color elsewhere in the outfit! But I do like them with black jeans for some reason. The shoes are definitely the "free to vary" piece in this ensemble.

Outfit #6


Two of the outfits above have already given you a feel for the rust + cream combination, but here is some more inspiration using these two colors that go together so well because of their shared warm feel. And if your cream is white instead, that will work, too!

Going through my OOTD photos, I came across this layered necklace worn with a cream striped shirt and a knit tank in "coral glaze," which is simply a soft rust color by another name. (This tank was one of those one-off purchases I made because it was such a good price, but it's turned out to be a great accompaniment to this striped shirt. Wearing another layer over it makes it easier for me to wear the color near my face.) I like the mix of metallics in this look: silver, gold, gunmetal, bronze, and rose gold.

Outfit #7

Coral glaze tank - CJ Banks - 3X - $5.99 - 12/2020

A cream pullover sweater and rust quilted vest is a combination that can be worn a lot of ways, but in Outfit #8, it was the floral skirt that inspired the look. The silky cheetah print scarf adds in some beige/tan/camel/brown tones that don't exist elsewhere in the outfit but that fill the range from the cream sweater to the brown tights and boots, which I think of as being "in the span" of the colors of the outfit.

Outfit #8

Outfit #9 is a previously-planned outfit that also relies on the cream sweater + rust vest + brown tights and boots combination but is quite different from Outfit #8. For cold work Fridays, I like to wear a denim skirt/tights/tall boots with a multi-layered shirt/pullover sweater/vest/scarf on top. It's interesting seeing how this outfit looks when I put the pieces together because most of these planned outfits are based on a combination of recollection and notes in my inventory spreadsheets, not from putting the actual items next to each other. I actually quite like how the various shades of sandstone, orange, rust, and brown come together here.

Outfit #9

I put Outfit #10 together specifically for this post when I realized that I was mostly featuring cold weather looks. But many people live in climates where a short-sleeved T, long pants, and closed toe shoes is the right level of warmth for fall, and even in Minnesota, some years I am itching to start wearing the colors of autumn well before the weather turns. And even though rust is most associated with the fall season, there is no reason it can't be worn year-round! (I mean, I will happily eat a pumpkin muffin any day of the year.) This T has a lovely range of corals, oranges, and maroons in a watercolor-like floral print that looks great against the white background. I couldn't resist using gold metallics again across the accessories, and of course my growing stash of DIY bead stretch bracelets provides ample arm candy.

Outfit #10


Rust and olive are both stereotypical autumn colors, so it feels natural to put them together. But I have definitely done less in this area than I have in the black and cream combinations opportunity for further exploration!

Outfit #11 is such a fall outfit, isn't it? All I need is a pumpkin spice latte in my hand to complete the look (no, I don't drink PSL). This one was inspired by the T that includes the olive/aloe vera, rust, brown, and tan-gold/cream colors in the woodland critters print. I definitely think of combining colors based on their presence in a print piece in the outfit as the easiest way to try a new color combination.

Outfit #11

I created Outfit #12 for this post based on that same "print piece that bridges a color combination" model...and on the exact same print, actually! I have the woodland critters print in a silky scarf as well as the T. A solid olive sweater would work well here too, but I liked the idea of the olive-and-cream striped one for some low-key print mixing with the scarf (which I'm imagining as a headband) and earrings.

Outfit #12

Outfit #13 is another outfit I created for this post, this time with the idea of wearing the rust quilted vest over a column of olive. I knew I wanted the cheetah print oxfords because I liked them so well in Outfit #4, and I thought I'd incorporate a different set of olive earrings this time (they have silver findings instead of gold or bronze, so that's a "free to vary" element in this outfit). As I went digging (electronically) through my scarf collection, I came across this floral one with both rust and green in it, and when I put it into the image, Boom, we have a winner! I think a solid black, cream, tan, or white scarf would look pretty great here, but this floral scarf that bridges the rust and olive colors is right up my alley. As is my wont, I put in a long pendant necklace to pair with the infinity scarf...a cute owl watch that relates strongly to the shoes in color and shape.

Outfit #13

I am quite happy with both of these rust + olive outfits! Overall, I created four new rust outfits that I can add to my list of pre-planned outfits, which is great because this is not a color I have worn much at all historically. But with a knit tank, cotton pants, and a quilted vest currently in my wardrobe, I have rust garments to cover all seasons of the year.

Do you wear rust? What pieces do you have? Is it a fall color only for you or do you wear it in a variety of seasons?

In my next Rust Color Combo post, we will look at my two favorite neutrals to wear with rust!

I link up with:

Nike at Life as a LEO Wife (Sundays)

Shelbee at Shelbee on the Edge (Mondays; 3rd Thursday)

Michelle at My Bijou Life (Mondays, Fridays)

Mica at Away from the Blue (Mondays)

Debbie at My Random Musings (Mondays)

Leelo at Beauty by Miss L (Mondays)

Roxanne at Glass of Glam (Mondays)

Claire at Claire Justine (Mon, Wed, Fri)

Laura at I Do deClaire (Tuesdays)

Emma at Style Splash (Tuesdays)

Jess at Elegantly Dressed & Stylish (Tuesdays)

Gail at Is This Mutton? (Wednesdays)

Shelly at The Queen in Between (Wednesdays)

Jodie at Jodie's Touch of Style (3rd Thursday)

Carrie at Curly Crafty Mom (Thursdays)

Ada at Elegance and Mommyhood (Thursdays)

Jacqui at Mummabstylish (Thursdays)

Nicole at High Latitude Style (Thursdays)

Suzy at The Grey Brunette (Fridays)

Nancy at Nancy's Fashion Style (Fridays)

Erika at A Little Bit of Everything (Fridays)

Lucy at Lucy Bertoldi (Fridays)

Kimberly at Being a Wordsmith (Fridays)

Rena at Fine Whatever (Saturdays)


Oct 03, 2021

these are such great ideas! Rust is a wonderful pop of colour and I like to wear it year round. I have a few rust-ish pieces in my wardrobe. More amber than rust really, but I find it such and easy colour to wear and it works with so much! With reds and burgundies has been my fave so far, and of course it works well with blue :) Your rust vest looks particularly great!

Thank you for joining the #WeekdayWearLinkup! Hope you have had a lovely weekend :)

Oct 04, 2021
Replying to

Thanks for the red & burgundy suggestions...I'm not sure I would have thought of those combinations!


Oct 03, 2021

I love the way the rust pops in all of these outfits!


Oct 04, 2021
Replying to

Haha, glad we are figuring this out together!


Kimberly Myers
Kimberly Myers
Sep 29, 2021

I don't have that much as well, I think I only have 3-5 pieces and majority of them are pants, hahaha. I'm loving your rust vest though <3

Sep 29, 2021
Replying to

Haha, I was pretty happy to realize that I'd managed to spread my three rust garments across item types and seasons. I definitely know that "majority of them are X" feeling well!


jodie filogomo
jodie filogomo
Sep 27, 2021

You do have quite a bit of rust, and I think it's on the verge of brown, so it tends to go with everything. I only have maybe 3 items. But I'm going to get creative with it now. XOXO Jodie

Sep 27, 2021
Replying to

I would love to see what you do with rust, Jodie! Your adventurous color combos are always an inspiration.

bottom of page