There’s a certain type of man who’s afraid of brown shoes. I know because I used to be one of them. When it came to dress shoes, I thought I had everything I needed – Chelsea boots, cap-toe Oxfords, perforated brogues – but if you asked me why all of them were black, I’d probably have looked at you uncomfortably.
I thought wearing black shoes was playing it safe – that brown shoes would limit my options. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Yes, when you’re wearing a black suit, you should probably wear black shoes. But the fact is that, this example aside, brown shoes are just as versatile as black. Navy, charcoal gray, light gray, tan and ivory are all enhanced beautifully by a pair of brown shoes. A navy or a vibrant blue suit is actually one of the best brown shoe combinations out there.A common style fallacy is that brown shoes work best with lighter-colored suits like tan, light gray or ivory. You’ll see lots of men wearing brown shoes in the summer with lighter threads. It’s also a common belief that dark brown shoes should be paired with dark cloths while lighter-tone shoes should be left to colors like tan. The fact is that brown shoes, whether light or dark – even tan – add serious style to dark suits, especially when combined with a brown belt. (Check out the often-shared image below for proof that tan shoes really do work with a very dark suit.)
The only combination people seem unanimous in their condemnation of is a black suit and brown shoes. However, I hear the Italians like the look, so who knows?
Something you have to bear in mind when wearing brown shoes, especially more risqué combinations, is the “stand out” factor. A pair of tan shoes with a dark navy suit can look extremely elegant, but the contrast in color is striking. Not only is it bound to make you stand out, it will, in turn, invite people’s opinions. If there’s someone with less well-honed aesthetic senses who likes to have an opinion, he or she will easily leap to the conclusion that, just because the combination “stands out,” the colors must be clashing. This is precisely how false ideas about what colors should be worn together arise. It’s best to ignore such ignoramuses – but be warned!
Finally, check out A Suit That Fits co-founder, Warren, wearing tan shoes with a dark suit below!