Matching shoes with your outfit is kind of key. Here are some guidelines to make the process simple. We’re here to make sure you don’t mess up.
1. Black Is Best With Darker Colors
Black shoes tend to go best with, well, more black. They’re a great shoe for wearing with a black or charcoal gray suit--just make sure to add a pop of color with other accessories. Despite what the rules of fashion dictate, you can wear black shoes with blue pants or a blue suit, particularly navy. The combination is best done when you can incorporate more black into the outfit with another accessory, like a belt or tie.
You can also wear black shoes with certain colors of slacks or jeans. Black pairs well with red, wine-colored, and gray pants. Black shoes with jeans are great, as long as the jeans are on the darker side. Black shoes with light jeans are kinda 90s, so good idea to avoid.
2. Brown Goes with (Almost) Everything
Brown dress shoes will match with just about any color of pants or suit--except black. Brown dress shoes also don’t pair well with charcoal gray suits; they come off looking too informal.
However, brown shoes will work well with a navy or lighter gray suit. You can even wear brown shoes with a brown suit. Just make sure there’s enough of a contrast between the shoes and the pants. A cognac shoe looks amazing with a blue suit, for example. They’re also great for wearing with a pair of blue jeans. As for other colors of jeans and slacks, again, brown works well with just about any color besides black. It matches best with earth tones, like green, olive, and tan.
I recommend owning brown dress shoes in a few varying shades. The darker the brown, the more formal the shoe. Save the sleek and shiny dark brown shoes for dressier occasions, but keep a couple of varied lighter shades on hand for everyday office wear or for going out on the weekend.
3. Try Other Colors
Chances are, you probably own at least two or three pairs of black and brown dress shoes. You can get by on building a wardrobe with just those shoes, but other colors can add a bold statement to an outfit without making you feel ridiculous.
If you’re ready to move out of the comfort zone of brown and black, I recommend buying a pair or two of dress shoes in a darker shade of red, like oxblood or burgundy. These colors will still match with a variety of outfits, but add a bold pop of color. Oxblood is a deep brown-red, while burgundy mixes dark red and purple to appear more wine-colored. They’re great for putting together a fall/winter look.
Both colors pair well with navy, charcoal gray, lighter gray, and brown suits. Though you shouldn’t wear them with a full black suit, they will match with black dress pants and a nice button-down.
4. Match with Your Other Accessories
If you want your dress shoes to work with an outfit, it’s best to try and match your other accessories with them. (See our guide to matching accessories here.) Instead of presenting a cohesive whole, your outfit will come across as a collection of contrasting elements if you don’t work to match your accessories. For example, do not pair brown shoes with a black belt, or vice versa. Even spaced apart from each other, the colors will clash.