Fashion Tips

How to Match Your Shoes to Your Suit

Do you spend too much time in front of the mirror every morning trying to decide which shoes look best with your suit? We’ve put together this style guide to help you know the fashion do’s and don’t’s when it comes to this common men's style faux pas:

mens style guide the kater shop

 

1. Navy Blue Suits


Pair with:

Black shoes

Brown shoes

Red or burgundy shoes

Navy can go comfortably with all three of the main color families of men’s leather shoes.


You can probably even make a navy suit work with more exotic colors if you have them, although blue is generally too close to make a good contrast. The leather color mostly affects the formality and attitude of a navy suit. Black shoes are business dress, while brown are more relaxed, and red or burgundy give it the most playful, social feel.


2. Medium And Light Gray Suits


Pair with:

Black shoes

Brown shoes

Red or burgundy shoes


Medium gray suits are less formal than navy suits, and share a similar flexibility. You can pair them effectively with just about any color of leather. In the case of medium gray, black is the best option when you’re wearing a white shirt and a necktie. It’s still not proper business dress (the suit itself is too light), but it’s quite typical in offices where suits are mandatory but somewhat relaxed. Brown and burgundy shoes make it more of a casual/social look, and work best when the shirt has a bit of pattern or color to it as well.


3. Brown Suits


Pair with:

Brown shoes

Red or burgundy shoes


Do not pair with:

Black shoes


Brown suits work with most brown shoes. You want a visible contrast between the color of the shoe leather and the color of the suit. If they’re identical or almost-identical, it looks off.


Apart from that, brown’s great with most casual leather shoes. It’s generally better to have the shoe leather darker than the suit (helps keep the eye from being drawn downward), but either way can work so long as you have a clear contrast.


4. Charcoal Grey Suits


Pair with:

Black shoes

Burgundy shoes


Do not pair with:

Brown shoes


Here’s where we get to our first firm “no” on the list: don’t pair charcoal suits with brown shoes.


Dark browns look like you’re trying for a close match and coming up short. Light browns are too informal, and draw the eye jarringly downward. Plain black works best, or a deep burgundy for a look that’s relaxed but still elegant.


5. Black Suits


Pair with:

Black shoes


Do not pair with:

Brown shoes

Burgundy shoes


Black’s not very flexible. That’s why we generally recommend charcoal gray or navy blue in its place as a first suit. If you own one, pair it with black shoes, and save the outfit for funerals and strict business dress occasions. Any other color of shoe is going to look too casual with black.


Other Colors


The chart at the top is built around the most common colors of suit and leather dress shoes.


You’ll probably end up with more colors of suit/trouser than just those five, and more colors of shoe than those three. That especially gets true once you start wearing leather shoes with casual trousers (like jeans), or dress suits with casual shoes (like canvas sneakers).


Experiment and find out what works for you. The more casual the outfit, the less strict the rules, so if you’re doing something deliberately convention-defying (like the rocker example we used at the start), don’t sweat it too much. If it looks good in the mirror, go with it, and don’t worry whether it’s “right” or not.


As with all colors, the most important thing to remember is to avoid things that are close but not quite matching. Those are the worst-looking clashes — it looks like you tried for a unified outfit and screwed it up a little. Keep the contrast clear and you should be fine.

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