The right dress shoes can make a costume. Just as easily, the wrong dress shoes can break one. Nothing can ruin a perfectly tailored suit and a well-chosen shirt and tie like the wrong shoes. Imagine the feeling of buying a brand new Ferrari and giving it the exact tires you just had with your Honda Civic; it’s the effect of having the wrong shoes with your costume.
No fear, however. This article presents the different colors of shoes that you can have in your closet and which are the best shoes for your suits. Remember, all menswear rules are meant to be broken, which means you may see others breaking what we tell you here. It’s basic; once you’re comfortable, you can and should push the limits and have fun with it.
There are three primary colors of dress shoes that you should become familiar with and three secondary colors. Primary colors should be the first ones you choose and perfect. They will complete all of your essential looks and let most outfits speak for themselves while acting more like complementary elements. You should invest in secondary colors once you’ve perfected the others. They will often be the centerpiece of an outfit, acting as a statement to an otherwise subtle outfit.
- Black – These are the most formal, and you should stay away from anything flashy. Basic and simple wins the day for your black dress shoes.
- Brown – These dress shoes should be your most comfortable. They will never go out of style, and if you’re investing in one of the more expensive brands, these are the ones you should go for.
- sunbathe – Beige dress shoes are similar to brown dress shoes in what you wear with them. They give a little more life to most outfits you wear than the other two options.
- ox blood – Many times these shoes are mistaken for brown. When you look closely at the color, there is a slight tint of red. These are also called bordeaux or cordovan.
- Grey – Gray dress shoes are a great way to dress up any outfit you would wear your black shoes with. While you can wear them with suits, they also work exceptionally well with denim.
- Blue – Guys like blue. You can bet we will if there’s a way to work the blue into any outfit. Blue dress shoes complement many outfits that would otherwise look boring. If you’re looking for a way to stand out, these are the ones for you.
Now on to the costumes to wear with these dress shoes.
Your black suit is your most formal. Because of this, you want to stick to black shoes. When you wear the black suit, you’re looking to focus on yourself and what you can do, not what you’re wearing. Therefore, pairing your black suit with your black shoes is a timeless classic that never goes out of style.
Flash it: Swap out your black shoes for gray dress shoes when you want to make a bigger impact. If you decide to do this, try to keep the shirt and tie on the lighter side (a white shirt with a gray tie would complement this dramatically). If you really want to make a statement, swap your black suit jacket with your beige jacket and create space for your beige dress shoes. This breaks the rule that you shouldn’t wear black and brown together. But if you do it right, you’ll be the star of the show.
Your charcoal suit serves as a less formal substitute for your black suit. It also gives you a lot more versatility. There is one rule you must follow regarding the shoes you wear with this particular costume. Before 6 p.m. wear brown shoes and after 6 p.m. wear black shoes. The idea behind this rule is that any event before 6 p.m. is less formal; therefore, your beige dress shoes will keep your look more appropriate for the office or lunch date. Anything after 6 p.m. is a more formal occasion and requires you to dress in the charcoal suit with your formal black shoes.
Flash it: Your blue dress shoes will shine if you pair them with the charcoal suit, blue shirt and tie ensemble. It is an upgraded version of the typical desktop look.
Blue is usually your office suit. If you’re like most men, this is the suit you’ll wear most of all. This is appropriate for the office, weddings or interviews. Due to the versatility and wide variety of events, shoes will make or break this costume. If you’re in the office, on an interview, or in any situation where the focus needs to be on your face, your brown shoes are the way to go. Beige shoes are king if you’re wearing this costume for a wedding, a night out, or something funnier. The contrast between your blue and your tan is about as sharp as it gets in your suit wardrobe.
Flash it: Speaking of contrast, this is your chance to break a rule. It used to be said that you wear black shoes with anything. This came out in the 90s, and brown was the shoes to wear. Now you can do either, as long as you have contrast. If you have a bright blue suit, black shoes can look great with the blue suit after 6 p.m. It’s best to stick to your browns if you have a navy blue suit. If your navy blue is too dark with your black shoes, it looks like you thought you were wearing black pants and you made a mistake.
The light gray suit is what I call the blank slate. Its light, neutral color allows for virtually any color combination your imagination can imagine. Darker colors make the suit more appropriate for events with a more formal dress code (although it would look out of place at a black tie event), while lighter color combinations lend themselves to your daytime and wedding events. Shoes follow similar rules – black shoes dress it up for late night events and date nights and brown shoes perfect for daytime weddings and the office.
Flash it: This costume is perfect for coordinating the color of your shoes. Your burgundy shoes complement reds, purples and pinks exceptionally well, while your blue and gray dress shoes complement your neutral colors.
The brown suit is perfect for the fall and winter seasons. While others typically stick to their charcoal and navy suits for the colder months, you can stand out and elevate your wardrobe with a seasonal staple. Your shoes also suit the season well. Your brown shoes will keep traditional outfits perfect for the office and more formal events, staying true to luxurious looks. Beige shoes are a modern update on the same looks, providing a contrast that allows the shoes to stand out and talk about the outfit.
Flash it: Jewel-toned shirt and tie combinations shine in the fall, and your burgundy and blue shoes complement these combinations and add a layer of detail that completes your outfit.
Unlike the brown suit which works in fall and winter, the beige suit is easily interchangeable for spring and summer. Usually working best with your combinations of white and pastel shirts and ties, this is the best Easter costume you’ll have in your wardrobe. In the spirit of similarity to its brown counterpart, the beige suit works exceptionally well with your brown and beige shoes. Your blue and burgundy shoes will complement pastels in the same way as jewel-toned shirts.
Flash it: If you’re thinking back to flashing the black suit with the beige shoes, a similar approach can work here. Swap out the beige jacket with your blue jacket and pair it with your blue shoes for a stellar (and somewhat nautical) look.
Olive suits are a bit dated, but have recently been upgraded to richer greens. Nowadays, everything from a brown suit with a hint of green to a forest green is labeled an olive suit. The easiest thing to remember with these suits is to treat them the same as your brown suit. Your brown and tan shoes will shine here, as well as your burgundy.
Flash it: One thing this suit has over brown is that black shoes can bring a level of formality. While brown and black are a bit of a fashion faux pas, the olive suit looks fantastic if done right. Beware of one danger – an olive suit with black shoes could drift pretty close to looking like an army uniform, so watch your shirt and tie combinations.
So. Now that you know which shoes you can wear with each costume in your wardrobe, you can start experimenting with combinations that will push your limits. Remember to familiarize yourself with your primaries first and then start expanding to the secondaries. One last thing to remember… have fun!