It doesn’t matter how well-tailored a suit is: pairing the wrong color shoes is the easiest way to ruin the whole look. The worst part is how easy of a blunder it is to make. For some reason, most men just don’t have that innate color sense to just know what colors go together. As an extension of that, many men get bogged down by the so-called “rules” of coordinating.
That’s why above everything else you should remember one thing: dress in whatever makes you feel confident. But if you are the stylish type of guy who takes the necessary steps to go bespoke, you may feel a little more confident with some guidelines to validate your sartorial choices. Fortunately there are a few guidelines to learn that can help steer you in the right direction.
Black is a neutral, so it can go with anything… right?
Not exactly! Despite the fact that it is one of the most basic colors we wear, black is not the universal option for every suit. In general, wearing black shoes means your look is going to lean towards the formal. They look super clean with a blue or grey suit. And of course you can always do black on black. These pairings are always safe, office appropriate choices.
However that is about the extent of safe choices of suit colors to pair with black leather shoes. If your suit is any shade of brown, from khaki to chocolate, black shoes are typically a frowned-upon choice. Stemming from the old sing-song rule “black and brown make a frown,” pairing the two neutrals ironically clashes.
Nowadays, fashion mavericks are breaking that old rule. Don’t be surprised if you see a younger guy rocking a caramel colored suit with black shoes, belt, and a coordinating shirt. If you want to try a similar look, we say go for it! Just maybe stick to such sartorial experimentation for a more casual setting and not, say, a big interview.
Ah, the safest choice of all. Good ol’ brown Italian leather shoes belong in every man’s closet. With the exception of black (see above), they go with just about every color of suit. However if you pair them with some colors, know that it is going to be a more casual look than if you go noir.
The only tricky thing about brown shoes is the variety of shades available. If your suit is on the darker side (think navy or charcoal), maybe don’t pair with caramel colored oxfords. When you are creating an ensemble, you want everything to feel harmonious. Going with something light and casual like is going to look odd with a dark, serious suit.
It’s not a secret: we love oxblood leather shoes. But when it comes down to it, when you choose oxblood you are without a doubt wearing red shoes. On paper, that’s a very bold choice.
However, oxblood shoes are more modest than you might think. In fact, they are almost as versatile as brown. They are not as traditional, but they look just as polished with a grey, khaki, or blue suit. Again, in the same vein as brown: maybe steer away from wearing these when you are approaching a formal dress situation.
About alternative colors…
The world is not black and white… or, rather, black and brown. There are a plethora of colors out there for you to choose. The fact is, before you go head first into the rainbow you need to have a pair of each black, brown, and oxblood shoes in your closet. Once you are comfortable matching these necessities with your suits, you will have the confidence to go forward with other more adventurous colors.
Until you are ready for that, pick out the perfect pairs of handmade Italian leather shoes in the classic colors you need. We have some great options for you here.