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Matching Your Belt and Shoes — The Right Way

manw earing white pants with brown blazers and brown loafers

A brown belt with a black shoe? Think again. There are some rules that MUST be followed when we’re talking about matching belts and shoes. If you’re in the dark, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered

Matching Your Belt And Shoes

You can have a pair of elegant, brown leather boots, or a pair of black Chelsea boots — heck, even a pair of brown double monk straps. None of that matters if you’re not matching your outfit accordingly.

Let’s address the elephant in the room. You guys are here because you want to know if there’s ever a time you can get away with wearing a brown belt with black shoes, or vice versa. To answer plainly: you should not wear a brown belt with black shoes, or a black belt with brown shoes. To better understand that logic, you have to ask yourself a simpler question…

Does Brown and Black Match?

This serves as the age-old question in the world of men’s fashion. So, does brown and black really match? When it comes to matching brown pants and black shoes, it can work, but when it comes to your belt and shoes, we advise against wearing brown and black together, end of question.

Matching Belt and Shoe Leathers

Before we get into how to create a winning shoes and belt combo, we should talk about criminal leather matchups. The severity of the crime-against-leathers is based on the situation. For example, if you’re at a black tie event, and you choose to wear a black belt with an almond-brown shoe, you’re going to create conflict (wearing any belt with a tuxedo is grounds for dismissal from the guys-who-have-a-clue-about-formal-dressing club). The result is the attention being pulled away from your snazzy suit, and instead on the contradicting leather combination you’re trying to pull off.

man wearing blue check dress pants with oxblood belt and oxblood oxfords

This oxblood belt and shoe combo plays well with the maroon tie and the faint red check in the suit pants seen above.

man wearing gray dress pants with brown leather belt and brown oxfords

The unexpected brown leather of this belt and pair of shoes matches so well that it stands out in the outfit.

man wearing dark gray pants with black leather belt and black oxfords

Black on black is an easy way to match your belt and shoes, so adding a patterned navy tie spices it up.

However, if you like to channel your inner Orwellian and believe uniformity is a bit hair-raising, there are some ways to spin in some variety. You can play around with the texture of leather instead of changing the colors. This will create the range you are looking for, without sticking out like a sore thumb.

man wearing white pants and brown linen blazers with braided leather belt and brown suede loafers

See how well a braided leather belt and suede shoes can work together? Texture is your friend.

Let’s play devil’s advocate for a second. For instance, if you’re rockin’ a more played down, business casual look like a blazer and chinos, you can play around with the idea of wearing a dark brown belt with a medium-brown shoe. A casual, unguarded look doesn’t need to be as serious as a suit and tie ensemble.

man wearing blue blazer with pink shirt and tan pants with brown leather belt and brown penny loafers

Different shades of brown are a sophisticated way to have your shoes and belt match.

Matching Belt and Shoes and Bag

There’s more leather in an outfit than just the belt and shoe. In the world of men’s accessories, a leather bag is an attractive addition that some men overlook. For example, this bag by Stuart & Lau fulfills both a utility need as well as adding to your aesthetic. Make sure to keep our rule of thumb in mind and match the black leather on the bag with a black shoe and belt combo.

man wearing black blazers with dark denim holding an olive bag with black belt and black oxfords

As we said before, black on black is a winning combination for all of the leathers you’re rocking.

man wearing light blue blazers with white pants and leather braided belt and brown tassel loafers

Pulling off three different color leathers in an outfit may look expert level, but it’s easy if you stick to one color (brown, in this case).

Bringin’ It Home

You’ve brushed up on our rules for matching your belt and shoes, now it’s time to implement them. If the world of men’s accessories is still at a level of uncertainty for you, leave a comment for us below.

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15 thoughts on “Matching Your Belt and Shoes — The Right Way”

  1. Michael says:

    I have a black tie wedding to attend. I don’t have a tux and am looking to wear a nice black suit with double monk strap oxblood shoes. I fell wearing a oxblood belt would break up the suit. Do I go red or black belt, no belt, suspenders maybe??

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  5. Charlie says:

    How about the buckle? Brass vs stainless steel? When should one opt for one over the other? I have an event coming up where I’m going to wear a navy blue suit with a yellow/gold and blue tie, and I plan on wearing brown shoes and a brown belt. What kind of buckle should I wear?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      You should attempt to match the buckle to any other metals in your outfit. For example, if you’re wearing a stainless steel or silver watch, it’s smart to wear a matching silver belt buckle. Generally, brass/gold matches better with brown belts and especially if there are gold accessories in the rest of the outfit.

  6. Adekunle says:

    I am a beginner here and would like to know how to go about matching my Red Suede shoes with a particular color of belts. Which other friendly color goes with a red suede?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Red suede shoes don’t sound very beginner to us 😉

      Anyways, you have two main options here: a brown belt or an oxblood belt. (For reference, you can see an oxblood belt and shoe combination earlier in this post.) As for the brown belt, medium to dark brown matches well with red. Stay away from the light brown belt—they tend to look cheap and dated. The more advanced move is wearing an oxblood belt. Make sure the shade of the belt is dark and compliments your shoes instead of standing out.

  7. Eugene Jordan says:

    I would like to see how pick my clothing, im basically a beginner at dressing more sophisticated and i wanna know how to match my colors of blazers with my shirts and even more, what type of shirt to wear with what pants and shoes and type of shoe….see im jus lost!!!

    1. Black Lapel says:

      It can be tricky, trying to match every item of clothes you have to everything else in your outfit. You may wonder how anyone makes time for all the work, looking at fabrics every time they get dressed. Don’t these people have things to do and places to go? How do they so seemingly effortlessly match their shirts to their jackets and pants every time they get dressed?

      We’ll let you in on a secret, though, Eugene. Well-dressed men don’t spend much time trying to match their clothes to each other because that’s not what makes their outfits so great. They focus on building a wardrobe of clothes that match them and those clothes, by default, make great color pairings. We call that dressing from the inside out and it’s an essential part of looking good, that’s why we devoted a whole article to it. We’ll also recommend that you check out our articles on picking shirt colors and picking suit colors for detailed guidance on building a wardrobe that matches you.

      Of course, if you subscribe to The Compass, you’ll get articles like these and plenty more style advice, every week for free.

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