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Wear Shoes That Make Your Suit Look Better

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When you live in the world of men’s suits like we do around Black Lapel, it’s easy to get tunnel vision and see men’s suits as the true marker of style. But every once in a while, we see a guy absolutely killing it in a straightforward getup that would look ho-hum on a less stylish guy, and we are reminded that it is not just men’s suits that define their look, but men’s ability to combine their suits with other items. One of the most important combinations is how well a man combines his suits and shoes.

Rule of thumb: Keep It in The Family

If the suit is in the brown color family (anything from dark brown, to caramel brown, to medium tan, to light khaki) brown shoes are the way to go. If the suit is in black, black shoes are appropriate. Every other color of suit is subject to your style choice. When in doubt, go with brown.

Brown Custom Suit, Tobacco Brown Linen Blend Custom Suit,Khaki Linen Blend Custom Suit

Brown shoes are a must with suits like this (from L to R) Charcoal Brown with Blue Overcheck Custom Suit, Tobacco Brown Linen Blend Custom Suit and Khaki Linen Blend Custom Suit all by Black Lapel.

That leaves you with a lot of options. Men’s suits come in a plethora of colors and patterns. And brown shoes alone come in a range of shades and tints, to say nothing of the choices of other colors like oxblood and even exotic choices like blue and green.

A great combination of a suit and a pair of shoes can truly make your look. Here are some of our favorite suits paired with some different shoe options, one safe, one more interesting. Take a look, inspiration awaits…

Charcoal Gray Custom Suit

Charcoal Gray Custom Suit

A dark suit like a charcoal may automatically say “black shoes” when you look at it, but notice how the reddish tones really bring the fabric to life. Bonus points: the dark gray laces in these oxblood brogues really bring the whole look together.

Light Blue Linen Blend Custom Suit

Light Blue Linen Blend Custom Suit

The blue suit, brown shoes combination is a sure winner. (We’ve all seen navy and dark brown in action.) But when the suit lightens up, so should the shoes. By pairing light blues with lighter tan leather, the suit’s color really stands forward.

Charcoal Brown with Blue Overcheck Custom Suit

Charcoal Brown with Blue Overcheck
Custom Suit

This suit is stylish enough to stand out when paired with medium brown shoes, but to pull out the hints of blue in the pattern, pull off the ultimate style move and rock a pair of navy blue shoes.

Gramercy Gray Birdseye Custom Suit

Gramercy Gray Birdseye Custom Suit

Here’s a great example of bending the rules to your will. Despite the dark buttons on the jacket, this suit’s light shade offers you the opportunity to wear your lightest brown shoes, like these Cognac toned ones. To truly balance out your gray suit, brown shoes look, finish off the look with a bronze colored tie for a cohesive, yet unexpected combo.

For more suggestions on men’s suit and shoe combinations, email a Black Lapel stylist at concierge@blacklapel.com.

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45 thoughts on “Wear Shoes That Make Your Suit Look Better”

  1. Jose Rodriguez says:

    I plan on purchasing this light blue suit: https://us.asos.com/asos-design/asos-design-wedding-super-skinny-suit-in-ice-blue-micro-texture/grp/20758?clr=blue

    I know you said light brown shoes are the way to go. What color tie and belt do you recommend?

    1. Jose,

      To be honest, a light gray tie such as that on the model is a great choice with a light blue suit, or you can work in a darker blue tie which also creates a nice contrast. It is a great way to add contrast and pairs well with light brown shoes as we suggest. As far as choosing a belt, it’s always a good (and easy) idea to pair the belt to your shoes, so, a light brown leather belt would round this outfit out well.

  2. Hello and thank you for this great article.
    I have a dark grey suit (close to charcoal) and i’ll be wearing it with a light pink shirt and a more deep pink tie.
    Will some oxblood shoes do a good combination or shoud I be more conservative and go for the black shoes.

    Thank you in advance.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Leo,

      Sounds like a potentially stellar look! More men should wear pink, it’s a good combo! With the shoes, we would suggest you stick to a more conservative black shoe. You don’t want to overdo it, especially when you want the attention focused on your pink shirt and tie.

  3. Charcoal suit, oxblood boots & belt. What color shirt & tie would you recommed?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Hey Ryan!

      You’re off to a good start. Nice job matching the boots and the belt! There’s a ton of shirt and tie combinations that can work with this. You’ve got a dark, brooding gray suit, so you’re going to want to make sure the shirt is lighter. You can go light blue, light purple, really most lights will work. After that, the tie is easy. If you need matching guidance with ties and shirts, this is a good read. If you go with a light blue shirt, a dark blue or charcoal tie would be killer.

  4. How would a chocolate brown shoes with a grey suit look?

    1. That’s a safe move. Just make sure any other leather in your outfit is brown, too.

  5. Prakhar Mishra says:

    I got a deep purple suit with slight matte texture and I’m wondering if my dark brown loafers would be a good match with it. If not, what shoes should I pair with the suit?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Certainly. Take note of how we’ve styled our own deep purple/burgundy suit here: https://blacklapel.com/shop/suits/deep-burgundy-saxony-custom-suit/

  6. I have some black , brown, and burgundy/oxblood shoes, but was looking at some blue dress shoes. I was wondering what color suit would blue shoes go well with for going out. mind you , this isn’t for office/work, strictly for going out. Also, would a dark brown shoes go well with a charcoal grey suit or a lighter grey suit?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Blue dress shoes are tough to pull off, so we recommend a pair of navy suede or leather dress shoes. You can pair blue dress shoes with a dark brown suit, like this one, or a blue suit that offers some contrast against the color of the suit (this is harder to pull off). As for your question about wearing brown shoes with a gray suit, those will look better with a either shade of gray suit that you mentioned.

      1. what about blue shoes with a pair of burgundy or red slacks/ chinos( or any other color pants for that matter)? And if paired with a sports coat, would the color of the coat matter ?

        1. Black Lapel says:

          You’re starting to cross into dangerous territory now, Chris. Don’t push it on the blue shoes—they aren’t that practical or versatile, just interesting when paired with a tasteful brown or blue suit.

  7. I am going to a friend’s party. Have to wear a suit. I plan on wearing a charcoal suit, white shirt, navy blue tie. What color shoes should I wear? I want something more interesting than black. Thanks

    1. Black Lapel says:

      You could get away with dark brown leather dress shoes here. However, if you’re trying to look more interesting for your friend’s party, you might want to direct your attention to your suit and tie combination instead of your shoes. This outfit sounds more like something we’d recommend to an interview so, depending on the context surrounding the party, have a little more fun with it. That could mean: going sans tie or wearing a bow tie, wearing a patterned dress shirt, adding a exciting pocket square to the jacket, etc. Loosen up!

  8. jaskaran kapoor says:

    i am going to wear sky blue suit with dark blue waistcoat and dark blue bow. please suggest which colour shoe will make statement.

    1. That upper body stuff really makes little difference when it comes to your shoes, but since that’s all we’ve got to work with, we recommend you take a look at the buttons on that waistcoat and pair the shoes to them. If the buttons are dark brown, dark brown shoes will generally work. If they’re light brown, lighter brown shoes ought to do the trick. Black buttons? Try black shoes.

      1. jaskaran kapoor says:

        waistcoat buttons are of dark blue colour

        1. Black Lapel says:

          There’s your answer, then. What?, you say, blue shoes?!. Yes, blue shoes like the in the second to last photo of this article would definitely be a cool way to go. If not, dark brown is a good, if predictable, choice.

  9. This site is really helpful but my choice is not on the list. This question is for my upcoming wedding. Can you give me an advise if what color of shoes and belt will go with my dark maroon tuxedo with black shawl lapel in it?

    1. The key word here, Nicc, is tuxedo. When you’re wearing a black tie outfit (usually a tuxedo) you’re playing by a certain set of rules that are pretty strict but quite straightforward. For the most part, when you’re in black tie means you should wear black shoes.

      The other part of the question was about the belt, but tuxedos should not be worn with belts. This is such a hard and fast rule that a proper pair or formal tuxedo pants don’t come with belt loops. Still, this is a black tie rule that plenty of ornery commenters on this very site love to argue with us about, so to head it off at the pass we’ll point to the folks at GQ who say “no belt loops!” or Art of Manliness who say tuxedo pants “will be worn with suspenders (‘braces’ in the UK), and should not have belt loops, ” or any number of other black tie experts. Suffice it to say, we don’t make the rules, we’re just reporting them.

      Now get out there and knock ’em dead, Nicc.

  10. Pranav Vakil says:

    What color shoes would you recommend for Cobalt Blue Tux? Black or Brown?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      That’s an easy one…never wear a tuxedo with brown shoes. Black shoes are the norm. With a blue tux, blue shoes can work, but that’s it. Brown is definitely a no-no with a tux.

  11. What is the best suit that would pair well with a pair of Carrucci emerald green dress shoes?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      It’s tough to imagine a situation where a pair of emerald green dress shoes are not going to utterly overpower your whole outfit, steamrolling any suit you pair them with. We recommend proceeding with extreme caution before busting out a pair of emerald green shoes.

      That said, pairing these shoes with anything but the most subdued suit is like boarding the express train to Tacky Town. Keep things simple with a suit fabric in a shade that complements the shoes, like a medium gray or blue. Whatever you do, do NOT wear it with anything even remotely patterned or striped. The key to going out on a limb with your shoes is staying close to the tree truck with just about everything else.

  12. What color suit will go with a red Cornwallis dress oxford ?I’ve hears that style and color will go with most suits.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Oxford shoes are definitely the most versatile. They’re at home with a suit as well as more casual looks. As we showed in the first example at the top of the page, we like Oxblood (that’s the shade of red that men’s shoes usually come in) oxfords with a charcoal gray suit.

      That’s not the only suit oxblood shoes work with. You’ll see that we pair them with everything from straightforward navy suits to stronger plaids.

  13. You guys are the pros, so I think I”m in the right place.
    My boyfriend bought himself a pair of cognac colored shoes, to go with dark blue suit. Now he is in doubt what kind of belt goes with it. ( he has a black and a dark brown belt- and thinks about buying a cognac colored one) Depending on what shirt he is wearing underneath…. Can you maybe give me some suggestions?!?
    Thaaaanks in advance

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Generally speaking, a man’s belt leather and shoe leather should match. That means a black belt is definitely out. The dark brown belt will do, but ultimately a cognac colored belt is the way to go.

      Finding an exact match can be tricky, but BeltCraft makes a nice cognac belt that can be customized or, for a non-customized version, try an Allen-Edmonds walnut colored belt.

      Again, don’t sweat it if it’s not a perfect match. For the time being, wearing the dark brown belt is fine, but for the long run, these cognac options will do the trick.

  14. You guys sound like you
    know what you’re talking about!! Therefore I was wondering if you could tell me what colour shoes I should wear with a dark purple 3 piece suit. I’m a bit dark kinda tan if you will maybe that helps.. Thanks in advance :)

    1. We don’t have a dark purple suit in our collection (yet) but we have seen them well styled in the pages of GQ a while back. Playing off of the eggplant tones in the suit, they paired the suit with a pair of icy blue socks and a pair of richly toned brown double-monk strap shoes with a burnished toe. The end result was seriously stylish. Here’s how it came off.

      Pairing shoes with non-traditional colored suits can be daunting but, as we noted in our article about wearing a black shirt, usually you’ll want to wear simple, accessories with standout colors to keep the whole look balanced. Didn’t see that article when we published it? Don’t miss another bit of intel from the style team here at Black Lapel. Subscribe to The Compass.

    1. Dre, this suit is very similar to the Light Blue Linen Suit we showed you in the second example above. As stated, the interesting shoe color choice would be a medium to light tan. If you don’t want to make a statement with your shoes, the safer choice would be dark brown.

  15. What would you recommend for a grey linen suit?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      We styled our own gray linen blend suit with brown shoes like this. That’s just one way to go, though. Black, light brown, oxblood, even blue shoes can all work with gray suits. When in doubt, follow the buttons. If the buttons are black, go with black shoes. If they’re light brown, go with light brown shoes, etc.

  16. politie in beeld says:

    It’s hard to come by knowledgeable people on this topic, however, you sound like you
    know what you’re talking about! Thanks

    1. That was the insipiration. There’s not much out there about suit and shoe combinations, so decided to fill the gap in knowledge. Glad we could be helpful.

  17. Just curious what shoes that guy is wearing with the charcoal gray suit? And where I could find them?

    1. You can find them at Paul Evans.

  18. What kind of shoes are those and where can I get a pair.
    Please elaborate on the shoes in the picture above.
    Thank you in advance

    1. Please elaborate on which pair you’re talking about and then I’ll be happy to direct you to them!

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