What Colour Shoes Should You Wear With Your Suit?

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What Colour Shoes Should You Wear With Your Suit?

Words by Mr Tom M Ford

18 August 2016

The MR PORTER guide to selecting the right footwear to match your tailoring.

Depending on your dedication to clothing, we suspect you often find yourself wondering, alongside things like “what’s the meaning of it all?” and “why is Ms Kim Kardashian so famous?”, just how exactly you should match the colour of your suit with your shoes. This is likely because of one of two scenarios. Maybe you own a suit for every day of the week and a pair of shoes for every day of the month. This variety – instead of creating choice, flexibility and ease – has, as per the 2004 book by American psychologist Mr Barry Schwartz, The Paradox Of Choice: Why Less Is More, simply caused anxiety and confusion. Alternatively, maybe you are less of a tailoring and dress shoes kind of chap. Perhaps a suit is more of a “needs must” kind of thing and you only wear one a few times a year. But when you do, knowing which colour shoes to slip on with said suit is an extra worry you could do without.

Fear not because, though it’s not really within the purview of The Daily to address your grander existential worries, we’re more than capable of advising on how to match your footwear with your tailoring, and consequently have put together the following guide. With modern trends and style rules (or lack of) – there are potentially infinitesimal shades of suits and shoes. So for the sake of everyone’s sanity, we have dealt with the most popular examples.

As a general rule, you should wear shoes that are as least as dark as your suit. Black is so dark that it isn’t even, strictly speaking, a colour and it absorbs all other colours of the visible spectrum. So if we stay within our afformentioned guidelines, this one’s rather easy – ie, just wear black shoes, and black shoes only. NB: black suits aren’t necessarily a good day-to-day style – so we wouldn’t advise them for the office. They’re best for formal or eveningwear.

Navy suits are by their nature far more versatile than black ones. So much so that if you had to buy only one suit in any colour, it would probably be a deep blue one. Navy suits are your friend. And they go well with most colours of shoes, too. But in our view, they go best with variations on dark, rich browns. If you’re a snappily dressed businessman or you want to feel a little smarter, you may well swear by black shoes with your navy suit, to show off your mastery of the ever-tricky combination. It depends entirely on how formal you wish to be. But, whatever the occasion, avoid tan like the plague.

In comparison to black, grey can claim to be an actual colour and is therefore slightly more forgiving in suit form when it comes to finding shoes to match. However, we would suggest that black shoes are once again your most reliable option in terms of achieving a harmonious look. If your grey suit is on the lighter side, however, you have a little more flexibility and a deep brown tone, or even a more interesting burgundy will work perfectly well.

Charcoal suits lie somewhere between black and grey in terms their versatility where your footwear is concerned. Black shoes will give your appearance a polished, smart feel and are probably the safest bet. But you can also dabble with very dark brown shoes, or as with a grey suit, perhaps a burgundy colour should you want to convey a more relaxed vibe.

“Never wear brown in town” goes the old adage. But that’s just what it is – an old and outdated idea. In fact, not only can you wear brown in town – you can also wear brown on brown in town. Indeed, brown shoes go well with brown suits – but just make sure they are different shades. To return to our cardinal rule: the darker the suit, the darker the shoe. If your suit is light enough, a tan coloured shoe might work well. Note that black should be avoided at all costs.