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How To Match A Shoe With Any Suit Color Matching Dress Shoes And Suits

by Rodger Kellaway (2019-07-28)

tino stocktwitsHow To Match A Shoe With Any Suit Color Matching Dress Shoes And Suits
The wrong shoes can ruin even your best suit.

So what are all the right combos?

Keep on reading to find out (and learn to master them).

blue suit brown shoesCategory #1: Navy Blue Suits
Compatible shoe colors:
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That's right – navy blue goes comfortably with all three of the main colors of quality men's shoes.

Why? Blues by nature can convey trust, wisdom, and responsibility. They give off a tranquil, calming effect when people encounter you.

Any touches of black, brown or burgundy tend to "blend in" well with a larger amount of blue – without being distracting. Leather Shoes for Men

That explains why companies incorporate some form of blue in their logo design. And interior designers often use a hint of blue in planning the layout of corporate offices. Blue seems to encourage productivity.

Since it's easy to coordinate a navy blue suit with most leather shoes – it's the safest option for attending a job interview. It'll help you look confident and level-headed right off the bat.

The only thing to remember is there are subtle ways in which the leather color affects the "attitude" of the entire outfit:

Black = formal, "getting down to business"
Brown = more relaxed or flexible
Oxblood/burgundy = more playful or creative

gray suitCategory #2: Light / Medium-Gray Suits
Compatible shoe colors:

Gray suits are less formal than navy blue suits, but they're equal in terms of flexibility. You can pair them effectively with all three shoe colors.

They're not ideal for proper business wear (since they're rather light). But they're actually fine in office setups where suits are worn with a "relaxed" dress code.

Specifically, for medium-gray suits – black would be the best choice for your shoes while wearing a white dress shirt with a tie.

Brown and burgundy shoes turn it into more of a casual/social look – and work best when the shirt has some sort of a pattern.
And then we have light gray suits, which work really well for spring/summer wear. The lighter the shade, the easier it is to apply patterns (such as checks or herringbone) into the suit – since they're more visible.

Light gray is also the most casual shade of gray – so you can use it to break up the monotony of the usual suit colors when you're attending parties or events during the warmer months.

charcoal suitCategory #3: Charcoal Gray Suits
Compatible shoe colors:


Here's the first "must avoid" to take note of: charcoal gray suits with brown shoes. The reason behind it isn't that clear-cut.

Charcoal gray is a color that's almost as versatile as navy blue – but it tends to add a little more maturity to the wearer (not "oldness" per se).

On the other hand, navy blue suits make a young man look even younger – which gives him the freedom to choose among all three shoe colors.

It's slightly different for charcoal gray suits. Brown leather shoes just don't match as well. It's because brown is naturally less formal than the other two – and the contrast created between brown and charcoal gray (which is similar to black) is quite stark.

Plain black shoes are the best choice in this case. However, a deep burgundy also does a great job for a charcoal gray suit that's "relaxed" but still classy overall.

what colors go with brownCategory #4: Brown Suits
Compatible shoe colors:


I know, you might be wondering why a brown-brown combination works. The truth is that brown suits go with most brown shoes.

You just need a visible difference between the shades of the shoe and the suit. If both browns appear identical, the whole thing will look off.

In general – it's better for the brown shoes to be darker than the brown suit (which helps keep the eye from being drawn downward).

But the single most important thing is a clear contrast. And that's what oxblood or burgundy shoes provide more easily.

And as mentioned in #3 – brown is considered less formal than its darker counterparts. So if a charcoal gray suit wouldn't go with brown shoes, neither would a brown suit go with black shoes. Those pairings "clash" a little too much (in terms of feel and perception).

Brown suits are traditionally seen as academic or casual. While this view was partly changed by former U.S. President Ronald Reagan (who wore these suits frequently), it doesn't reshape the general consensus on brown suits with black leather shoes. They never match.

black pants brown shoesCategory #5: Black Suits
Compatible shoe colors:


Based on the "must avoid" combinations in #3 and #4 – it makes sense why a pure black suit is the least flexible.
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Only pair a black suit with black shoes. Any other shoe color will look too casual with it.

And the reality is this outfit is NOT meant for regular use. You'll be saving it for:

Strict, business dress environments
Black-tie parties (or similar social functions)
The average man is better off owning charcoal gray or navy blue suits – since they're appropriate enough for most occasions. Lighter grays and browns are the next best options (depending on how casual an event is).
Now, are all these matching rules absolute? No – but they serve as a very safe guide overall.

If you feel like breaking these rules, do it because:

You're making a conscious decision – not because you're unaware of them!
You're aiming for a unique look (example: a rock singer might perform wearing a black suit together with burgundy shoes AND a burgundy tie – using color coordination)
There will always be exceptions depending on the place, celebration, people attending that event, or even your lifestyle or reputation. But there aren't that many, so you're more likely going to need classic combos that are proven to work. Let that chart be your #1 consultant.

Other Color Combinations
This article is built around the most common colors of men's suits and dress shoes.

Some guys may end up with different suit colors or types of footwear. And things get more complicated when they wear casual trousers (like jeans) with leather shoes – or suits with casual shoes (like canvas sneakers).

That's when you'll have to do some trial-and-error. The more casual the outfit, the less strict the rules. If it is "convention-defying" on purpose (such as the rockstar example earlier), don't sweat it too much.
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If it looks good in the mirror, go ahead with it. Don't debate about whether or not it's "right." Just bear in mind this rule of thumb: avoid things that are close – but not quite matching.