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


matching dress shoes and suit

Business dress is more relaxed now. Gone are the days when you had to wear black shoes.

But now you’ve got more options… you’ve also got more chances of screwing up.

Pairing your suit with the wrong color dress shoes can completely ruin your look. At best, you’ll look sloppy. At worst, you’ll look incompetent.

So what are the right combos? In this article, we show you how to perfectly match your dress shoes and suits.

You will find out:

#1 What Color Shoes Go With A Navy Blue Suit?

man wearing navy blue suit

Compatible shoe colors:

  • Black
  • Brown
  • Oxblood/burgundy
black, brown and burgundy dress shoes

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.

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

#2 What Color Shoes Go With A Gray Suit?

man wearing cambridge medium grey suit

Compatible shoe colors:

  • Black
  • Brown
  • Oxblood/burgundy
black, brown and burgundy dress shoes

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 a casual/social look – and work best when the shirt has some 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.

#3 What Color Shoes Go With A Charcoal Suit?

man wearing charcoal grey suit

Compatible shoe colors:


black and burgundy dress shoes to wear with charcoal suit

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, giving him the freedom to choose among all three shoe colors.

It’s slightly different for charcoal gray suits. Brown leather shoes 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.

#4: What Color Shoes Go With A Brown Suit?

man wearing brown suit

Compatible shoe colors:


brown and burgundy dress shoes to wear with brown suit

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

You 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 consensus on brown suits with black leather shoes. They never match.

#5 What Color Shoes Go With A Black Suit?

man wearing a black suit

Compatible shoe colors:


black dress shoes to wear with black suit

Based on the “must avoid” combinations in #3 and #4 – it makes sense why a pure black suit is the least flexible.

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:

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).

Here’s a summary of the five categories of suits and matching shoe colors:

shoes with a suit infographic

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 Suit And Shoe 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.

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.

Keep the contrast clear, and you’re likely to pull off anything that’s original or experimental.

  1. What Color Shoes Go With A Navy Blue Suit?
  2. What Color Shoes Go With A Gray Suit?
  3. What Color Shoes Go With A Charcoal Suit?
  4. What Color Shoes Go With A Brown Suit?
  5. What Color Shoes Go With A Black Suit?
  6. Other Suit And Shoe Color Combinations

What to read next? Click here to discover my ultimate guide to wearing suede shoes.

Click below to watch the video – How To Match Shoes With A Suit In 2 Minutes!


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