Matching Dress Shoes With Suits – How To Match A Shoe With Any Suit Color [NEW Chart]


Black shoes and a black suit work great if you’re going to a funeral, but most of the time we’re a little more colorful in our wardrobes.

How does a man wearing a navy, light-grey, or brown suit match his shoes with the suit color?

That’s what this article is about!


Take a moment to get to know the following chart.

It pairs the five most common suit colors — navy, medium or mid-gray, charcoal, brown, and black — with three different shoes to show you which colors work with which leathers.

shoes with suit color


Now, are these shoe matching rules absolute?

Not entirely — but it’s a very safe guide to follow.

If you’re bucking the advice here, it should be because you’re going for a really unique look or you know the rules and make a conscious decision to ignore them!

For example, we don’t have the burgundy shoes paired with a black suit. But a rocker might wear a black suit with red Converse All-Stars, and that would be, if not exactly timeless men’s style, certainly a style choice that could work.


There are going to be exceptions.

But there aren’t many of them, and if you’re sticking to classic business and business-casual dress, let this chart be your guide.


Most of the time it’s not too hard.

Strict business formality is easy — a charcoal gray or navy blue suit and plain black shoes.

But as the suits (and the business climate) become more relaxed, you get the option of wearing different colors of leather with them. That’s a stumbling block for a lot of men — and the wrong color of shoes and belt can ruin even a fine suit.


Here’s how most of these combinations play out in practical, day-to-day dress:

1. Navy Blue Suits


Pair with:

  • Black shoes
  • Brown shoes
  • Red or burgundy shoes

Navy can go comfortably with all three of the main color families of men’s leather shoes. You can probably even make a navy suit work with more exotic colors if you have them, although blue is generally too close to make a good contrast.

The leather color mostly affects the formality and attitude of a navy suit. Black shoes are business dress, while brown are more relaxed, and red or burgundy give it the most playful, social feel.


2. Medium And Light Gray Suits

16-1-lPair with:

  • Black shoes
  • Brown shoes
  • Red or burgundy shoes

Medium gray suits are less formal than navy suits, and share a similar flexibility. You can pair them effectively with just about any color of leather.

In the case of medium gray, black is the best option when you’re wearing a white shirt and a necktie. It’s still not proper business dress (the suit itself is too light), but it’s quite typical in offices where suits are mandatory but somewhat relaxed. Brown and burgundy shoes make it more of a casual/social look, and work best when the shirt has a bit of pattern or color to it as well.

A Man's Guide To Style

3. Brown Suits

16-21-lPair with:

  • Brown shoes
  • Red or burgundy shoes

Do not pair with:

  • Black shoes

Take a caveat here — brown suits work with most brown shoes. You want a visible contrast between the color of the shoe leather and the color of the suit. If they’re identical or almost-identical, it looks off.

Apart from that, brown’s great with most casual leather shoes. It’s generally better to have the shoe leather darker than the suit (helps keep the eye from being drawn downward), but either way can work so long as you have a clear contrast.


4. Charcoal Grey Suits

16-3-lPair with:

  • Black shoes
  • Burgundy shoes

Do not pair with:

  • Brown shoes

Here’s where we get to our first firm “no” on the list: don’t pair charcoal suits with brown shoes.

Dark browns look like you’re trying for a close match and coming up short. Light browns are too informal, and draw the eye jarringly downward. Plain black works best, or a deep burgundy for a look that’s relaxed but still elegant.


5. Black Suits

16-6-lPair with:

  • Black shoes

Do not pair with:

  • Brown shoes
  • Burgundy shoes

Black’s not very flexible. That’s why we generally recommend charcoal gray or navy blue in its place as a first suit. If you own one, pair it with black shoes, and save the outfit for funerals and strict business dress occasions.

Any other color of shoe is going to look too casual with black.


Other Colors

The chart at the top is built around the most common colors of suit and leather dress shoes.

You’ll probably end up with more colors of suit/trouser than just those five, and more colors of shoe than those three. That especially gets true once you start wearing leather shoes with casual trousers (like jeans), or dress suits with casual shoes (like canvas sneakers).

Experiment and find out what works for you. The more casual the outfit, the less strict the rules, so if you’re doing something deliberately convention-defying (like the rocker example we used at the start), don’t sweat it too much. If it looks good in the mirror, go with it, and don’t worry whether it’s “right” or not.

As with all colors, the most important thing to remember is to avoid things that are close but not quite matching. Those are the worst-looking clashes — it looks like you tried for a unified outfit and screwed it up a little. Keep the contrast clear and you should be fine.


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