Those expensive shoes you never wear…
They just don't work.
They're wrong color for EVERYTHING…
Know which ones I'm talking about?
If not, consider yourself lucky!
Read this before it happens to you.
And if you relate… read this so it won't happen again.
Today, the two titans of men's shoe colors are going toe-to-toe. In the brown corner, we've got tan, cognac, chestnut, chocolate – and in the black corner we've got the one and only black.
What are the BEST choices for men's dress shoes when you're looking to build your interchangeable wardrobe? In today's article, I'll be pitting black shoes against brown shoes over 5 tough rounds so that you can make the right decision when it comes to spending good money on shoes.
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Now let's get into it – are black shoes about to give brown shoes a kicking? Or are brown shoes going to stomp all over black?
Black is the most formal of all shoe colors out there. Any shoe in black is going to be more formal than the same style of shoe in brown.
Certain dress codes, such as black tie, require black shoes. If you attend black tie events often, or you're going to be wearing a dark gray suit, then you probably want to go with black shoes.
Brown is never going to be as formal as black – but it has a lot of advantages over black. Why? Because you've got a lot more options when it comes down to the casual side. The lighter the brown is, the more casual it's going to be. So tan is really casual. Medium brown can be dressed up for work or down for the weekend. Dark brown is the most formal shade.
So which are the best men's dress shoes when it comes to formality? It depends on your personal needs. If you wear black tie often, you need to go with black shoes. If you're usually in more casual environments, consider brown.
Do you have a lot of cool tones in your wardrobe? Are a lot of your leather accessories (bags, watch straps, belts) in black? Are your suits all shades of gray or black? If so, you're probably going to want to go with black shoes. It's going to work best with what's already in your wardrobe and the colors that you naturally gravitate towards.
On the other hand, are you partial to blue suits? True blue, maybe a paler blue, hopefully at least one suit in navy blue? Maybe you're partial to olive green chinos or dark brown pants? If these are the colors you're naturally drawn to – it means you prefer warmer tones (yes – blue is on the warmer side when it comes to suits). In this case, brown shoes are going to work the best.
So which are the best men's dress shoes when it comes to matching your existing wardrobe? Again – it depends on what you already have in your closet.
This has been a very even fight so far – but now black is on the ropes. Black is WEAK in this area.
Black shoes are formal. They're not something that you really want to dress down. I hate to break it to you, gents, but wearing black shoes with jeans is generally not a good look. I've seen a few guys pull it off, but I wouldn't recommend it.
When it comes to brown, you have a lot of choices. I could wear brown two-tone oxfords with a business suit, a casual suit, odd trousers, or a sports jacket. I might not wear them with jeans, but I could wear tan brogues with jeans and that would look great. I could also dress up the tan brogues with a casual suit.
Brown has many more options than black when it comes to dressing down. You can mix it with countless trouser and shirt fabrics. And then there are shoes like these fantastic two-tone brogues in brown leather and blue suede. Again – you can dress these shoes up or down.
So when it comes to versatility, brown shoes are easily the best men's dress shoes. They're KICKING black shoes right in the…tongue.
When it comes to black, most of the style options are going to be more formal styles. Why?
As we learned in round 1, black is the most formal color. So it makes sense that black dominates the market in smart styles like wholecuts, oxfords, and the variations of oxfords.
You also see black in boots. I wore black boots in the military – they worked very well then and they still do, especially black Chelsea boots.
But when it comes to a lot of other styles – especially the more casual styles – black starts to lose ground to brown. Because of brown's informal nature and the wide variety of shades it comes in, brown is going to look better on more casual shoe styles, like loafers, boat shoes, and monk straps. It has a natural advantage over black here.
Now I know some of you guys are thinking, “Antonio, I love black shoes, I'm a black shoe man. But I want some other options when it comes to casual wear.” In that case, I want you to look at some shoes in oxblood and maroon. These colors are a great alternative to black if a lot of your existing wardrobe goes better with black shoes than brown ones.
So which are the best men's dress shoes when it comes to style options? I'm going to have to give the win to brown. Can black come back from this onslaught?
Black shoes are pretty easy to take care of. They can get a little scuffed and dirty – but you simply take a brush, clean them off, use some black polish and you are good to go. Once every week or two, use a moisturizer on the leather to remineralize it and make it softer. Use that polish consistently and you'll keep your black shoes looking good for years.
It's not always the same for brown shoes. The fact that they come in so many shades is a slight problem here – especially for lighter shades. Any polish you buy is unlikely to match brown shoes exactly and you run the risk of darkening the leather.
When you're trying a new polish or wax on a brown shoe, test it on the tongue where no one will see it. Also see if you can find out what the manufacturer recommends for your particular shoes. A lot of manufacturers have products you can buy directly from them to apply to your shoes.
So which are the best men's dress shoes when it comes to maintenance? Black shoes are making a plucky last-minute comeback…
But when I tally things up, even with two draws it looks like the brown shoes have still won 4-3 .
BEST MEN'S DRESS SHOES – BROWN SHOES.
In all fairness, this wasn't really a contest, gentlemen. It was about giving you the information you need to make the right buying decision for you. If you're going to go out there and spend your hard-earned money on a pair of shoes, you want something that's going to work with the majority of the clothing in your wardrobe. You want something that makes you feel like a million bucks.
Ace Marks offer exactly that – amazing shoes at a fair price. They've also got all the shoe care products you need – polishes to match your brown shoes, brushes, and shoe trees that are made specifically to go into these shoes. They've got you covered.