Usually lots of fun.
“My purse, nails and stilettos are the same yummy shade of lilac!”
Quite often a real pain.
I get questions all the time from guys in desperate need of advice on matching.
Want in on a little secret, gentlemen?
It's not that hard.
In fact, it's really quite simple as long as you remember a few basic rules.
The best part?
You're also free to bend (or break!) these rules when they don't work for you.
This especially applies to matching your belt with your leather footwear.
In this article, I'll discuss the basic rules on how to match your belt and shoes, as well as how and when to disregard those rules and still look great.
As I mentioned above, the rules for matching your belt and leather shoes are pretty simple.
In fact, there are really only two rules!
This rule couldn't be simpler. Lucky you! In general, the more contrast there is between your belt strap and your shoes (or even briefcase or messenger bag), the less stylish you're going to look.
If you've got a dark brown belt strap, the most logical choice for shoes would be dark brown ones. If your shoes have a distinct oxblood color, then an oxblood belt strap is the way to go.
Nevertheless, don't worry too much about a slight difference in the tones of both items. It's not a big deal if, for example, your dress shoes are darker in the front than at the back. As long as they're closely similar in color, you got the job done.
This post was brought to you by Anson Belt interchangeable belts.
I've worked with this company for over 8 years. I've always been impressed by their innovative micro-adjustable belts and belt system. Here’s what makes these belts a fantastic tool for stylish men today:
- Belts do NOT require holes (they can be adjusted by every 1/4 inch).
- They're designed as trim-to-fit, so you only need scissors to cut off excess material.
- Buckles & straps have similar widths (1.25/1.5 inches), which makes them easy to interchange to suit different outfits.
- No bends or tears in the material for a long time.
Anson currently offers a Box Set for $99.95. For under a hundred bucks, you'll get either (A) 3 buckles + 2 straps or (B) 3 straps + 2 buckles. This gives you a total of 6 possible belt combinations. It's an awesome deal if you want to add more variety to your wardrobe.
Matching Rule #2 – Match The Metals.
Essentially the same concept as above. You want the belt buckle to have a very similar color to the metal on your shoes if they have metal. Specifically, we are talking about the buckles on monk strap shoes.
Gold goes with gold, silver with silver, etc. You might even want to take it a step further by matching these buckles to the metal in your other jewelry, in particular your watch or whatever rings you're wearing.
A notable exception: your wedding ring, which it's perfectly acceptable to keep on at all times.
Don't let matching make you discard sentimental or irreplaceable items, such as your wedding ring or an heirloom watch. Again, the real priority here is matching the leathers, as mentioned in rule #1.
Is that all there is to it, you ask? Seriously? Doesn't this mean that matching your shoes and belt is really a non-issue? For the most part, yes. But it's actually more complicated when you bring in this question:
Do I always have to match my shoes with my belt EXACTLY?
The two “rules” above aren't terribly strict. There's no shame in bending or breaking them when you know how and have stylish intent.
This is where it helps to answer some of the FAQs about matching that men ask me. Some of the answers may surprise you – or give you a different perspective on certain colors and combinations.
Here they are…
No. It's best not to try this combo at all. If you check the color wheel, you'll see that brown is technically a warm tone (e.g. a variant of red) whereas black is classified as a cool color.
Black leather shoes are usually sleek and classy-looking, which is why they're most deserving of a black belt strap. Black-black is the most formal shoe-belt pairing. It'll sharpen your style more the next time you're sporting a charcoal gray suit.
Since people usually notice your shoes more than your belt, you might get away with ditching the belt altogether if you're wearing a suit jacket, sports coat or blazer. It's certainly a better last-minute solution than purchasing a new belt just for tonight's outfit. Just make sure your trousers fit well enough to stay secure without a belt on.
Matching Question #2: Can You Wear Different Shades Of Brown?
Yes. You might have a pair of light brown dress shoes and think they'll clash with your chocolate brown belt. Except they're both shades of brown. It's even less of a problem if your shoes are the kind where the heel and sole have a darker color than the upper. Therefore, there's still a sense of good matching involved if the belt and the bottom of your shoes share a similar tone.
Matching Question #3: What Belt Do You Wear With Black Or Gray Shoes?
Gray belt + black shoes, black/gray/dark blue belt + gray shoes. Since black and gray are essentially non-colors, they generally match better with cooler tones than warmer ones.
Matching Question #4: What Belt Do You Wear With Oxblood Shoes?
An oxblood belt. Even though oxblood can pass for a type of brown to some of us, there's a redness to it that makes the shoes more distinct and attention-grabbing than brown ones. Hence, only an oxblood belt strap will maintain the balance here. Having both brown and oxblood in a single outfit can cause it to appear just a bit too “busy.”
Matching Question #5: What Belt Do You Wear With Two-Tone Shoes?
A belt with the dominant/stronger tone. You don't have to obsess over finding a perfect-matching belt with the exact two tones. Just pay attention to the overall feel of the shoes, identify the dominant color, and let that be the basis for your choice of belt. The key is complementing, not trying for a perfect 100% match. For example, pair a dark brown belt with shoes that have blue suede on the midsection and a similar brown for the rest of the body.
Ultimately, you have to be confident enough, whether you follow these matching tips or decide to ignore them every once in awhile. Trust me when I say that confidence in your style and clothing makes life so much easier and enjoyable. If you truly believe in what you're wearing, show a genuine smile, and can be yourself all day – voila! You can bet that others will comment how great you look.