Shoes can make or break your outfit.
Sure, rules are meant to be broken, and if you decide to match your formal navy suit with a pair of white Converse, that’s your prerogative. But what do you choose when you need to perfectly look the part?
We all know that a black suit needs black shoes - but what about a navy pinstriped suit? What do you wear with a dark grey number? How about light grey? Which shoes should you wear with a dinner suit or a linen suit?
Here are a few tips to ensure you look your best.
The more formal the suit, the more formal the shoe should be, whilst a relaxed, casual fit means you can be a little more creative in your shoe choice. Black shoes tend to be more business-like, while brown shoes generally offer a more casual look. Wearing suits in colours that are traditionally less business-like will mean you’re afforded more colour options for your shoes.
While it’s best to pair black suits with black shoes, you can still add a little interest to your outfit by changing the style of the shoes. Quickly add personality to your outfit with a pair of glossy, patent leather lace ups, exquisitely tooled brogues, or a classic loafer.
Black and burgundy work extremely well with charcoal grey suits. While plain black leather shoes are definitely your safest option, burgundy creates a look that's both elegant and relaxed, and the reddish tone of oxblood will really bring the fabric to life. Just steer clear of brown shoes. They’re a definite no-no here!
If you prefer a navy blue suit you can choose either black, brown or burgundy shoes. Black shoes are the best choice if you're wearing your suit for business purposes, while brown shoes will give you a more casual feel. Burgundy shoes or high shine oxblood shoes will allow you to take your suit out for a night on the town!
Medium and light grey suits work best with black, brown, oxblood or burgundy shoes. A medium grey tends to be a little less formal than navy, you'll find that pairing this colour suit with burgundy or red shoes will add a playful edge, while brown will make the overall look more casual, especially if you're wearing a coloured or patterned shirt. If you're wearing your suit with a white shirt and tie, black shoes will work best and give you a more business-like look. Light grey looks particularly good with tan shoes in the summer.
Whether formal or casual, brown coloured shoes work best with brown suits. Choose brown, burgundy or red shoes to complement your brown suit - but never choose black. Most shades of brown work well, but try not to totally match your trousers and shoes; opt for some contrast. Wearing shoes that are darker than your suit is the best option.
If you're wearing a light coloured suit, the rule of thumb is to avoid shoe colours too close to the fabric of your suit. It's always best to go with a clear contrast. If you're wearing something casual like blue indigo, tan monk shoes or shiny oxblood brogues will create an interesting yet still complementary look. If you're wearing a suit with a blue overcheck, why not try pairing it with navy blue shoes to ‘pull out’ the blue from the pattern?
When the sun's shining, it's time to go lighter with both your suit and your shoe colour. Beige, light coloured linen or unstructured suits look great with either white, tan, brown or navy shoes. Khaki summer suits will benefit from being paired with any colour of shoe except black, although navy, burgundy, brown and tan will look most appropriate. If you're wearing a white suit, consider tan or grey shoes in either leather or suede. The texture of the suede works extremely well with textured fabrics such as linen.
Of course, you can always shirk convention and add a quirky touch by ignoring these rules altogether - but that does require a certain amount of confidence! Whichever colour shoes you're wearing, always make sure that they're clean and well maintained, so that they add to your overall look rather than detract from it.