There’s nothing I like more than taking a hard-fast fashion rule and cutting it off right at the knees, and no maxim is more repeated when it comes to men’s fashion – even among guys who wouldn’t know fashion if it hit them in the back of the head with a brick – is that you should never mix brown with black. This goes equally, if not religiously so, when it comes to brown shoes with black pants.
But is that really fair? To get a little deeper into the matter, let’s tie it to the table and break out our style scalpel.
Black Pants, Brown Shoes: Understanding Why And When It Fails
First off, let’s look at why brown shoes with black pants fails – when it does fail (and it often does).
When it comes to picking out shoes and pants that go together, the number one word is contrast. If the pant material is light-toned, you want a darker shoe. If it’s dark-toned, you want a lighter-colored shoe.
You can pull off direct matching sometimes, but the match should be exact. This is clear as day (or perhaps dark as night?) when it comes to the black on black combo. Never fails.
But what you don’t want is something close to matching that doesn’t quite cut it. Case in point – imagine dark navy blue jeans with a pair of blue shoes that were slightly a different color blue. Fail…
And this is why a brown shoe with black pants so often fails. For one, most brown shoes are dark chocolate-colored, otherwise known as deep brown. It’s a color that comes very close to black, but it isn’t black, and it never will be. So it neither contrasts enough nor matches enough to work with black pants.
Black Suit, Brown Shoes: Does it ever work?
This question can be answered with a bold and clear yes. Black suits and brown shoes can work very nicely together. But please keep in mind that this doesn’t mean that they always work together. As you can read below and above: contrast is the key!
Wearing a black suit with really dark brown shoes is something you should avoid. One might actually wonder if you were still a bit sleepy in the morning when you got dressed and if you actually noticed that those are two different colours. Having more contrast between your suit pants and your brown shoes will clearly help here. Read on to learn more about which different kind of brown shoes exist and which ones can be combined with black trousers.
Moving On…The Different Types of Brown
The biggest difference between black and brown is the wide spectrum of colors we call brown. From tan to light brown to medium brown to deep brown. This is where brown becomes pretty versatile. It isn’t always dark, and herein lies the key to matching brown with black, should you have the nerve to put it off.
A lighter brown, unlike deep brown shoes, DOES contrast with black just enough to work, and while many fashion snobs will balk, edgier stylists agree it even brings a bit more elegance and sophistication. And it not only works with lighter browns and tans but medium brown as well.
But remember, the contrast is always the key!
How to Pull it Off?
When wearing black pants, brown shoes of the right tone can offer a unique, inspiring touch, but a little more effort may be needed to make it clear you didn’t just do it by accident, lack common fashion sense, or forget your black dress shoes at home.
First off, always match the shoes with your belt. But then again, you’re doing this anyways, right?
On top of that, find a brown accessory that matches the shoes to tie it all together – this is extremely important as it really rounds out your outfit and shows you have an evolved sense of style! Next to a matching belt (must have) you can for example wear a watch with a matching leather bracelet. And why not carrying a brown leather messenger bag along with it which might add a little casual flavour to your outfit.
Also, keep your eyes out for sophisticated brown shoes with black stitching. These are exceptionally useful in pulling the look together as well.
And lastly, wear it with confidence! Never feel unsure when you go against the grain because nothing kills a fashion experiment like an apologetic look. If you look like you know it works, others will notice.
So don’t let all the varying degrees of brown confuse you. Develop an eye for proper contrast and experiment a little. As with most controversial fashion statements, you’ll know you’ve pulled it off when you start getting compliments, as people take notice when things like this click.