Is It Ever OK To Wear Brown Shoes With Black Pants?

Can you wear brown shoes with black pants?

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.

brown shoe

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.

Share and Enjoy !

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  1. Thank you for the great article you written now i know i can wear my brown shoes with my new black suit i got black shoes but it just blends in with black i love contrast i think a brown fedora will click nicely with brown shoes an belt i only hav

    • Oops sorry smart phone issues i posted before finished anyway i was say i only have one contrasting brown pair the other has dark brown trim on them

  2. I have a rust/brown sport coat that I wear with a satine black shirt and black slacks. The tie has four colors in it, tan, rust/brown, black and royal blue. The shoes are a rust/brown color as well. I top it off with a black felt gambler hat. And it works!

    I do not wear belts any longer because I have come to prefer suspenders. The suspenders I wear are tan. These colors contrast but work well together. I am 52 years old and have dressed well since I was a child. It has always just felt right to do so.

    My ex-wife always said I looked like I was either going to a wedding or a funeral whenever we left the house. Yet, at work, everyone, every day would tell me that I looked nice, dapper, sharp or clean. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

    Fashion is one thing, but style is another. And personal style is a whole different animal all together. Just yesterday I wore a cashmere,black, double breasted suit with a vest, a blood red tie and Stacy Adams Madison spat boots with my black fedora. And it worked extremely well.

    I have also worn black slacks, a royal blue shirt with a royal blue and sun yellow tie with my royal blue crocodile and suede shoes with a royal blue Homburg hat, and my black on black pin stripe zoot suit jacket, and this was in an office environment. Not a bad comment was heard, yet I heard a lot of compliments, even from my boss who has started to try to out dress me on a daily basis.

    The thing is that what you wear has to be an expression of who you are, not a fashion trend. Although I work in an office environment, I am still able to dress boldly. Why? Because I wear my clothes. They don’t wear me. And I am very confident in myself and how I dress.

    When I started working where I do today, I was the only one in my office that really dressed up on a daily basis,other than my boss. Now, a year later, everyone, even the women, are dressing sharper. I changed my environment by dressing sharp and being confident when I do. It stands to reason why how you dress affects others. Do it confidently and you will see the results.

  3. Okay, so I am dressed in nice black pants, lighter brown shoes, a matching belt and a matching watch strap, but . . . what color socks, black or brown???

    • Denis. Black. Never brown socks. Or go completely off-spectrum with a dark blue speckled with maroon or gold, stripes with color. Just make sure the tonality is on the darker side unless you ARE trying to make a statement with the socks. PS, brilliant advice on the the “3rd” accessory, love the idea of a messenger bag, the watch strap was excellent advice because I, and many others, overlook that detail all the time, [sic].

    • Nothing other than well polished Black shoes or very dark Oxblood shoes should be worn with these colored suits,black suit, navy blue suit, charcoal gray suit. No cordovan color shoes just dark OXBLOOD.

  4. For my brother’s wedding I had to buy a black suit. All I have for shoes are AE 5th Ave dark chili, AE Dalton dark chili and Rockport walnut wingtip. Thinking the 5th Ave (would prefer Daltos). Help would be appreciated. Oh and bonus the tie is a surprise.


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