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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.

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How To Wear Suspenders: Can A Young, Non Hipster Still Pull Them Off?

young hipster man wearing hat , suspenders , a bow-tie

Getting creative with your fashion choices is landmine-ridden territory these days, with fashion snobs at one moment telling you to run out and buy a fedora and then the next turning up their nose and saying “that’s so yesterday,” often barely months apart.

Update: We wrote an in-depth article on wearing suspenders with jeans. Check it out now and learn how to look awesome by wearing jeans with suspenders.

If it were left up to us to just decide what to wear based on whim, we’d probably try just about anything, but then you have to worry about coming across as too try-hard, or even worse, being labeled a hipster.

One clothing item men sometime feel cautious around due to possible hipster connotations is the suspenders, otherwise known as braces. So let’s take a pause – can non-hipsters still pull off this fashion accessory?

In a word, yes.

The Straight Talk on Suspenders for Men


Admittedly, it’s shaky ground, but suspenders can still be worn with style and finesse if you do it the right way. The most important thing to keep in mind is not to overdo it.

For instance, certain fashion staples and accessories are seen as outdated or overwhelmingly hipster. Some examples include big-framed glasses, fedoras, unique scarves, and…suspenders.

You wouldn’t want to pile all these items together on your bed and compose an outfit from them. That would indeed be hipster. But these items have all been around far longer than the hipster movement and the hipsters that wear them; they don’t lay claim to every fashion item they touch.

If you want to pull these items off, use them as they’re meant to be used, as unique complements to otherwise ordinary outfits.

When Do Suspenders Make the Cut?

Obviously, braces are a rather formal fashion statement and will usually be worn in formal or semi-formal situations.

When worn with a formal jacket, they should not show at all and are just meant to keep your outfit in place and looking crisp. In situations that don’t call for a jacket, or don’t demand one, try them with a pair of nice black trousers and a white cotton shirt.

Of course, some guys go all out and wear suspenders with jeans or more casual pants, breaking out the patterns to add some flair. It’s possible to pull this off, but keep in mind you’re now wandering into the territory of stereotypes you might be better off avoiding it they don’t fit your image.
In other words, someone can pull off braces in just about every situation; the question is are you that someone?

How To Wear Suspenders

Shirt and suspendersTo put your braces on, first attach them to the back of your pants. Then put the pants on, pulling your suspenders over your shoulders and clasping, or buttoning if you have button-flaps, in the front. Which is better – clips or buttons? Well, the clips can damage your trousers over time, but not all trousers come with buttons, so while the buttons are seen as higher-quality, the suspenders with clips do offer more versatility.

Oh, and feel free to rock your suspenders even when not wearing a jacket or shirt. While they were originally meant to be worn as underwear, it’s standard fare to show them off now.

Do You Wear a Belt With Suspenders?

Absolutely not! Though doing so is a great way to look silly if that’s the look you’re after…

Suspenders are an alternative to a belt, and in fact were the original means of holding up pants. In addition, they’re more comfortable than belts because they don’t cinch around the waist when sitting or throw off the natural form of your pants. Finally, they allow you to wear your pants at your natural waist or, indeed, wherever you want, as you can adjust the length as needed.

So a great option instead of a belt, but don’t do both…ever.

Additional Tips

  • Keep in mind that suspenders have been embraced by punks and skinheads, and thus certain styles come with connotations you’re better off without. The best way to get around this is avoid anything too wild when picking out your colors and patterns. It’s okay to express yourself, but keep it somewhat subdued.
  • Suspenders are more likely to snag than a belt and can even break. This may take some getting used to.
  • Replace old suspenders when they lose their elasticity, as they can give a sagging, deflated look to your trousers.

Braces offer a timeless, masculine look that men with less fashion confidence can’t even touch. Try it for yourself, and you’ll know by the compliments whether its working or not.

Image Credits: Sergio Delgado / Alejandro De La Cruz / Flickr

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Men’s Summer Fashion 2013: 7 Key Trends To Look Out For

mens summe fashion 2013

Summer is when it’s okay to get a bit sweaty and even dirty in the outdoors, whether on the beach or in sport, but fashion-conscious men with an eye for the ladies still like to keep looking smooth – after all, the women are often the main reason we go to the beach.

Looking to put together a sharp wardrobe this summer? Or just want to add a couple new pieces that even out your staples and bring you a bit more up-to-date? A quick look at what’s popular on the catwalks in men’s summer fashion 2013 can give us a few hints on where to start.

1. Going Bold

Everyone likes to get a little more creative and brazen with their colors and designs in the summer, but this season, we’re seeing men from the catwalks to the streets getting more adventurous than ever before. From big and bold graphics to intense colors, men are pulling out all the stops, even going as far as to inject crazy colors into tailored fashion pieces, with extremely colorful and patterned suits hitting the market.

Popular themes include lots of fluorescents and neons as well as a heavy reliance on orange, curacao blue, and a wide range of pink hues.

We’re also seeing this bright, vibrant color motif used creatively in accents on otherwise subtle clothing.

Can you pull it off? There’s no doubt that this type of statement takes a confident man who has grown into his own sense of style, but when it works, it works.

2. Fitted Shorts

In the past, shorts that were too tight or fitted were scoffed at and thought to be prissy – we’ve all made our share of jokes about men in speedos. But this year there seems to be a lot more acceptance of shorter “Euro” styles that mold closer to the body. This includes short swim shorts, stylish board shorts, swimming briefs (yes, speedos), and trunk shorts.

All of the above can be a good choice for guys who have put a lot of time into chiseling their body and want to show it off this summer.

3. Lots and Lots of Stripes

Another common heme we’re seeing this year is a heavy reliance on stripes of all types. From pinstripes to big stripes, from vertical stripes to horizontal, from rugby stripes to nautical stripes – we’re seeing it all. Go with the big thick stripes to really keep it on the cutting edge.

Stripes are represented in essentially every major brand and in many cases even going from head-to-toe.

4. Keeping it Blue

Not only are we seeing an influx of the bold curacao blue mentioned above, but indeed blues of all shades seem to be a characteristic of men’s summer fashion 2013. Experiment with different tones to see what works best for you, or switch them out depending on the mood and occasion.

5. Go On a Safari

You might just be cruising the city streets this summer, but a more earthy, rugged look can be a good way to inject some personality into your wardrobe, in the summer of 2013, especially if the bold and bright colors currently in vogue just aren’t your thing. Many major fashion houses are also embracing the more refined, subdued safari-style clothing choices, even bringing these elements into more fancy outfits.

Also popular are tribal patterns and ethnic-inspired clothing.

6. Going Rambo

Camouflage…the fashion trend that never goes away for good, camouflage goes through a dramatic cycle with no middle ground and is always either right there on the cutting edge or all-too-retro. Men’s summer fashion 2013 is showing an upswing for this age-old style choice in a diverse range of outfits, from more rugged outdoor wear to high fashion.

Expect to see camo in everything this summer season, from shoes to pants to shirts as well as accents and accessories.

7. Baseball Jackets

The coolest jacket to have at the moment is the vintage baseball jacket. Check out designs that mix it with intense, bold colors or fashionable baseball jackets with nice leather details. It’s a uniquely American fashion item that we’ll likely be seeing more of in the future. Sharp, casual, and cool.

Final Thoughts

It’s always good to remember that what guys get away with on the catwalk isn’t always relevant to the real world, especially if you’re not cruising high fashion venues where celebrities hang out. This is why a lot of guys look at men parading new trends and just raise their eyebrows and shake their heads in confusion.

The idea is not to copy these guys completely but to consider how you can work this year’s fashion statements into your own style, usually by toning it down a little and choosing some choice items that blend in.

As always, your stye is your own to craft and suit to your lifestyle.

Image Credit: Eva Rinaldi Celebrity / Flickr

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How To Wear A Tie Clip


Men used to really know how to dress. From the men of the 50s with their love of hats all the way back to our founding fathers with their powdered wigs, the more masculine gender has, throughout history, often put as much effort into his style as women are known to do today. They were no less manly than men are now for it – if anything, they put the modern-day male to shame – but they did take pride in their appearance.

Fortunately, those times seem to be returning with a surge of interest regarding men’s fashion, and more and more guys are seeking out ways to look dapper, even dragging out old, so-called “outdated” items from their predecessors’ bag of tricks. Hence today’s topic…tie bars (otherwise known as tie clips).

Let’s have a look at how to wear a tie clip like a real man of taste.

First, What Exactly is a Tie Bar?

Many experts attribute the reemergence of the tie clip to the popularity of TV shows like “Mad Men,” which offer a glimpse into the masculine fashion sense of a bygone era – in fact, in the before-mentioned show, the actors are often seen wearing this specific piece of jewelry.

But tie bars weren’t just created to give men another way to strut their stuff; like most fashion accessories, they were created for a specific purpose.

Remember when you wore your first tie? How much of an obtrusion it was – dangling around, getting lopsided on your shirt, and otherwise just becoming an untidy nuisance draped across your chest? The short end seeming to have a mind of it’s own?

A tie clip, as the name suggests, is designed to solve this problem, fastening the tie to your shirt so that it stays neatly in place and out of our way. Thus leaving you looking crisply put-together throughout the night. Makes sense, right?

And, of course, they eventually evolved to complement the outfit even further on a visual level, creating the versatile accessory that exists today.

How to wear it?

Proper Tie Clip Placement

The first concern a newbie has when learning how to wear a tie bar is the one of tie bar placement. In short, where does it go?

Well, that really depends on what else you’re wearing. The general rule is to count down to the fourth button on your dress shirt and place the tie bar there. That said, the rule needs to be adjusted when you’re wearing a jacket.

The reason is that the stance of your jacket (how high your jacket buttons) affects whether the clip will be visible or not. A high-stance jacket often covers up a tie bar placed at the fourth button, and this ruins its use beyond practical function.
In cases like these, feel free to raise the tie bar up to the third button, where it can be seen all its glory. If the jacket has a particularly low stance, on the other hand, drop the clip down a bit.

If you imagine your tie split into three sections, all equal in length, you should be wearing the clip somewhere within the middle section – no matter the stance of your jacket.

From there, just open up the clip and clip the tie to the placket of your shirt, horizontally. Pretty simple.

A Word of Warning on Width

One big mistake a lot of guys make is wearing a tie bar that’s too wide for their tie – this can especially be an issue if you’re into skinny ties. Simply put, it looks goofy.

Rule number one on this note is that the tie bar should never be wider than your tie, and in fact, it really shouldn’t cover more than ¾ of the width. Yes, this means you won’t be able to wear every tie clip with every tie, but so be it.

It might seem like a simple difference, but don’t cut corners on this.

On Colors and Designs

Gold or silver. Plain metal or colored and decorated. They’ve got tie bars fitted with stones and even “cute” clips in the shape of guns or daggers, among other mind-blogging fashion statements.

Personally, I recommend going the modest route with a tie bar. It’s still a unique-enough accessory these days that it stands out on its own accord, creating an air of sensible modern sophistication. So no need to get fancy.

That said, the final decision, as always, should be based on your own personal style. Some guys have a thing for unique masculine jewelry, and for some guys it really works.

Just experiment a little and see what kind of reaction you get.

Image Attribution: Image 1 | Image 2

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How To Wear A Pocket Square


When it comes to accessories, men generally don’t have the range of options that women have. Enter the pocket square.

The pocket square is a simple accessory, but it effortlessly adds character to suit jackets and blazers. And hey, if you or the pretty lady have the sniffles, it might actually come in handy.

Pocket squares are certainly nothing new – they have a distinctly old school flavor, and men have been using them for generations to add an extra flourish to their style. But lately, they seem to be enjoying a resurgence. From Justin Timberlake on the red carpet, to Bruce Willison the cover of GQ, to Marcus Mumford rocking a pocket square on the cover of Rolling Stone, the pocket square is becoming a sartorial signature for a new generation of men.

True, if you go to your typical family wedding you probably won’t see too many attendees rocking pocket squares. But if the weddings you attend are anything like mine, most of the men will be wearing poorly fitted black suits anyways, if that says anything.

Pocket squares break up the consistency of your suit and adds a dash of character. If you want to add this classic finishing touch to your look, you’ll need to know how to fold a pocket square.

Ways To Wear A Pocket Square

Don’t let anyone tell you that it doesn’t matter how you wear a pocket square – like anything else in style, little details can make all the difference. You need to learn how to fold a pocket square, but you also need to choose the style that suits you best (no pun intended).

1. Crisp & Clean

This is the simplest and cleanest way to wear a pocket square. It’s simple to fold, looks sharp, and nearly impossible to mess up. It can work well with an ultra formal look, as well as dressed down. The crisp & clean fold always looks great with a solid blazer – this is the look you’ll usually see in GQ.

All you have to do is take your pocket square, fold it in 3rds, then fold it in half, and tuck it neatly into your chest pocket. Make sure the clean edge is facing up.

2. One Point Fold

Like the straight edge, the 1 point fold (or “corner up”) is a timeless classic way to wear a pocket square. Like the straight edge it’s simple and clean. You end up with just a peak of fabric poking up from your pocket.

To achieve this fold, start with your pocket square laid out flat, with one corner pointing down at you and another pointing away, like a diamond.

  • Fold the bottom and top corners together to form a triangle.
  • Fold the left corner over to meet the right corner, then the right corner back to the left corner.
  • At this point, you should have a long rectangle, with a little point on top. Fold up the bottom of the rectangle towards the pointed top, but don’t fold it all the way.
  • Place it in your suit, adjust your pocket square so you get just the right amount of fabric peeking out your breast pocket.

3. Four Point Fold

This “corners out” look is still a classic look – but with a bit of edge. Simply fold the pocket square from corner to corner to create a triangle, then fold the corners over again, then again to create the 4 points. Now arrange them like the picture above.

You don’t necessarily want all 4 corners pointing out symmetrically. In my experience, it tends to look like you’re trying too hard and makes it that much harder to pull off.

4. The “Poof”

The “poof” isn’t quite as clean and crisp as the last few folds and can be a bit harder to pull off. But if done right, it looks distinguished yet laidback, and it’s great if you want something that will stand out. The “poof” (probably not what fashion editors would call it) is probably the simplest of all the pocket square folds, and should result in a small poof of fabric poking out the top of your suit pocket.

With your pocket square laying flat and unfolded on a table, pick up it up at the center and bunch the fabric up towards the middle. Now all you have to do is slide it into your pocket and leave the peak visible.

Color co-ordination

Color coordinating a pocket square with your outfit is relatively straightforward if you follow some basic rules. Make sure that your pocket square compliments your tie, but doesn’t match exactly –matching your solid red tie with a solid red pocket square – or worse, matching patterns – will look like you’re trying way too hard and is a major no-no.

However, choosing a patterned pocket square that has a bit of red or a solid red pocket square is ok if your tie has just a bit of red on it.

If you’re still uncomfortable with color coordination, your best bet is to stick with the basic white linen pocket square, which goes well with virtually any suit/tie color combo. (and be sure to check out our guide to color co-ordination)

And now you know the basics of how to wear a pocket square. The key now is to experiment with color, fabrics, and pattern and figure out what works for you.

Update: We published a fantastic guest post on when to wear a pocket square. Because let’s face it, you won’t wear a pocket square every day, right?

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