Choosing the Best Colors in Men's Dress Shoes


Wearing appropriate men's dress shoes and colors might seem rather inconsequential in the business world, but your choice in shoes actually says more about you than you may have realized. Not only the styles but also the colors are important, especially when you need to make a great first impression. To quote an expert on men's shoes: "A well-made shoe sends the world a message about its wearer." However, choosing the right color shoe to match your pants or suit is equally important. Matching your shoe tones to your belt shows attention to detail and presents a well-tailored look.

It is not necessary to have a closet packed with a huge variety of shoe styles and colors to create consistently well-matched outfits. The average man can survive well with as few as six pairs if he chooses wisely. An absolute must for the business executive is owning one or two pairs of well-made, conservative black shoes. They should be leather rather than suede. Avoid chunky rubber soles. The general rule is the better quality and style of pants worn should be equaled by the style, quality and conservatism of the shoe. Adding a pair of shoes that are burgundy and a pair that are dark tan should cover most circumstances and work with your wardrobe of suits and slacks, both formal and semi-formal.

The most basic guideline for choosing the right color for men's business shoes is to favor a shade that is darker than that of your pants. The following guidelines may be helpful:

  • Black shoes work with almost any dressy outfit every time.
  • Brown shoes are less attractive with black slacks but work well with earth tones, including olive greens and tans. They are considered slightly less formal than black-colored shoes.
  • Oxblood or burgundy shoe colors go well with navy and gray slacks and suits.
  • Camel and dark tan shoe colors can work with gray, light browns, light blues and earth tones.

A similar principle applies to matching your shoe colors to your suits. Classic suits work best with a black version of a leather cap toe lace up, wingtips or conservative loafers. The shinier the shoe, the more formal it appears. The black Johnston & Murphy "Melton" oxford shoe is an excellent choice, as is the Florsheim "Edgar." Pinstripe suits pair well with Santa Barbara shoes or patent leather formals. For black-tie occasions, black Albany shoes with their conservative, plain toes are most appropriate. A trendy, contemporary suit might call for ankle boots with elongated, pointy toes or square ends.

For those less-formal situations, loafers and oxfords with woven or heavy stitching will look great with dressy jeans, Dockers or khakis. This may be the opportunity to wear those casual brown shoes that you really love. Regardless of the choice of color, remember to keep your footwear in good repair and well-shined. Shabby, stained or scuffed shoes cast an unfavorable impression, not just on your outfit but on your character as well. It may not seem fair, but the world does tend to judge us by our outward appearance.




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