1. Navy Blue suits
Blackshoes, Brown shoes & Red or burgundy shoes
Navy can go comfortably with all three of the main color families of men’s leather shoes. You can probably even make a navy suit work with more exotic colors if you have them, although blue is generally too close to make a good contrast.
The leather color mostly affects the formality and attitude of a navy suit. Black shoes are business dress, while brown are more relaxed, and red or burgundy give it the most playful, social feel.
2. Medium And Light Gray Suits
Black shoes, Brown shoes, Red or burgundy shoes
Medium gray suits are less formal than navy suits, and share a similar flexibility. You can pair them effectively with just about any color of leather.
In the case of medium gray, black is the best option when you’re wearing a white shirt and a necktie. It’s still not proper business dress (the suit itself is too light), but it’s quite typical in offices where suits are mandatory but somewhat relaxed. Brown and burgundy shoes make it more of a casual/social look, and work best when the shirt has a bit of pattern or color to it as well.
3. Brown suits
can pair with Brown shoe, Red or burgundy shoes but do not pair with:
- Black shoes
Take a caveat here — brown suits work with most brown shoes. You want a visible contrast between the color of the shoe leather and the color of the suit. If they’re identical or almost-identical, it looks off.
Apart from that, brown’s great with most casual leather shoes. It’s generally better to have the shoe leather darker than the suit (helps keep the eye from being drawn downward), but either way can work so long as you have a clear contrast.
4. Charcoal Grey Suits
- can pair with black and burgundy shoes but cant pair with brown
Here’s where we get to our first firm “no” on the list: don’t pair charcoal suits with brown shoes.
Dark browns look like you’re trying for a close match and coming up short. Light browns are too informal, and draw the eye jarringly downward. Plain black works best, or a deep burgundy for a look that’s relaxed but still elegant.
5. Black Suits
can pair with black shoes
Do not pair with:
Black’s not very flexible. That’s why we generally recommend charcoal gray or navy blue in its place as a first suit. If you own one, pair it with black shoes, and save the outfit for funerals and strict business dress occasions.
Any other color of shoe is going to look too casual with black.