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WHICH SHOES TO CHOOSE:
FINDING THE PERFECT FOOTWEAR TO SUIT EVERY SUIT
by Slaters Style February 8th, 2021
From office wear to weddings, it’s likely that you own at least one suit in your wardrobe. From the cut of the fabric to accessories like ties or lapel pins, you probably already know how critical it is that each element of your outfit is immaculate. But what about your shoes? Like every other part of your outfit, the type of shoes you wear with a suit is vital to achieving the effect you’re looking for.
If your knowledge extends only as far as ‘smart shoes’, don’t worry. In this guide, we’ll dig a little deeper to explain what styles of footwear work well with a suit, along with which colours pair well with the shade of your clothing.
The go-to ‘smart shoe’, Oxfords are the perfect footwear for black tie events where you’re looking to dress to impress. They’re found in traditional leather, resulting in effortless sophistication. Always make sure you polish your Oxford shoes for maximum effect.
The ultimate smart-casual shoe, Derbys make transitioning from the office to the bar seamless. Similar in style to the classic Oxford, Derby shoes feature open lacing and present a more relaxed style.. While you should always opt for Oxford shoes when an event is black tie, a good pair of Derbys will do the job well when things are more laid back.
Rather than adhering to a specific style, brogues are defined by the ‘broguing’ on the shoe — additional detailing and leather panels. Broguing will often feature heel cups and wingtips, resulting in a more decorative look. Interestingly, you can often find Oxford brogues or Derby brogues: the name refers solely to the design.
Loafers offer all-round style with minimal fuss. Laceless and often seen with tassel detailing, the humble loafer is a popular choice of footwear for all but the most formal of occasions. Whether it’s business-casual offices or drinks at the bar, leather and suede loafers are both a winning choice, paired perfectly with cropped trousers.
Looking for a more adventurous choice? A pair of monk strap shoes offers the appeal of a classic pair of Derbys with a more eccentric twist. These modern favourites are essentially Oxfords with a single or double buckle to lock the foot in place. This gives monk straps the freedom to be worn to more casual events that an Oxford would be too dressed up for — and stand out while doing it.
A SHOE FOR EVERY COLOUR
SHOES FOR BLACK SUITS
Every man should own a black suit. Whether it’s for work or a black tie event, this should be an essential part of your wardrobe. As such, you need to make sure you have the right shoes to match. Luckily, there’s only one colour you need to remember: black. As a rule, you almost always want to choose a pair of shoes that are darker than your suit. In this scenario, that leaves you with only one option. Depending on the event, however, you can deviate on the style of shoe you choose; just make sure you keep them polished!
SHOES FOR GREY SUITS
If you’re wearing a light grey suit and want to keep things traditionally smart, you’ll want to stick with a pair of reliable black shoes. The darker tone completes the outfit without distracting from the suit itself. That said, brown shoes are another solid choice. They offer a warmer element to your outfit to offset the coolness of grey. All shades of brown work with a light grey suit, from tan to rich mahogany — simply choose what complements the rest of your outfit best.
SHOES FOR CHARCOAL SUITS
Fewer colours pair well with charcoal than they do with light grey suits. Stick to the rules for black — only black shoes allowed — as charcoal is too dark a tone to look natural with anything other than black footwear. The good news is that charcoal and black are a match made in heaven, perfect for smarter occasions.
SHOES FOR NAVY SUITS
Navy suits are where you’re free to experiment more to find out what works best with each outfit. Black shoes, for example, are still a great choice for a navy suit but may be more suitable in a corporate setting. For more relaxed and upbeat backdrops like weddings or parties, brown tones offer a nice contrast with the deep blue shades of navy. Light and dark browns can both work, so see how each works with the rest of your ensemble to find which colour is the one to commit to.
SHOES FOR BROWN SUITS
Black shoes are not an option if you’re choosing to wear brown. It’s too stark a contrast and will make your feet stand out and distract from your clothing — not a look you want to achieve! Unsurprisingly, brown shoes are your best bet with a brown suit. Just make sure you’re choosing a pair that is darker than your suit to keep your outfit balanced.
SHOES FOR BEIGE SUITS
Another case of steering clear of black footwear, beige or cream suits are too light to pull off such a dark and out of place colour. Brown, on the other hand, is the perfect partner for a beige: the two warm tones complement each other superbly and create an effortless summer outfit where lighter suits are most popular.
THE PERFECT FIT
If you’re putting in the effort to look your best in a suit, your feet must meet the same high standards. Now you have a better idea of what styles of dress shoes there are and what colours work well together, the only left to do is experiment for yourself.
You can check out our full collection of men’s shoes to find your next favourite pair, or if you want some more advice from the experts, head over to our Style Inspiration page to learn more.