Can Brown Shoes Work with Your Tailored Suit?

It seems quite paradoxical that even though men are freer to dress as they please in this day and age, there remains a stubborn desire to adhere to the "fashion rules". Quite who devised these rules and when is not known, but it remains the case that within the world of mens tailoring many people believe that there is one correct way of dressing, often despite of the evidence in front of their eyes.

One of these "fashion rules" within premium mens fashion is "no brown in town" which, as brown is rarely used for shirts or suits, usually refers to the perceived fashion faux pas of brown shoes. This rule has the advantage of being completely simple and clear in its meaning, but the disadvantage of being restrictive and rather idiotic. Not doubt that there are plenty of naysayers who take a very dim view of a man who wears brown shoes with tailored clothes, but is this a reasonable rule for a tailored suit?

Yes, when you’re wearing a black suit, you should probably wear black shoes. But if we take the lead from those very well dressed Italian fashionistas, we find that navy, charcoal grey, light grey, tan and ivory tailored suits are all enhanced beautifully by a pair of brown shoes. In fact, a pair of brown shoes is one of the best combinations out there when teamed with a vibrant blue or navy suit.

Another style fallacy is that light-coloured suits like ivory, light grey or tan work best with a pair of brown shoes, a combination that is very common in the summer months. It is also widely held that dark brown shoes should be paired with dark cloths while lighter toned shoes should be left to colours like tan. The fact is that brown shoes, whether light or dark – even tan – add serious style to dark suits, especially when combined with a brown belt. 

But, as leading Yorkshire tailors, something we must warn you about with more risqué combinations involving brown shoes, is the "stand out" factor. A dark navy suit coupled with tan shoes can look extremely elegant, but the colour contrast is striking. Not only will this make you stand out, it will also invite the opinions of other people. Those with less well-honed aesthetic senses might leap to the conclusion that, just because the combination "stands out", then the colours must be clashing. This is precisely how false assumptions about what colours should be worn together arise and maybe how such "fashion rules" came into being. Ignoring such ignoramuses is probably the best idea – but you have be warned!